BY WRITER LACEWING MESMERISER
If Second Life echoes real life, then it follows that we will encounter both life and death here. I don’t mean the deletion of an account, I mean the real life death of the account-holder and its impact on this place.
I had the sad news recently of the death of a friend on here. As the news broke her friends met in mutual support, hugged, took kind care of each other, passed information on, those of us more able to contacting others, chatted, and just as in real life spent some time in silence staring at our feet.
Silence can speak too.
The rituals around bereavement are there to help us express our feelings and move forward through our grief. Soon someone asked about a memorial, another offered to arrange it, pictures were requested and offered. In one of those detached moments you get sometimes while in the midst of something I thought, here we are each bringing our skills to this occasion, in a world which is purely built by people bringing skills together.
Like most of us, my time on here is fitted round my real life. consequently I find time commitments here difficult, but was determined to be here for her memorial–so Second Life must enter real life, and time negotiations must be made.
I had a fleeting recollection of how all this sounds to a non-Second-Lifer having once mistakenly talked about attending an online party and seen people’s faces. What we do here makes sense to those who do it but can sound totally loopy to those who don’t.
I have had a previous experience of an online death. Several years back before I joined this place I was part of an active online forum. Over a few years a group of us got to know each other very well. There was an elderly lady as part of this group, the kind I aspire to grow into, never shy of a new challenge. When she announced in her 80s that she was going to give facebook a try, some half her age who had been reticent said “well if x can do it, so can I”.
Over time her once-prolific posts slowed, and eventually a status on facebook stated she had gone into hospital. She died soon after.
There was a less than pleasant conclusion to this tale but that is not my point here. the discussion that followed on the forum along the lines of “Who would know?” and “How?” is pertinent to here. I think there were a lot of notes being left with trusted friends after that.
While meeting with my friends on here on the night we got the news, another friend came online. I explained why I couldn’t chat and he immediately said “Well, at least you got to know”.
I think I’d want my friends to know too.