Yesterday was my birthday, and in addition to getting an ehaving a banana split the size of my head instead of cake, I received an oversized helping of love from my social network. Here’s the quick breakdown:
2 phone calls
6 text messages
11 forum postings on FreelanceSuccess.com
12 private messages on Facebook
46 Facebook wall posts and comments
In other words, I received far more love than I actually deserve.
Meanwhile, my Second Life avatar, Tewonawonga Solo, who I technically suppose shares the same birthday as me, was sitting mindlessly alone on some park bench in a virtual world, unloved by anyone—most especially me.
I’m not a Second Life user. I created Tewonawonga Solo only for the purpose of researching MMOs, the massively multiplayer online world. Admittedly, the virtual world fascinates me because it’s very similar to the metaverse envisioned by author Neil Stephenson in his book Snow Crash, but I scarcely have time to devote to the real world, much less a rendered simulacra of it.
Still, for whatever bizarre reason, I kept thinking about Tewonawonga Solo on my birthday. Feeling sorry for him/me. I imagined other more beautifully-rendered avatars, with their fancy designer hair and skin, throwing leftover burrito wrappers at him/me while I/he sat on that imaginary park bench, staring blankly. I imagined avid Second Life users, who strolled (or flew) past Tewonawonga frequently, wondering about the name Tewonawonga, doing a Google search and finding a connection between that Star Wars-inspired web handle and me, and then thinking poorly of me because I let this virtual version of myself live the life of a vagabond.
This morning I cancelled the account, terminating Tewonawonga Solo’s short and uneventful life. Second Life assured me that I could keep the account indefinitely, come back whenever I wanted, and all would be fine. But it’s that permanence, that eternal artifact, that made me feel so resolute. The thought of neglecting a piece of myself, however artificial, was too much to bear.
And I’d like to imagine that Second Life suicide victims go to Second Life heaven, if they’ve finished coding such a place.
What pieces of your digital life have been abandoned or neglected lately? Why don’t you love them anymore? And why do hang on? Leave a comment below.