Death Of A Skeptic Part 1

We’re thrilled to be able to introduce a new writer at The Metaverse Journal. Bix Ashbourne is in real-life based in the USA and after some chats in-world I suggested he might like to document his experiences as a new user in a virtual world – in this case, Second Life. Below is Part 1 of his journey from skeptic to virtual world resident.

Dec. 14th, 2007.

Bix on a crash

Winding down on the shittiest year of my life. Sitting up in bed on a Friday night, I began to seriously start wondering about this Second Life thing. I figure, I’m already alone….the internet is dead…no one on my chat forums…what the hell. All I gotta do is look. Might be good for a laugh.

For the past year or more, I’ve been poo-pooing this SL thing. Real life is difficult enough, so what the hell do you need a second one for? Can’t get the first one dialed in, a second one oughta be just the ticket to encouraging a chemical dependency of some sort, most likely from one of the major drug manufacturers. Just wait ’til the tax folk find a way inside.
But, it’ll be something to do, I reason, ’cause despite a backlog of projects, I’m bored out of my skull.

I poke around. I get a feel for the process, the environment, the vibe. I start wondering, out loud, to my friends on the chat forums, about this place. The very same people to whom I openly made fun of–in a well-meaning if not somewhat self-righteous fashion. And who must surely at that moment, be kicking back with a drink, chuckling to themselves about the burgeoning RL casualty developing on their LCD’s.

Dec. 15th.

More searching. More musing. More acceptance. More cheese and crackers. More chicken on the grill. The possibility of muscular atrophy in my lower extremities is very distinct.

Dec. 16th.

Early in the afternoon, I make my first tenuous steps at the website. The name…who’d’ve thunk that would be so difficult? Apparently, someone at Linden Labs thunk it, because I didn’t get the first names I really wanted, and was treated to a dizzying array of surname options. After much deliberation, some snacks, and a pot of decaf, I settle on a name. I’m pretty good with it.

I take the plunge, and launch.

Thank god for Orientation Island, structured so that you don’t ever feel the briny tentacles of the etherbeast slithering into your awareness, forever altering your tangible interactions with the outside world. I grab a torch. I fool with my appearance (to hell with love handles and who really wants a coin purse for a package?). I crash into things. I ogle some woman changing her features before my eyes. I crash into another woman while ogling the first one. I stare blankly at people chatting me in French. I watch other people pop out of the sky, all bearing a strange resemblance to me. Hey…get your own damn androgynous look, thank you very much. I get some stuff dialed in on my body. I quickly learn to loathe the rolled-up cuffs of the Noob’s jeans.

Apparently, I dialed in well, as a fetching young avatar named Nathasja took a shine to me, and struck up a conversation, along with a few other things. We talk sweet and sexy, having to move every few minutes due to people who can’t get enough of causing people hassle, or acting the obnoxious drunk at a gathering (like the guy that swooped down on us and screamed for sex on the grass, then told us to go fuck ourselves after an awkward pause); we were about to achieve a breakthrough, of sorts, when we got bludgeoned by an inferiority complex piloting a plane. Thrown way out of our way, and into two different spots, I never heard from her again.

I look at the clock. Hello? You can’t be serious. Oh, but it is, the clock as serious as Dallas newsmen on a November day. And, as if to sense my disbelief and grabbing some salt for the wound, the sun began to poke through the wooden blinds of my bedroom shutters. Over 12 hours later, and not an ounce of energy lost. What is this strange technology, that can infuse energy into a person without so much as hearing a whisper from the butler that delivers your third wind?

I finally log off. My laptop breathes a heavy sigh as the fans can finally shut off. As I pull up the covers, I am awake and exhausted. This is going to be a long day. I can feel the bags under my eyes being crafted by the ghosts of former Samsonite employees (I think that’s what they do in the afterlife, create eyebags…I always wish they were a little more stylish, had fewer pockets, and weren’t so damned rugged.)

This is going to be a long day.

Go to Part 2

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