Where was that again?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Love in Two Worlds

So there is a topic which has been brought up several times now on my Facebook newsfeed. Something that baffles many people who have grown up with what society has decided to shove out there as acceptable. How can you tell two different people you love them, in a romantic way, and mean it to both people? Simply put, we all possess the capacity to love multiple people, beyond friendship. The issue isn’t what we’re humanly capable of doing; it’s more so what we’ve decided is acceptable behavior, as well as a bit of human nature.

It’s said that natural behavior through evolution dictates that we should live essentially polyamorous lifestyles, and that monogamy is difficult for some because of this nature. I’d argue against this, primarily because one of the things that separate humans from the rest of nature is our ability to make logic based decisions, as well as form morals and values, not just relying on instinct alone. This is where the primary issue arises though.

It is completely possible to love two people, in the same fashion, and mean it. However, it very rarely works out well. This is, in part, because of the selfish side of our nature. The great majority of us, whether fueled by natural desire or society’s standard, want to be someone’s “one and only” and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all want to feel special and important to the person that we love. We want them to love us in return and only us. Sometimes we want that love to expand into more, by way of having a family. This is all natural ingrained feelings. However, we need to keep in mind that this isn’t always how life works out, nor is it what works for every person.

I’ll mention here that my personal morals and values are such that I wouldn’t personally involve myself with someone on SL were I married in RL, primarily because when I love someone and I’m involved with them, then there is no one else, it’s not an option I allow for myself. I also hold RL steady dating relationships in the same light. I also prefer the same dedication from the one I’m with, as I don’t share well when it comes to the person I’m actually in a relationship with. However, I know that my feelings aren’t shared by all, and for the ones who don’t, hopefully whatever their outlook is, works well for them.

I’d hope most people would have sense enough to agree that love can never be defined in a “one size fits all” definition, nor should one person’s definition be applied to anyone else. Even in religion, you’re supposed to form your own personal relationship with the worshiped figure or figures, in addition to the basic worship of them. Take from that example that once you get past the basics of it, you have to then define the rest for yourself. This is what you do with love.

Having said all of that though, I do not believe that anyone who is in a RL partnership but participating in an SL partnership can ever honestly claim to have a complete RL partnership. SL relationships come about because people have a void that needs to be filled; some want or desire that’s not being met. This can be emotional, sexual, mental, whatever, but something isn’t there. Does that mean it’s not a happy RL partnership? Well, what you or I require to be happy can differ greatly from the next person, so it’s hard to answer that. However, I have enough confidence that I’d be willing to bet money that my assessment is correct.

I believe that these relationships can develop in an emotionally healthy fashion, but that depends greatly on four factors: honesty, communication, respecting boundaries, and not forgetting the reality of the situation when all is said and done. It’s a balancing act that not everyone can do. It takes people with the ability to balance things. Some will participate in these relationships with the full knowledge and blessing of their RL partners, which is great for them. Others will have to keep the two worlds separate, and find the proper balance between the two.

The issue of whether or not it was cheating in some way, on their RL partners… well, it’s another grey area. Some people think that the implied actions via sex animations constitute cheating. Others put that line at achieving RL orgasm via the masturbation that can accompany the sex animations. The line could wait until voice is involved through mediums such as SL, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Gmail Chat, etc. You get the idea without me continuing down the line. Everyone has their personal line, and a few even start it back at flirting. It’s another situation where it’s going to be a different definition for each person.

Due to the nature of SL relationships, the people who choose to not involve their RL partners with their SL relationships have their reasons. Sometimes they’re not in a happy RL partnership, but stuck in a situation they can’t easily get out of. This doesn’t facilitate a situation where they can be open with their RL partner about what they do in SL, especially not if they get into an SL partnership. I’d venture to say that a lot of people in this particular situation wouldn’t normally step outside of their RL relationships if the issues didn’t exist.

