Why did you originally start in SL and did you have any specific goals or hopes for your experience?
A friend told me about sl so I came on to see what it was like. I fell in love with the fashion right away. Who doesn't like to shop?
Were you role playing a character or was your avatar the real you?
I had several avatars for role play or for blogging. I had one for business and one for getting around when I didn't want to be bothered. I also had a couple for sexual play. Some were more like me than others. Some were complete fantasy.
Looking back now, do you think there was another reason you went in and stayed as long as you did?
As I said, I got caught up in fashion, in role play, in sex, in blogging. They changed in their importance to me as time went on.
How did SL help you?
I have trouble answering that. How does a television help you? I enjoyed SL. It was a way to spend time. I learned things about my computer and Photoshop. I think I learned things about myself; you try things you never would in real life. Some you like. Some you don't.
Did SL harm you in any way, if so how?
I got too involved. I neglected my rl. I let sl replace rl. I think you lose part of your contact with the real world when you only focus on a virtual reality. I blurred the lines between reality and virtuality.
What was the best experience you had?
The highs were falling in love, new relationships, winning a competition, being accepted on a feed, having readers, being a slebrity. I am being honest even though I don't like this answer. I was happiest when I was "on top." I thought it meant something. I felt I was this beautiful woman with a bottomless closet and the ability to go to fashion shows, and dancing, and to romantic beautiful places. Everything was perfect. I wanted to be that perfect person and it became a nicer image to look at than the truth of my own life.
What was the worst?
The worst part is obvious from my last answer. It would have to be anything that shattered that illusion.
What was the cost, if any, for your RL? Or was it just totally a benefit?
I abandoned my rl in many ways. SL also cost me a lot of money. It seems like a couple of dollars here and there but it adds up and you end up putting so much money into making yourself look successful that it got to the point I was not paying real life bills. It is very seductive and you justify in your mind that it is important and worth it.
I am sure you lived through, perhaps even survived some or many of the dramas that unfold in SL, can you speak to a couple of things about those types of incidents. Firstly the perpetrators and secondly the victims. What would you like to say to them in terms of helpful advice?
A lot of the people in the fashion industry in sl are people who have never known any success and when they find it in sl, they don't know how to handle it. Fame becomes very intoxicating. They get big headed about it but are still insecure. Insecure people need a group. Groups in here are where everyone agrees with what the leader (s) say. Some of the businesses have lists of people you are not supposed to talk to because someone doesn't like that person. You are not to talk to them or do any business with them. It is so juvenile; it is no surprise that they take the fights into public which escalates the issue. Mountains out of mole hills. Everyone gets involved and reputations are ruined, all by people who know nothing about what has happened and probably have never met the person being maligned. Insecure people need other people to stand with them because they are not strong enough to stand on their own.
It is easier to bully people in SL because you don't have to ever face them or face the consequences of community for your actions.
Do you miss it? What specifically do you miss?
I don't miss anything now. It got really bad for me. I had a hard time logging in towards the end. I was bored.
What has LL failed to understand about the potential of SL?
LL has followed their own mandate to create the world and let the citizens determine what it is. I don't have a problem with this. I think people have some idea that LL should be more involved but it is a business for them and I think they are clear in their own minds of what they are.
What about society as a whole, what should they know about SL?
That there is much more here than just sex. Sex is here of course but sex is everywhere. SL just happens to be more open about it being here. There are many opportunities. Since I have been out of sl I have been interested to learn how many businesses and universities are using SL. Also there are many performers. SL can do a lot of good if used properly. There is real potential there.
Do you think anyone can come into SL, work hard and get ahead or is there more involved than that?
Fashion is cruel. It probably is in real life too. I don't know how you get "in." I knew designers, models and bloggers who were left out and never knew really why. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with talent or personality. It is like a club and you have to be invited or something. It wasn't always that people were targetted to be left out, it was more that we were just so self-absorbed we didn't see other people that were certainly talented enough to be included. You could say we didn't make it impossible for people, but we didn't make it easy either.
