Stealing Dreams

by Alphaville Herald on 16/04/05 at 8:16 pm

Perhaps best known as author of the ‘Newbie 2 Newbie’ column, Rose Karuna has returned in print for the first time since writing for the now-defunct SecondLIFE Magazine. It is worth noting that even back in her SL Magazine days, Rose was already flirting with the questionable journalism practices that have made the Herald famous, giving a hacksaw to a handcuffed fugitive in exchange for an interview. Today she sets aside her SL work as care-taker for Karuna Nursery & Campground (Furu (132, 53)), and her RL work on her new house, to try and solve a mystery; the mystery behind Rose’s obsession with Second Life.

I’ll admit it. I’m a member of the fetid old persons club – FOP (not to be mistaken for the FIC – Feted Inner Core).

As a member of the fetid old persons club I can still recall when a “fast meal” was a foil TV dinner that took forty five minutes to cook.

When FOPs were growing up, there were no cell phones that allowed our parents to instantaneously track our whereabouts. We had party lines and our phone rang at best once a month and when it did, it was a very big deal, even if the call was for our neighbor.

When someone said “Hello” to us in the grocery store we’d always answer back with a polite smile, because before cell phones sprang into existence, people really were speaking to us and not to a silver box, completely oblivious of those standing around them.

A visit to the mail box was exciting not aggravating. Letters from friends and catalogs took awhile to reach you, so they were appreciated. Saving money and sending away for Sea Monkeys never caused a bombardment of enough junk mail to choke a chipping machine.

Your waiting for it aren’t you? The old line that bemoans how I used to walk twenty miles to school through blizzards, well I didn’t. I only walked about four blocks and school was closed when we had that much snow.

During blizzards, my parents had to perform like circus monkeys to entertain my brothers and I, because outside of getting up in the morning and going to school, showing up for dinner and going to bed, we had little else to do except an occasional homework assignment.

There were no organized dance classes, band or soccer schedules to meet and it never occurred to my parents to feel guilty because they might not be putting enough effort into assuring that we all became musical or mathematical geniuses. In retrospect, living conditions that would be considered primitive now, were in fact, a gift. They were the gift of unproductive time. Time used to explore, to read and best of all, to dream.

More than thirty years have passed since then and now I own a microwave, a cell phone, a computer, and many other fancy gadgets that were once touted as miracle inventions destined to “save time” and keep us free from drudgery. The problem with them is that microwaved dinners taste like cardboard; the cell phone is such a pest that I lie and say the battery is dead so people don’t call me on it and I spend so much time in email sorting legitimate correspondence from ads for penis enlargement that I’ve lost all joy in reading it.

I’ve become focused on the management of life and work, tweaking time into efficient segments. Any time remaining to simply dream was surrendered years ago in favor of a good book or a mind numbing television show. Day dreaming about the impossible is a distant memory filed at the back of my mind with Koolaid popsicles and jars of fireflies.

I’ve heard people claim that Second Life is addictive. After having spent more than one entire weekend without sleep because I was either in world or in Photoshop, obsession is a distinct possibility. I stopped reading and I stopped watching television. What is it about Second Life that holds me hostage to my computer for 24 straight hours? Why am I compelled to haunt the Second Life forums during my breaks at work?

It wasn’t until a real life “intervention” recently that I realized what Second Life actually offered me. Hubby, tired of eating cardboard and convinced that Phillip was an evil scientist using Second Life to create drooling zombies, unplugged my computer from the hub. Forced from my somnambulistic state, I noted our wrenched living conditions; stacked microwave meal cartons, dust bunnies littering the floor and two opossums that broke through the cat door and were running amuck about the house, nasty little creatures.

So for the last couple of months I’ve been cleaning, organizing, painting and remodeling. Standing on a ladder, paint brush in hand, I thought about how nice it would be to just upload and apply a texture instead of messing with a brush and roller. While holding up large panels of sheet rock until my arms ached while hubby screwed them onto the framing, I noted that the entire room really could have been done with just two prims.

One day, I was working on our real life dock when I came face to face with a five foot iguana. Apparently he’d been living in our Ficus tree and hit our dock for a bit of sun. Seeing him was positively surreal. Is this Second Life or is this some psychotic break from real life? That’s when it hit me. No not the iguana, the reason for my obsession with Second Life.

Second Life is the place that I come to dream. Learning how to build and script lulled me into the erroneous sense that I was doing something useful with my time. So like a thief in the night, I stole little bits of time from various other aspects of my life to spend in Second Life, psychologically that was acceptable, because I was doing something useful, damn it.

In an increasingly challenging world, time is a precious commodity and the only way to meet its demand is to accept progressively more responsibility. It’s difficult to justify carving time out for unfettered dreaming about the impossible, but that is what I do in Second Life.

With so much focus on haste, efficiency and goals, dreaming is often viewed as frivolous. Sometimes it’s easier to allow HBO and Warner Brothers to define our fantasies than it is to have our own. Dreaming for ourselves though, I think that’s the difference between thinking in black and white and thinking in color. One is stark and focused and the other is vivid and complex. We need both. I never realized how long I had ignored the need to dream until I started to again in Second Life. I wasn’t aware that’s what I was obsessed with until it reduced me to a bad housekeeper and a drooling zombie in dire need of some shuteye.

“Seeing him [a five foot iguana] was positively surreal. Is this Second Life or is this some psychotic break from real life?”

These terrifying Florida ‘Yard Dogs’ (alligators) patrol the Karuna property

Karuna Nursery & Campground (Furu (132, 53)).

Rose’s prim-heavy current RL build

3 Responses to “Stealing Dreams”

  1. Cocoanut

    Apr 17th, 2005

    Tell me about it! Ever since the Sims Online I’ve wanted to be able to texture my walls and floors easily.

    In fact, I invented a way this could be done. (Whenever I use the term “invented,” I mean “thought up vaguely” so that I get credit for first thinking of it, which credit I consider myself to have, for instance, for inventing the first remote virtual full-body sex suit people could use for safe, yet touchy-feely, sex online, some fifteen years ago.)

    Here’s how the walls could be textured: Each wall of a room would be fitted with something similar to giant flat-screen TVs. Only hopefully simpler. And not with that tv-glow appearance, but something more real. The screen would display textures of your choice. You could program each wall separately. Or you could elect just to do one wall of each room and save money.

    Imagine the possibilities! A giant aquarium wall. Or an outer space scene. Plus thousands of regular wallpaper and paint patterns. etc. etc. etc. And you could change them as often as you wanted!

    Or maybe just have one such room, to use as a relaxation/retreat/fantasy room.

    I haven’t quite figure out how the floors could be changed.


  2. Philip Linden

    Apr 17th, 2005

    Love it!

  3. Clark Ambassador

    Apr 18th, 2005

    Coco, have you heard of Micropaper? This sort of stuff isn’t too far off. Check it out:

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