For those who fit somewhat into both categories, where their RL partner doesn’t know about their SL lifestyle, but their RL relationships aren’t heading toward separation, they’re in the most scrutinized position. They cause people the most confusion. However, it goes back up to getting a void filled. The statement “what you won’t do, someone else will” is very true. Should it be considered cheating? Well, refer back to my paragraph above on that. I would personally venture to say that as long as reality is kept in place, that the SL situation can help keep the RL relationship from heading down the path to separation.  That might be playing devil’s advocate a bit, but if you consider that if it’s kept to SL, reality stays in place, RL doesn’t get affected by it, and it takes a glaring issue down to nothing… also, no RL kids come out of it, no STDs are brought home, and the only negative potential that I can see in it is hurt feelings if RL finds out and doesn’t accept it, or someone forgets reality in SL.

So how do we summarize this…? Well, we’ll say that each person has to choose what works for them. In addition, keep in mind that what works for you may not work for the next person. Love, happiness, and cheating are two things that have to be defined by each person. There are some common things in each that the great majority will agree upon, but as most know, it’s the details that count. What’s most important is to not find yourself in a relationship that you’re not capable of dealing with.

These are my thoughts on the subject; feel free to share yours below. Thank you for reading. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Love You...

Three simple words, strung together, intended to convey an array of feelings and emotions. Recently, I read an article byline that proclaimed them to be number one on some current list of the biggest lies told in relationships. It amused me enough to stick in my brain, not because I think it’s wrong, but rather, because I think it’s been one of the most abused phrases for many, many years.  We all think we know what it means, you probably have some image or thought of what love involves… chances are, you’re wrong. Maybe not terribly, but the sad truth is that the concept of love, and what it should be, what it should involve, has been so distorted over the centuries that you’d have trouble getting a group of people to agree with each other on the subject. 

Well… that’s almost true. There is one detail that everyone, yes everyone, can agree on…  We all crave it to the core of our very being. 

What is the real definition? I don’t have a complete answer to that. I know that it’s possible to love more than one person, and I know that there are multiple types of love. I also know that love isn’t a “one size fits all” situation, but not because there aren’t common threads between the different types, rather due to the distortion of what we consider love to be today. What do I know about it? Let’s see:

  • Love is not stringing a person along, that’s selfishness. 
  •   Love is not abusive. It does not harm out of anger, or a desire to control another person. 
  • Love is not turning your back on someone because they do something you dislike.
  • Love is not being disloyal in your relationships, be it romantic, family, or friendship. 
  •  Love is not a word meant for the “flavor of the week”.
  • Love is not perfect. 
  •  Love is not a toy, game, or myth.
I could go on, but I need to also mention: 
  • Love is meant to be like a sweet embrace, comforting and peaceful. 
  •  Love is sustaining in its own right. Not in the physical sense, rather in the emotional sense. 
  •  Love is respect, loyalty, supportiveness, appreciation, and honesty. 
  •  Love is unselfish, and often means some sacrifice. 
  •  Love is for friends. 
  •  Love is for family. 
  •  Love is for your romantic partner.
  •  Love is rewarding.
  •  Love is real.
With what most of us understand love to be, it’s not surprising that we crave it so badly. What’s sad is that the “love is not” list is more descriptive of today’s society than the “love is” list. It’s really not all that surprising that people jump in and out of relationships the way they do, when you take things into consideration. 

When I sit back and watch people on SL, whether it’s in game, or more commonly now, on FaceBook, jump in and out of relationships, I notice one common thread. The phrase “I love you”, with whatever additional text they throw in there, seemingly within minutes of them announcing they’re together. Not the worst things in the world, until you see the same person or people announce they’re with someone new, and plastering that same phrase all over each other’s wall posts and in pick tabs. It’s simply not realistic, not with everything that love should really be. 

I’d be willing to accept this “love at first sight” style concept, if it didn’t seem like they were riding the word as if it were a pogo stick, bouncing in and out of relationships within days of each other.  That’s not love, it’s a giant banner over your head that says “I want so badly to know what it feels like to truly be loved, and truly love someone else, that I’m willing to look like a whore who can’t make their mind up while I try to find it.” (there’s burn cream on the table to the left, help yourself *smiles*) 

You want to know what love really feels like? Well, it doesn’t feel like a pogo stick. Pretty much everyone, regardless of the type of love, will have to go through the same process of getting to know someone and putting time and effort into the relationship before real love will begin.

