by Alphaville Herald on 05/10/07 at 6:44 am
Too much of a good thing?
by Lacie Babenco
About 4 weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that I needed to take a break from my time in Second Life. Why? Simply put, I was feeling my RL was run down in general and realized I needed to refocus and re-prioritize how I did things to regain my energy.
So, I did what I thought was right by telling as many of my SL friends that I was taking a break for a few weeks. A night of goodbye hugs and well wishes exchanged, made me feel sad actually but I got a glimpse that I was not alone, many told me they had seen others struggle to find balance just like I was. Some emails and a simple notecard to all those I didn’t see covered my bases with most of the rest. Most were supportive, hoping something bad hadn’t happened in SL but, as I told everyone, I was feeling pretty crispy in RL and needed some time away.
My first reality check was when I took stock in all the things that I was doing connected with SL, and found a mountain! It was deep enough that I decided to list all the things I had associated with SL. From emails to blogs to SL Exchange and some of the news sites (sorry SL Herald!), I had 12 links in all that I was a “regular” visitor of. The ease of plugging in really can be overwhelming.. I Googled “Second Life Blogs” and got nearly 245 Million results! I know it’s skewed by a general term like “blog” but still, anything with Second Life is heavy with results.
On the flip side, I made a list of all the things that might be suffering due to my time spent in SL. Sleep was number one on that list, followed by my suffering workout routine. Keeping up with my friends around the globe makes staying up late tempting but the price is damn steep! I’m a night owl typically and logging on in the evening and found it hard to log off in the name of a good nights sleep. The first night away I slept like a baby and was able to get out of bed and rediscover the workout routine I had shelved because of my previous fatigue. The snooze button on my clock has now become a stranger to me.
Staying “out” of Second Life proved much harder than I had thought but the benefits in RL came fast once I did. Immediately, I felt better physically with working out. The regular pattern of checking all the bookmarks was tough to cut off. Each day, I basically checked fewer and fewer sites by burying a few each day. My substitute for these links was to resurrect the old, non-Second Life links I had pushed down on my list. The SL links went quiet over time.
At work, I’d still check my emails with my in-world friends a few times a day but I vowed, no other sites while at work!
One temptation I fell victim to was the “work-at-home-but-play-SL-during-the-day” syndrome. So many of us have the ability to work from home these days now, I have stopped this practice totally. If I’m at home, and I decide to log in, I’m officially “taking the day off”. This limits the temptation for me to really abuse a freedom that my job in RL affords me.
My free time focused on physical well being, family, friends, hobbies and my career. Everything benefited from it and my energy level shot back up quickly. The plan to return came to me rather quickly at this point; I would log on only when everything else in RL was settled for the day. Second Life would be just that – second to my real life. Charlie Brown sigh, seems so obvious doesn’t it?
So after 2 weeks, I fully ventured back in. The welcome from my friends was positive but with a few twists. Plenty of very happy “welcome backs!” and “missed u” comments felt great. But, there were a few smart-ass ones mixed in “you were gone?” and “back already?” Ah, my friends.
The most interesting part of taking the “break” is that I have a bunch of friends, and even a few friends of friends, ask me what it was like to be away, how I coped and that they felt they might be addicted to SL. It’s almost like there is a natural progression for many people in-world to struggle with balancing RL and SL. Everyone wanted to know if I had advice on how to do it with success. I wish I had some sort of winning program, a “Stop the Insanity” for SL “addiction” but, I don’t.
If you feel like you’re spending too much time in SL, maybe what I suggested could help? I found that making a list of all the SL related activities I was doing really opened my eyes to how deep into it all I was, for better or worse. With a pretty full RL to keep me grounded, I was able to quickly get back to what I had “pre-SL” but I was no “Cold Turkey” success story. Now, when I come back in-world, it’s at times I schedule. My friends have been very supportive of the fact that I may not be on each and every day. As for late nights, well, I can do one from time to time but it’s also part of a schedule. Last thing I need is my face imprinted with a keyboard pattern from passing out at the ‘puter.
So to all those who asked, that’s what I did. No magical program, no 12 steps, if anything, rediscover the foundation you have in RL and back out with baby steps and then decide when and how you want to return. Common sense rules the day, sometimes even in SL.