Well, it was very much Friday Lunchtime Pub Weather today but foolishly I neglected to take advantage of it; warm but not oppressive or blinding sun, gentle breeze, really the best sort of day one can expect in London where the weather generally switches between miserable and grey for most of the year to unpleasantly oven-like for a couple of weeks, the rays bouncing around and turning the pollution into a chemical weapon.
As I mentioned, though, I didn’t take advantage of this because I knew that if I went out I wouldn’t come back. I’d find some reason. Either that or I’d get drunk and really not enjoy the next few hours of foot-tapping clock-watching sobering-up. And I have work to do. On the work front, it is very very lucky that I didn’t do either, because a problem has arisen in that way that they do at 4pm on a Friday, which I am now still here fixing, though hopefully not for much longer.
I don’t trust the thing though. You can’t trust computers for a moment. I’ll probably pop in on Sunday to check that it’s run properly. It’s not like I have anything else to do. Well, not entirely true, but I think it would be healthy for me not to play Second Life for at least a few hours of the weekend.
That’s really all I’ve been doing outside of work for the last few weeks or perhaps months; building, scripting, even playing in character to a degree – unusual there – to the extent where I actually dreamed that I was my avatar the night before last. Anyone who plays computer games before bed will be quite well aware of the phenomenon of dreaming about being inside the game, the classic example being “Tetris Dreams“, but actually dreaming about being your character outside the game, inside real life, is… concerning. Perhaps.
I have this impression that World Of Warcraft addiction seems to be popping up as an issue more and more, e.g. Tom Coates, but it’s probably just that I am particularly sensitive to the issue at the moment. It’s not quite the same for me, though. I don’t really get addicted to games – I find that I never get to the point where I’m playing them so much that it becomes problematic, because at that stage I get bored. I just don’t have very much invested in succeeding at them. Getting to the end has never been important enough to me to distract me from other entertaining things, and the moment I close the window or shut the Gameboy I don’t care any more. Second Life isn’t really a game anyway, not having any inherent goal. You can’t ever say you’ve “won” SL, no matter how much money you make, how much land you own, how many prim shoes you have.
The social aspect of SL is often cited as the addictive part but I find that I’ve spent enough time on the internet to get over that as well. After my early days of being utterly obsessed with bulletin boards and communities and instant messaging and chat rooms, I seem to now have the ability to basically say “meh, whatever, internet”, go to another site or quit the browser, and never care again. Like Eastenders, it all seems terribly important whilst you’re involved in it but a few days of not watching and you wonder why you ever gave a shit.
It’s fun talking to people, building things, scripting things and blowing things up, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the anonymity, the reinvention that’s really keeping me there. There’s fun in creating things and a certain curiosity that I have as to whether I can fund myself on it by selling widgets, how the community I’m involved with will develop and why, but really, it’s getting away from not only my life but myself that I think is hooking me. I don’t even play a particularly bizarre character there either, no furry parts or anything. It’s just very different from my actual appearance, social position and life generally. I start to become uncomfortable when conversation seems to be veering towards my First Life, and make excuses.