A new mother spends time developing the relationship with her child, during pregnancy, before she truly loves it. A father will go through part of the same process, but a lot of the relationship building happens after birth. Siblings get to know one another, as well as extended family, and build the bond after the birth, as well. The sense of obligation, protection, etc. isn’t love; it’s the barebones nature of many species.

Think about your closest friends, it took time to develop the friendship into what it is today, work and effort. Fights happen, but they make things stronger. Respect must exist in friendship, as with any relationship, and trust is also of extreme importance. Love doesn’t happen overnight here either, it develops from common interests and bonding, from proving one’s self to be a “good friend”, and then, through the bonding process, love develops. This kind of love can range from simple to something that strongly resembles the familial love mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Those warm and fuzzy feelings you have about your new romantic relationship, that’s the euphoria that comes with having someone show interest in you, not because they’re obligated to, but because they want to. Those feelings are the stepping stones to the real relationship. It’s important to note that those feelings are not love. They’re lust, wonderment, amazement, excitement, and probably a few other things… but they’re not love. Enjoy the ride, but don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment to the extent that confusion sets in. Watch things grow, tend to the new bud, and if it doesn’t start to wither away, you might get to watch it bloom into what you’ve been chasing, love.

Take this blog post however you want, comment below if you choose to… but if you made it this far, you may as well take a few minutes to process what you read. Love exists, it’s such an exquisite thing that all humans crave it, yet it’s so often treated no better than a jacket, tossed wherever it lands, and picked back up when we need warmth. Start appreciating it for the gift that it is, and it might open a whole new world out there for you. Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Internet Gangstas... they're gonna email a cap right in yo ass!

Back in 1996 I was introduced to the social side of the internet, via chat rooms on the formerly popular AOL internet program. Boy what a world that opened up… I read some things I’d never heard in my 16 years of life, and a few things that I hadn’t heard since elementary school. I also learned about a whole new set of “people classifications” so to speak. The one that grabs the most notice in the virtual world is the Internet Gangsta. Why, you ask? Well, it depends on which side you want to look at it from.

How do you identify an internet gangsta from the rest of the group? Simply really… they’re the ones with typically short fuses who are known to toss threats around like candy. Anything from telling someone they’re going to kick their ass, to the more extreme threats of taking the issue to real life. Things are often extreme with them more than they’re relaxed, and minor infractions are seen as major offenses when deemed to be against them. They usually have a small group of people who encourage the behavior, and also make attempts to emulate the same tactics. By now, if you’ve spent any time in social settings on the internet, you’re probably able to get a picture of what type of person I’m talking about… if no picture comes to mind, you may need to grab a mirror.

So back to answering the original question of Why?  Well, if you’re one of those who support the behavior, you’re going to say, Why not? You don’t see anything wrong with it; you think that it’s fun as well as funny. You probably go to sleep at night thinking about who your next target is. It’s a side thought, even when there are other things going on. It helps your world go ‘round.

The ones who are targeted often feel compelled to respond back to the verbal or written assault, as they feel like they have to defend themselves. They don’t like the internet gangstas, wouldn’t dream of acting out as if they were one, but often end up looking just as bad in the end. Not of their own fault so much, as it’s natural to want to defend one’s self and one’s honor.  Rather, because they were unable to, at some point, decide the venture was pointless and just walk away from it. It’s hard to fault the ‘victim’ in the situation, so they often get a pass… unless a pattern develops, at which time a friend or two of the ‘victim’ might step in and offer some sound advice.

Now we move onto the other primary group, who we’ll call the bystanders. The bystanders are the average social network user. They’re the ones who sit back and survey the interactions between internet gangstas and their victims. They’re the people who shake their heads at the ‘gangstas’ and try to advise the ‘victims’. Rarely do they become victims themselves, because they see the ‘gangstas’ for what they really are.

