If you'd like a little food for thought this weekend, I'd highly recommend visiting Blissimo, a Second Life fashion blog that has veered a little bit from what you might expect to see there. Blogger Aria Appleford has been conducting interviews with ex-residents, anonymous and otherwise, in a series she's calling Second Life Retrospective.
The most recent interview is with a former Second Life fashionista who has a lot to say about the state of the virtual fashion community... And it's far from a ringing endorsement.
Anonymous' story is a sad one, and in a lot of ways a stereotypical one too:
I am the stereotype. I am a middle-aged, overweight, divorced woman who does not go out much due to health concerns; who lives on a pension. Sometimes I sat in front of my computer in my pajamas all day, pretending to be a beautiful thin, business woman. I liked that person better than I liked to look in my own mirror.
She's also undeniably depressed, especially when it comes to her former virtual life. Her love affair with the SL fashion scene was not healthy for her, and didn't improve her real life (or her credit score). Beyond that, she paints a picture of a social life filled with phonies and backstabbers, emotional games and drama. It's a story you might have heard before, and much of it reminds me of this reader's comment back in April.
At the same time, while I'm sympathetic... I can't say I that see much of my own experience in Second Life (in particular with the fashion community) mirrored in Anonymous' words. It's likely because as visible as I might have been at one point or another, I've always been fairly sincere, and fairly insular. I've never tried to climb the ladder, and I've never really felt compelled to prove myself to other people. I am who I am, I do what I do, end of story.
I personally came in to Second Life fashion because it was a fun creative outlet -- Virtual Barbies, as so many people call it -- but even beyond that it became a place for me to hone my writing, and to create relatively low-commitment "art" at a point in my life where the rest of my time was spent in lecture halls and libraries (because what else do you do in University when you're the only girl in a small college town who hates bars?)
I never had any interest the romance game, and I've never had much patience for people playing at being Coco Chanel on their computers either. That wasn't what I was there for. I suppose being in that position meant I gravitated towards similarly down-to-earth (or boring) people and far fewer dramatic fashionista roleplayers. I've been on the periphery of those things for a long time now, and I'm glad. Maybe for some that's less fun, or less exciting, but it's probably why I stick around -- because all the drama and the bullshit is on the other side of my garden wall.
I'm sure at this point I don't sound as sympathetic I truly am, but it all comes down to this: In Second Life (as in many things) what you get out of it is exactly what you put in.
Please share this post with people you like:Tweet
Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.