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October 06, 2012



Prokofy, I beg to differ about the value of interaction with virtual friends when one is facing diversity, particularly illness and confinement. In the not-so-long ago I suddenly became very ill and spent 6 weeks in the hospital (2 different ones, actually.) In the first days I received a flurry of RL visitors, and a couple of family members made regular, albeit brief, visits, but most of the time I was alone in that dreadful place. If you have ever spent time in the gulag of a large teaching hospital, perhaps you can relate to my experience. This is not a friendly place. Sure there are many people, maybe even a few kind and compassionate people, but all are very busy, and you the patient are a curiosity to be studied and handled, not a new friend to be made. A bird flying in the patch of sky outside the window, a gurney ride for a CAT scan, or the rantings of a delirious roommate provide little distraction from the fear and dread that consumes the patient in a hospital. As soon as I was able I asked for my laptop and was thrilled to discover that, firewalls be damned, Second Life was within reach on the hospital wifi. Soon I was back to semi-normal, hanging out with my FRIENDS (yes, even Chestnut Rau) in Second Life, dancing and listening to music, creating and sharing and having fun. I chose to share my health dilemma with some Second Life pals and not others, and the daily support and caring from these special few friends was as important to my recovery as the liquids dripping down through the IV.Second Life gave me an opportunity to FEEL NORMAL when my body most certainly was not. It kept me sane in an insane situation. As you described, I too have many friends who give me that "deer in the headlights" look when I speak about virtual worlds, which mean nothing to them. They are amused by my avatar existence, and even to this day continue to warn me that it might actually be dangerous to reveal my true self to scary internet people, But in those days when death was a real possibility, and I wondered if I would ever again breathe fresh air, the virtual world gave me a lifeline to my normal, and helped to fight back. Today I am fine, and those scary internet people are still my friends, even more so from having shared a life or death experience with me.


"if you don't "share" how will you ever get better?;)"


computer droids and aspys like to count.... thats why they took Rainman to vegas...

er Zuck to Wallstreet/

btw- "The Master" worth the 10.50 to even 13.50 if one can afford it. support films/arts for non children.

GreenLantern Excelsior

Great article! I never complain about my problems online, because I'm sure that more than two thirds of the people on the planet could say "You think that's bad? Here's what I have to go through ever day of my life..." It bugs me a little to see well-fed people sitting in their climate controlled homes in front of their powerful electronic computers, endlessly whining about how they are unable to function because they are so depressed. You think that's bad? What about the child whose internal organs are being slowly eaten by parasites? What about the woman who has her nose and ears sliced off by an angry mob as revenge for the actions of someone else in her family? What about the man watching his whole family die of malaria because the Western world banned the effective insecticide that could have saved them? My life may not be perfect, but compared to many people in the world, it's a bed of roses (without the thorns), and I consider myself to be lucky for a whole host of reasons. Many of the people who are doing the complaining could benefit from a heightened sense of perspective.

Prokofy Neva

My goal is to accentuate the pluralities of experience and not let some FIC types with huge mindshare in our little pond create a coercive sense of culture. And that's why I speak up against Grace McDunnough or Rust-bucket Mariner or any of them -- and even Chestnut Rau, God forbid! They moralize heavily while thinking they are iconoclasts -- that's the worst.

Yes, I've spent time in the "gulag" of a large hospital, and I'm grateful for the fact that I know Russian, and even more grateful that I know the word for "bedpan," because then I'd have a one in twelve chance of knowing at least some language spoken by the numerous foreign med students and doctors working in large hospitals. In fact one of the most painful thing about a hospital stay is precisely that welter of foreign cultures, almost none of them include what we would call "a bedside manner". And frankly, I wanted no visitors during those times of misery because they didn't help -- but each to his own.

Don't you find it odd, though, that your real friends and relatives are too busy, but people online -- who must be busy, too, no? don't they have lives? -- they would find time for you. Maybe because they really don't have to look at you in the Trendelenburg position or with splints raised or tubes inserted?

It's good to be religious, because hospital stays are alleviated by prayer and reading of devotional literature. But any book will do!

I can't imagine tuning into SL when I've been in the hospital or staying with sick kids in the hospital -- I was simply too preoccupied with the emergency. Possibly it might work for some. But real people might be preferable. Certainly at the end of your life's journey. Your idea that going online while in dire straits in RL might help you feel normal is an intriguing one and I think that's useful -- but then, wouldn't it depend on you maintaining a fiction that you are as eternal and young and healthy as your avatar?

Avatar existences have their charms. I'm all for them. But I do feel at the edges of them there is a hollowness if not a madness. And I think hours online unburdening yourself about your illnesses isn't actually so helpful. Those "scary Internet friends" that helped you with a scary real-life situation -- well, at any moment, they may go AFK, or not be able to pay tier, or something might pull them away. Well, there's always Plurk. But real life can't be beat.

GLE -- yes, as the kids say today in scorn, "First World Problems" lol. Indeed. You're sitting comfortably at your high-end computer in a climate-controlled environment with enough food by your side and flush toilets, even! And of course, electricity. And you are complaining? About what, again?

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