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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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Lee A Beaulieu

I was taught by the old timers, (the alpha and beta tester) of Second Life that behind every avatar is a real person. This was a very meaningful and strong lesson that came to me from the community over and over again. I met a girl dancing there was something moving in my soul watching her, i was to learn that she was a quadriplegic in real life, here in second life she can dance. For me Second Life gave me the opportunity to succeed, to learn more about myself, to learn more about relationships all the reasons you say above Second Live offers opportunities for disabled people to communicate, co ordinate and set their minds loose on the world, a world that might normally shut them out, Second Life becomes a voice connected to a brilliant mind that can finally be seen for it's value. Opportunities open up when people can't see your disability, instead they see your abilities. This is more than a social responsibility it's a way to improve society for all people if utilized properly, only if we recognize that just like in real life , inside every body, well inside every avatar is a real person........ Second Life lets them find their strengths and give them to the world. If only everyone who goes on line would realize this is real not a fantasy....... than we could all enhance life together. People in avatars online in all sorts of social environments go AFK ( away from the keyboard) it just happens. When I was in second life i used to say that my avatar Ivy Lane was soulless , I never said afk, she was soulless because the essence of me that makes her real/animates her was gone, she is a hollow shell while i am afk. So there is no fantasy that does not hold an element of reality some where inside of it and I choose to believe that every avatar is a real person somewhere out in this universe. For me it's an interesting argument for parallel lives on a level we can comprehend that reality :)

jimjane

Most Slers knew this stuff 10 years ago. Oh but it is a revelation now. smh

Tom Boellstorff

Lovely post! We have indeed known not just for 10 years but before SL that virtual worlds can have all kinds of possibilities for disability, and every new story has something to offer. This is a wonderful one! Thanks for sharing it, Alejandro. And very true, James, that the interface can make access more of an issue than it should be for disabled folks (and the VR is not making this easier so far).

(I'll add this comment to the original post too in the hopes that Alejandro sees it.)

Pulsar

Behind every avatar you interact there is a real person (except bots). And that's true not just for Second Life: some people meet in MMORPG games and become good friends in real life, some got even married.
The virtual world is a fantasy, imaginary, used for any purpose. The avatar (virtual body) is imaginary too, and you are free to make it as you wish. It can be just a fanciful one, for fun, or it can be fanciful but still telling something about yourself (why do you feel better as a mermaid?). It can also represents more or less your real look, or how you dream you would like to be. I don't think in real life we are all furries, young top model girls and beefy muscle guys as in Second Life. People do dream. The only ones who feel deceived are those who believe SL is a real life dating agency and thus you must really be a furry in real life to be a furry in second life.
Visualizing yourself in certain ways is quite helpful for many people instead. You have a disability, but in the virtual world you can dance, run, swim... You are old, but you can still feel younger or less lonely. You are trangender and you can be freely yourself, the woman or the man you always wished to be (and maybe you live in a repressive place in real life). You live in a chaotic and gray city, but you can visualize yourself in a beautiful, peaceful natural place. You have a terrible illness, but you can forget it a little, and find something that makes you smile. You can visualize yourself stronger and feeling a bit stronger. It can help with depression too.

The virtual world is a dream, but behind your avatar, your personality may show up. Your personality is real life. When you feel emotions, those are real life too: those emotions are happening to you in real life.
This also means that it's a double-edged sword though: it can be helpful and there are all these people who suffer and struggle and look for a relief in the virtual worlds, but there is also someone who doesn't realize that and doesn't hesitate to hurt them. Or, even worse, someone hurts them when they give their trust to that person.

Luckily there are people who are really caring and empathetic
"after some time of conversation, she told me her story, that it is difficult for her to leave the house. [...] Imagine having a life where you can not frequently see someone, without talking to anyone... thanks to Second Life, these people can have human contact, socialize, smile, create, fascinate others and touch our lives."
That's very true and beautiful that SL can be so helpful.

Wayfinder

I was moved by this article and don't wish to rain on the parade, but taking this one logical step further:

It is a shame then, that Second Life is so very expensive and profit-centric that it prices its product out of the pocketbook reach of most disabled people. Even with the recent price drops, a region still costs as much as leasing a new car. If Linden Lab really wished to benefit this community, perhaps they should think in terms of significantly discounted lands based on the incomes of people who currently find such things priced far beyond reach.

Willow

Not wishing to rain on the parade but I've been hearing similar things since 2005 about Second Life. We do need reminding though.

I'm one of the "lucky" disabled since I can afford SL. As I've gotten older and more limited in what I can physically do I find more and more of my RL time is spent in SL. SL is my primary social outlet these days.

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