Virtual Influence

I just got a flu shot. I usually wait until I see it marked on my calendar on October 1, but one of my friends in the virtual world of Second Life mentioned they were already available. No time like the present.

As I got into my car and drove to the pharmacy and then got the shot and came home, it occurred to me that my actions were being influenced by someone in Second Life whom I most likely will never meet face to face. It is almost as if someone in the cyber world were sitting at a keyboard somewhere, directing my movements. Highly disconcerting. Maybe I’m the avatar and my stunningly attractive cartoon character is the real thing. I could live with that.

Then I began thinking about all the other ways that Second Life, Facebook, and even comments from this blog have influenced me over the years.

  • I have met four of my virtual friends face to face, and those were all amazingly gratifying experiences.
  • I often get book recommendations from friends on-line, and that has given me hours of reading pleasure.
  • Some of my favorite “go to” people for advice are people that I’ve never, or very rarely, been in the same room with.
  • Second Life gave me the courage to be a fractal artist, and now I sell my work on Zazzle, in the form of prints, mugs, cards, and business cards, among other things.
  • The feedback from people who have read my blog has caused my confidence to soar.
  • Unfortunately a hostile comment from a troll can also put me in a foul mood.
  • I would have felt a great deal more isolated when I moved across the country to a city where I didn’t know a soul if it weren’t for my on-line friends.
  • Some of the ridiculous stuff I read on Facebook has caused me to strengthen my moral, spiritual, and political convictions.

My on-line contacts have made me laugh and cry and love and trust and get angry and learn… in other words, to live fully. And for that I will be forever grateful.

The virtual me.
The virtual me.

13 thoughts on “Virtual Influence

  1. lyn sutton

    I had to work so hard at accepting my real flesh and blood self that I fear what slipping on the skin of an Avatar would do. I might decide I like my virtual self better and let my real self disappear into the cloud.
    Your blog has enhanced my real life experience and I’m grateful I found it. Thank you.

    1. Awww, thanks Lyn! At the risk of corrupting you, though, I’ve found that Second Life has helped me figure out the real me even more. It strips away all that surface stuff, like looks and the way you dress and your economic status, and puts everyone on an equal playing field. That leaves you with the bare essence of you: your life experience and your character, and allows you to get to know it even better.
      Granted, it is a heady experience to shed the fat and age and ugliness for a time, but at the end of the day, that only reinforces the fact that that is not really what makes you you.

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