This is a personal valedictory, but it all begins with thoughts of friends.
We’ve all had friends in SL who vanished. They’re here for years – and then they’re gone. Nothing could be more frustrating than not knowing why.
Did she vanish because something very good happened to change her RL or because something very bad happened? Did she die? Did she get an alt and ditch her tribe? Will she ever be back? Did she forget she had friends?
When two lives overlap, a real life and an avatar’s, the image gets blurry. Is the real person really this loyal and supportive, or does she use SL to be her better self? Is she really my friend? Or does she RP that she is my friend? It’s hard to imagine that anyone could spend much time in SL without feeling this ghostly presence, the shadow and the reality.
I don’t want to be one of those … The Missing.
Perhaps the average SL user doesn’t notice or care about the layers of reality, but Zephyr has been here for more than 12 years. That’s a lot of connections, years of partners and sisters and enemies. From early days as a kajira – in Port Olni, Cardonicus, and several small backwaters – to her fleeing to freedom with the Sa Falarina then many years with the Zima Akam before finding a warm home at the campfire of the Veck ‘En, Zee has been a constant presence in Gor … like it or not.
I have chatted with SL friends many times about a vague sense of guilt over preferring SL to RL. Is this world liberating or is it an escape? When you consider the ramifications, escaping from reality is certainly unhealthy compared with dealing with reality. But none of this matters as I drift away. My thoughts turn to my dear friend Rosebud, who has vanished, leaving a black hole of concern for her. I don’t know if many – or any – across the sprawl of Gor will wonder what happened to Zee the way I worry about Rosebud, but I write this to explain.
My RL has speeded up. As I near the end of grad school, I am busy with my thesis, with dealing with family problems and with preparing to move eight time zones away. All this keeps my mind overheating with task after task. To me, life in Gor requires daily diligence. SL changes fast, with new tribal friends and new enemies, RP that evolves from day to day. Believe it or not, I used to think about tribal issues frequently while driving or taking a walk or doing the dishes. I felt a commitment to my tribe, and that followed me into RL. Now, there is no room in my head for non-essential concerns, and when I prioritize my day ahead, I find that SL just doesn’t matter now.
This was hard to accept. I have such deep allegiances here from current Veck ‘En like Maebh and Cups to those with whom I shared years of adventures. I may not interact much with those old friends like Peeps and Heather and Taja and … well, so many … but the connection was always there.
My reasons for drifting off no doubt include changes here in Gor. It got boring for me. The shrinking population, the growing number of pewpew first-person-shooter gamers, the lack of interplay between cities and tribes, the rote catch and release cycle of raids, the tedium of the pro forma naughty bits … all of those are probably factors. Also, my avatar’s persona was always based on being a brat who was a good enough fighter to back up the sass. As my fighting skills erode (how long can I keep blaming my computer?), a new chapter in Zee’s life seemed the only valid option, but I lack the devotion to work through that RP.
So I write this to bid you all a farewell. My account will stay open, since you never know, but I have been away for several months now and feel no loss. I will keep getting IMs sent to me in RL, so I will at least hear of events there.
I will never forget In-na’s parting words, a joyful message: “Be kind to each other and love what you have.” I certainly can make no more powerful statement, so as I fade away, I simply turn in my canoe to look over my shoulder and shout, “safe paths!”
By Zephyr (isolde bethune)