Google+ Adventures of a Southern Gentleman: Can SL and RL truly be separate?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Can SL and RL truly be separate?

Since I've been having difficulty in coming up with something to blog about, I decided to shamelessly borrow one of the topics used in the recent SL Bloggers mix and match.

So, can Second Life (SL)  and Real Life (RL) truly be separate?    Many would say yes, they keep SL and RL totally separate but is that really true?   It's true that you can hide, to some extent, your RL from your SL, and your SL from your RL as long as you take care to keep things hidden but are they really "separate"?

Separate can be defined in several different ways but when most people use the word in regards to Second Life, I believe they mean the following.

independent; not united or joint;

It would be my contention that SL can not be truly separate from RL.  Whether one finds oneself deeply immersed in Second Life or just casually involved, events in real life can impact your SL and events in SL can impact your RL.   Witness the recent news stories about the couple that divorced in real life over what happened in Second Life.   I will grant that those two probably didn't do much to keep the two lives separate but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find in one or both of their profiles,  a statement to the effect that RL and SL are separate, just as one finds in many profiles.

But are those kind of statements valid?   Is it even possible to keep it separate?

Avatars in SL are driven by real living humans, with feelings and emotions, hang ups and physical problems, and all those things that make us human.

Emotions from either life can spill over into the other.   Whether it's having a fight with a friend in SL that makes you grumpy all day at work in RL or a flat tire in RL causing you to snap or fight with a friend in SL later that evening.  

That's not being separate, how could it be?  Unless you're Mister Spock and can keep the emotions of one world separate from the other and switch back and forth between the two.

How can you keep RL separate from SL when each can impact the other so readily?

Anyone that has been in SL for any length of time knows that spending too much time in SL impacts RL, even if you don't have much of a RL it's still an impact when you choose to sit all day in your pajamas in front of the computer in SL rather than do your laundry or go to the grocery or just go outside and be in the sun.

And when RL events or circumstances prevent you from going into SL abruptly, at the very least it impacts the relationships you've built in SL, your friends worry, your SL "boss" wonders why you didn't show up to host that event, and in RL you stress over not being able to get in.

SL and RL can't truly be separate.   You may be able to hide the actions and life you live in one from the other, and that is your prerogative, but no matter how hard you try, eventually something from one life is going to slip over into the other and that separation will be broken.  

1 comment:

Seikatsu Koba said...

I don't think RL and SL can be separated, intrinsically our SL exists because our RL has giving it life. The fact is that SL would not exist without RL.

Now, what we try to do is set boundaries, like we try to do for aspects of our RL. For example, when I leave work, I try to leave work in the office, although it not always works, I have set some boundaries.

Some people are very good at keeping their RL/SL boundaries, and others are not. Respecting the boundaries that we have set doesn't mean that we will never mix the two, it only means that we will mix them upto a certain limit.

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