What are they? Well, I guess that’s what this blog entry is boiling down to… They’re bullies, only more pitiful. What else can you call someone who is so miserable with their real lives that they have nothing better to do than sit behind a computer and spew useless threats of physical harm which they’ll never carry out beyond their dreams. They talk about their attitudes, how dangerous they are, what method they’ll use to cause physical harm. It could be anything from a simple punch/knockout scenario, to the more extreme homicidal threat. In my opinion, the bigger the threat they suggest themselves to be, the bigger the chance they’re deflecting their level of misery with themselves and their lives. A less common, but just as legitimate explanation for the behavior would be that they were bullied when they were growing up, and they’re expressing their anger over that online, where they feel the chance of repercussions are essentially nonexistent. Other explanations do exist, but are even less common than the one I just briefly mentioned, but they all come back to the same thing in the end.

So what might be the proper way to deal with these ‘gangstas’? Not reacting to them is usually the best start. Make use of the mute button, if you feel like you’re going to have trouble not reacting. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that it can be fun to instigate one of these types to react, as they’re typically much too easy to get response from, it’s not always worth it. The best policy is to ignore the dramatics and go on about your business, and leave them sitting there with their little clique and their misery. 

Got thoughts or opinions to add? Go for it, make use of the comment box below, just don’t be abusive.

Until the next time… 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bad Business...

As a consumer, I often find myself with the outsider’s perspective on things like business ethics, and what seems to make one business succeed where the others have failed. I also have the freedom to my opinion on what makes good business practice, from a consumer’s position.

There’s one thing that will always work out in the favor of the consumer… competition between businesses. Why does this work in the favor of the customer? Simply put, the product that’s presented to us needs to be more appealing than the competition’s. There needs to be something there that makes us sit back and say “Yes, this one is better than that one, and this is the one that will get my money.” It’s important and necessary to have this available, it’s nearly relatable to a “survival of the fittest” effect, where only the best will thrive and the rest will fall to the wayside.

What happens for the consumer when there is no competition? A higher chance of us being presented with a lesser product, and the choice of use it or don’t. There’s nothing that pushes the creator to present us with something that works, at a fair price, and we’re left with the simple choice of use it or don’t. Not a very appealing prospect, is it?

Let’s take this further… What happens when you have this product that is decent, has been selling with no real competition, but has hit a point where there are people who aren’t satisfied with the changes have been made and decide to get back to basics with a product of their own? It means that the product that was already in existence should recognize that they have a competitor and might need to look at what caused the former customer to become competition. For the consumer, it means they have a new option to consider and possibly test out.

Let’s take a real life example for perspective, one most people can relate to. Coca Cola and Pepsi are two major corporations; they have coexisted for many years doing exactly what we, as consumers, would expect them to do. They run their businesses with one primary goal: Make the consumer feel that their company is the better one to spend their money with. They try different tactics in advertising, in product development, in consumer relations. 

What don’t these two powerhouses do? Try and run each other out of town. Why? Because it doesn’t look good to the consumer, those people who spend the money that keeps those businesses from going under. They don’t sit there and say “If you consume their product, you’re not allowed to consume ours.” That would be ridiculous, bad “PR” if you will. 

What we know to be reality is that some people prefer one over the other, while others aren’t particular and either will do. Either way, these companies allow for competition, because it’s healthy for business. It says they’re not scared of the competition, because they’re secure enough that their product will not fall to its proverbial knees under the weight of the opposition. 

What does all this have to do with SL, you ask? Well, simply put, there’s a business in SL that has decided that the best tactic to keep the lindens coming in is to run off the competition, rather than welcome the challenge. It’s not something that’s life altering, but because people’s money is being played with, so to speak, it is worth mentioning the situation in hopes that someone who can make a difference will pay attention to something other than the current “cash out” rate on the Linden exchange and recognize that there will be nothing to cash out if they stay on the same track they’re on now. Slow your damned roll and realize that your product is capable of holding its own against a competitor, if you’d put your priorities in the right order.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m merely a consumer with an opinion.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Breaking Point...