I can say that the drama is even worse than you might think because you see a lot in the feeds and on social media but there is even more behind the scenes. I think people are just so insecure about who they are and sl suddenly makes them someone and they attack anyone who threatens that. I also think if you are different or someone who will not say and do what they do, then you have no chance.
Hard work is not the key although it is part of it. You have to pay one way or another, for example Modeling schools, all the clothes for blogging, or give up your individuality. The best photographers do not win the contests. The best bloggers do not have the most readers. There is no standard of excellence, there are only people you have to suck up to.
Did there come a point when you knew that the shine was pretty much gone for you? Did you do anything to try and rekindle that or were you prepared to walk away at that point? In hindsight do you think you should have left earlier?
Yes as I said, I got bored. I tried to stay and tried to keep my company going. I left when things were going well but I just did not have any heart left for it. Even with all my alts. I should have left earlier.
Romantic relationships in SL ... What is that all about and do you think they are healthy, fun, dangerous or all the above?
Romance was fun. Sex was exciting. I tried things that were fantasy for me and I enjoyed them. I hated the lies and the games that entered every romantic connection. It just seems so juvenile.
I was not looking for marriage. I was open. Women blame the men and men blame the women. I think both sexes are fuckers when it comes to how they use and treat one another in sl.
Anyone from SL still make an active effort to keep in touch with you? Any long lasting friendships or have you completely moved on?
I left sort of abruptly. I was amazed how quickly SL moved on without me and my footprint was erased. I thought I was so important, a slebrity, and now I see how ridiculous that all was. It makes me embarrassed.
No, no-one stays in touch. But neither do I.
Would you be happy to see your daughters plugging into SL and being as excited about it as you once were? Why or why not?
I would never want my daughters to waste their time in sl. I hope they would know how perfect they are, as imperfect as rl is. Isn't that the beauty of it?? Seriously,think about it.
Do you think people really understood who you were while you were here? If not, what are some of the things you think people missed and you wish they had known?
Not now I don't. They knew my personna. They liked my position and ability to give them opportunities. SL is funny, it has roles that have to be filled. SL loves the roles, they don't care as much about who fills them. Avatars are interchangeable but the roles stay.
I played the role. No-one asked or seemed to care much about me in RL. As long as people got paid and everything was beautiful. We played at friendship. I think people play with what is in front of them or available.
Looking back what do you think SL could have been, maybe should have been for you?
I wish the amount of time I spent in SL actually benefitted RL in some way so that when I was done I was further ahead than when I started and not further behind. It was not that I was behind in the true sense, but that the world had gone on without me while I sat at my computer playing fashion. I have no real life fashion skills. I have nothing I can put on a resume to further my RL. I am the stereotype. I am a middle-aged, overweight, divorced woman who does not go out much due to health concerns; who lives on a pension. Sometimes I sat in front of my computer in my pajamas all day, pretending to be a beautiful thin, business woman. I liked that person better than I liked to look in my own mirror.
What are you doing now? Do you think SL contributed in any way to the path you are now on? If so, what and how?
It's a dilemma for me because sl showed me I am more than my circumstances but who looks beyond that in rl? It seems cruel to have seen a vision I liked but that vision had no substance. It is like taking a drug to feel better and you feel great but it doesn't actually fix the problem, does it?
Any final comments?
I thought a long time about doing this interview and my answers. I don't want to sound like I'm bagging everyone else. I am admitting my own problems too. I was not always nice and we sat around and laughed at other people and said and did things that were totally uncalled for. We had no right to do that and I am sure some of the people we laughed at are twice the person I will ever be. I am ashamed of how I behaved and none of my virtual success makes up for it. Here I am, away from SL, and no-one cares about what I did. It was nothing, even though at the time, I thought it was everything.
No. 1 Colby Pevensey
No. 1 Colby Pevensey