On Observations, Aspirations and Attitudes (part second)

(I beg your patience, once again, dear reader, as I continue the introspection of my previous entry.)

Those who have been following this journal will know that the progress of my Walking Tour of Caledon has been rather slow.  To date I have more-or-less thoroughly explored only a handful of the many regions of the State.  Looking back I see the reasons for this are manyfold.  First, the methodical approach I referenced previously means it takes me quite a while to cover the more densely laid out regions.  Second, I do occasionally fall victim to Aether storms, especially in more urbanized regions (and most especially in those with heavy use of Inscription a la Steam SkyCity) which renders my progress dreadfully slow.  Third, I continuously find myself distracted by the pursuit of other activities, be that stuttering attempts at Conjuration and Inscription, attending some dance, builder blitz or other such gathering or merely following the pull of curiosity.  Nevertheless, I continue to plug away and am confident that I will soon have traversed the length and breadth of Caledon.

“Do you see what I see?”

So, what insights have I gleaned after a mere three months of living in and about Caledon?  First, the people of Caledon, and the neo-Victorian grid, are some of the most welcoming, genuinely friendly, generous and helpful people I have encountered in this or any other plane of existence.  It is perhaps no mistake that there is a significant overlap between Caledonians and NCI staffers.  Second, Caledon is a vibrant thriving community thanks mostly, I believe, to an active social calendar.  Even before the Relay for Life season got underway one could find a ball, dance, poetry reading, book discussion or other such event nearly every day of the week.  Finally, I have derived much enjoyment and, in fact, found a measure of fulfilment in my activities within the grid without once having to worry whether I might survive without a single L$ in my account.

This brings to mind an intriguing  question.  What relevance, if any, does Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs have in the context of a Second Life, and by extension any so-called “virtual”, environment.  I make no claims to any particular acumen in the fields of sociology or psychology; so, my opinion on this question may have no value; but, I will offer it anyway.  If nothing else, my thoughts may engender an enlightening discussion.

To start with, I think that, with very few exceptions, we may safely assume that the so-called Residents of Second Life have their Phyisiological Needs pretty well in hand.  One would not, presumably, have sufficient leisure time, or access to the neccessary equipment, at  ones disposal to engage in a pastime such as Second Life unless this were the case.  The same might be said of the Safety needs as well, although perhaps the exceptions are less rare.

This brings us to the Social and Esteem needs. The first addresses the needs for Freiendship, Commaraderie, Group Identification and the like.  The second is also known as the Belonging need, the need to be accepted and valued by others.  Here is where I believe participation in a virtual community comes into play.  More learned persons than myself have studied the implications of “virtual” society.  Are the friendships/connections/associations we make in virutal worlds any less valid than those made in “meat space”?  I have seen or heard arguments on both sides of this question.  Naturally, I tend to favor the negative response, meaning that I view metaversal associations as being every bit as valid as traditional ones.  In fact, I submit, that the growth of aether based communities is actually re-defining how humans relate to one another.

And what of the Highest order of needs,  Self-Actualization?   Is it possible to acheive ones full potential as a sentient being in a virtual community?  I really don’t know.

Published in: on 8 April, 2009 at 3:17 PM  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Yes, no, no, yes, yes and yes.

    HA! Just kidding. 🙂

    I find this a very interesting group of topics … evolution, memes, mixed with virtual and real worlds.

    I think relationships can be real in any venue, depending on the intentions of the participants. Certainly, people engaged in relationships on SL feel attachment, concern, joy, pleasure, pain, disappointment and the rest of the spectrum of relationship-related emotion that is felt in RL.

    A person who considers SL a game will treat people like part of the game and their relationships in this game will not be valid … which, of course, can cause pain and disappointment to the person who engaged them with a different perspective.

    Provided all parties perceive their bonds as real, it will be real, to a fairly high degree, I think. Thus, social needs, esteem needs and belonging needs genuinely come into play. I believe people can learn a lot and grow a lot through SL relationships of any kind.

    As for evolution, I think that remains to be seen, but quite possible. For just one example: in view of the many nations whose citizens mingle freely in our little virtual world, without national boundaries or constraints, I believe SL could create a pivotal evolution of tolerance and goodwill. The boundaries that naturally exist between people of different nationalities could break down (if we let them). Should that happen, even a bit, it could eventually have significant consequences.

    Right, well I’ve walked out on this limb far enough. This complex of topics is a pretty big tree … I’ll try another branch on another day. Thank you!

    And, by the way, I’m completely intrigued and delighted by the sundial and can’t wait to see it. I shall proudly make a small plaque for Templemore – “The site of the first Plutonian sundial”. The day you came to the Magellan Colony was a lucky day for us all. And congratulations on your post at the Caledon Library, an august institution of wonderful reputation. We’re all very proud of you!

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