The above song spawned this post, and I think it’s a fantastic song (can't see the video? click here)…. But the concept of a breaking point in relationships shouldn’t be limited to women, rather it should be recognized as gender neutral thing, as it is something that both men and women experience.  

Relationships come about because two people find themselves attracted to one another in some fashion. Conventionally, it’s a physical attraction that occurs when two people see each other. However, in the digital era, online dating has grown in popularity as well, and this brings a different aspect to the dating game. When it comes to dating in SL, you’re most common attraction will be to someone’s personality over their looks, as their real life looks are generally secondary in discovery. Anyway, two people connect on some level, this connection is explored, the relationship is formed, and the fun begins.

You have the honeymoon period, where everything is butterflies and rainbows, and they decide they’ve fallen in love, and so on and so forth. SL weddings are planned, prim babies are ordered, and everything is awesome. Until that moment when they honeymoon period ends. Now this doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone, and not every couple will react the same to it. Some couples will make it over that hurdle successfully where others will crash into it and shatter. 

I keep talking about a breaking point, but I haven’t broken it down for you my way, and in terms of people and relationships in SL... Maybe I should get to that, eh?

Everyone has their own breaking point. For some people, the breaking point comes quick, while others seem to put up with a lot before they hit theirs. Basically a breaking point is the moment when a person decides that enough is enough, and they’re not going to settle anymore. They say “You get what you settle for, and you settle for what you think you’re worth.” I believe that rings very close to the truth. The less you think of yourself, the lower your standards will be and the more likely that you’re going to be unhappy with how the relationship goes.

So, in theory, based on the end of that last paragraph, you’d think that the relationship would end quickly. Quite the opposite is more likely. The more probable scenario is that the person who thinks less of themselves will tolerate a lot more, because they may feel like they can’t do better or perhaps they deserve to be treated this way. This, naturally, isn’t typically true at all. The biggest barrier they have in being truly happy is often themselves. They don’t see beyond their own misery because they have trouble seeing outside of the box they’ve placed themselves in. I’d venture to say that it’s the most common relationship situation in existence, because generally speaking, people are easily manipulated into thinking the worst of themselves.

On the flip side of this, you have those who reach that breaking point quickly. They might be the type to jump in and out of relationships at what seems like a weekly rate. They’re typically never satisfied and commonly unhappy with themselves. It’s the opposite of those with a low opinion of themselves. When it comes to the honeymoon ending, they not only stumble, they trip over their own shoelace and barely avoid an embarrassing faceplant. This type usually thinks themselves superior in some way, whether it’s warranted or not, and perhaps directly related to the SIDWs that I dedicated my previous entry to. The reasons for them dumping the ones left in their wake vary in degree, but are often things that seem menial or trivial to those who don’t mimic the same relationship pattern. Or they’ve possibly decided the grass is greener in someone else’s yard, and they’ve already begun sniffing around and need to clear the way. They make the best examples for “misery loves company” situations because they feel that everyone should share their moment.

Somewhere in between you have a good balance of a healthy self-image and appreciation for what’s acceptable in a relationship and what’s not. This is the least common and most coveted scenario because these are the people who manage to buck against the odds and achieve happiness. They are able to clear the hurdle of the honeymoon period ending and walk away with only minor scrapes and bruising. The ones in this situation have learned to respect one another, as well as appreciate each other, and don’t necessarily feel like they’re hitting that breaking point very often.  In terms of couples in SL, these are the relationships that last longest, and often go RL. Most of us know at least one couple, some of us are fortunate to know several, and the majority of us feel some sense of envy that we haven’t achieved the same. This is what we strive for, what most of us feel is beyond our grasp.

Whatever category the relationship falls into, one must remember that perfection is just a word, and it’s something that needs to be defined by each person for themselves, not just by a dictionary. What keeps people together past the relationship’s expiration date is a fear of being alone and a belief that you need another person to make you feel better about yourself. Reality is, you need to find out how to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with another person; how to love yourself, before you can love another person. A breaking point is when you say “fuck you” to the fear, to the bullshit, to the games, the lies, the tears. Breaking points can be good, not all relationships are meant to be forever, and some should have never been. 

Where’s your breaking point?