Saving Time in a Virtual Bottle

by Alphaville Herald on 09/10/09 at 7:46 am

How is your time in Second Life best spent?

by FoxM Ember

What is time?  “Time,” measured in minutes and hours, days and weeks – even here in SL.  Is it simply an awareness of events and occurrences sorted in our minds in such a way, as to allow us to perceive them in an ordered, rationale way?  Without it, the flood of simultaneous information would be unmanageable and overwhelming for the construct of consciousness – ours anyway.  Where did time come from, and why is it here?

If time an infinite reality, always having been, always still to be, then it disqualifies the theory of the Big Bang; which necessitates a beginning to our universe, and to our reality; the start of time.  Who wound the clock?  

Conversely, if the universe always was, and always will be – infinite in existence as well as breadth – then why is everything winding down, decaying…burning out?  When did the “dying” begin?  A star burns itself out; and from its “burn rate” we can trace back its existence to its beginning.  We can see water poured out of a pitcher, and by observing the volume and speed of the water as it falls away, we can discern the time at which the water began to pour – we can measure back to its beginning.  So if the universe – and by extension time – always was, who started the countdown clock, and why?

Is there a difference between real and virtual time?  Have you ever said to yourself, “Wow, time is flying by.”  What does that mean to you?  Did your perception of the pace of events and occurrences change, was it altered by something?  Why do some days seem to drag on forever, and yet years seem to fly by at breakneck speed?  The passage of time – of water flowing out of the pitcher – should be constant, but it seems to ebb and flow.  

Some might argue that regardless of our perception, time is in fact passing at a constant unflinching steady pace.  I admit having difficulty wrapping my mind around the concept of time, much less being able to accept with any degree of certainty that its passage is constant.  My own perception of time’s passage seems to vary based on what is happening at that moment; and often, when I compare my perception its pace with family or friends, but for the clock on the wall, our perceptions of the pace of reality can be markedly different. “Reading this damn column is taking forever!”  “It’s only been 3 minutes.”

For example, when I “play” in SL, hours seem to compress into minutes.  I can find myself spending an entire afternoon exploring, meeting people, building, etc. in the Land of Lindens.  When I am on vacation, days fly by at speeds I cannot explain; but for the days immediately preceding my escape from the shackles of Blackberries and Franklin Planners, I can swear that I hear the ticking of my office wall clock slow to a virtual snail’s pace.  Hours seem to tangibly melt into an unreal slow motion reality when I am waiting for the doctor to call with the test results.  But an adagio day at my favorite beach; with each beautifully relaxing note seeming to waft through the measures of time, suddenly ends – de capo el fine, sans D.C.

The most wonderful, important and cherished moments of my life seem to be the ones that are blurred by the rapid passage of relentless time: the birth of my children and their infancy; my wedding day; that incredible family vacation we took 5 years ago that we all still talk about.  All of these events, now a fading memory, like the lingering optic shadow of a shooting star just witnessed, and now gone.

How then shall we think about time?  How shall we treat it and the ways in which we pass it; with ambivalence or profound respect?  How then shall we spend our time here in the real and virtual world?  

A philosopher by the name of Jim Croce once wrote:  

“If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day 'til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you.
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then
Again I would spend them with you.
But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go thru time with.”

How then shall we spend our time here?  Think about it, before your time is up.

16 Responses to “Saving Time in a Virtual Bottle”

  1. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Oct 9th, 2009

    Short version:

    I’m a fucking loser wasting my life.

  2. Foxm Ember

    Oct 9th, 2009

    Thank you for your witty and insightful comment. I look forward with great anticipation to future comments displaying your obviously vast intellect and profound thoughtfulness.

  3. Trudy Takacs

    Oct 9th, 2009

    Yes! Time in Second Life is time to enjoy because the time waiting for doctors comes soon enough. Lesson here is no drama in Second Life. Enjoy and loose yourself to Second Life fun and friends!

  4. icallbullshit

    Oct 9th, 2009

    WHAT HE SAID ^ ^ ^ ^

    (speaking on behalf of the tens of thousands of waste-oids that log on for hours each and every day. hours upon hours. melting into days, weeks and years)

  5. Pappy Enoch

    Oct 9th, 2009

    “Time in a Bottle”????

    Bottles am for city-folks. Now here am how to spend time:

    1) Drink….jug am empty…new jug.

    2) Repeat…time sure do stand still.

    It are a case of relativerty, as that Al Eisenstein feller done said right after he made the moving-picture show Battleship Potemkin and won that-there Noble Prize.

  6. Rawst Berry

    Oct 9th, 2009

    @Alyx and icallbullshit

    “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”
    -John Lennon

    I don’t understand people like you at all. For one thing, you sure do care a lot about what OTHER people choose to do with their life. For another, you thrive on making nasty comments to strangers. What beautiful people you must be. :/

  7. Cai Pirinha

    Oct 9th, 2009

    How is your time in Second Life best spent?


  8. corona anatine

    Oct 10th, 2009

    if masturbation is the best use of your time in SL that you can think of then yes your best times in sL will be spent masturbating

  9. A guy

    Oct 11th, 2009

    The author is still talking about time as though it is tangible, when time doesn’t even exist. It isn’t just some thing that extends into the future, but rather a measurement of cause and effect. In it’s most common form, it is the measurement of the movement of planetary bodies. The need to measure such things stems only from having a partial and subjective interpretation of reality, which really seems to be the very essence of existence. Our ability to see only a tiny frame of existence, and our flawed interpretation of what exists outside of that frame, is the reason time ‘exists’. It’s an illusion. Surely you see that from the perspective of the universe as a whole, no such nonsense would be necessary? To be aware of the universe in it’s entirety would mean there would be no cause and effect, or change, hence, no need to measure such things.

    To answer your question: Man wound up the clock, and invented the concept of change. A moment in time is like a single frame in a huge roll of film. The universe is the entire roll of film. Nothing changes in the whole, but to a person observing a single frame at a time, each frame appears to change into the next. This is time. There is no real change though.

  10. ichabod Antfarm

    Oct 11th, 2009

    Dude, Parmenides, ‘A guy’, or whatever your name is, it’s good to hear from you after all these years. What’s it been, like, 2500?

  11. tru baxton

    Oct 12th, 2009

    Time is definitely subjective, or at least our perception of it is. How many times have you heard the sayings, “Time flies when you’re having fun”, or “There’s not enough hours in the day”? And when you’re watching the clock at work….
    As always Fox, another good read :)

  12. Fychan McAlpine

    Oct 12th, 2009

    Time is – just one effing thing after another, to misquote the History Boys. I refer you to the theory of my great-uncle, Charles Fychan McAlpine, whose idea it was that – when dark matter has produced an equilibrium in a Universe no longer expanding – there will be a choice whether to go on into a grey and frozen future or to turn back the clock and head back to the Big Crunch. His theory was that it was the descendants of Life on this planet who would make that choice. He wrote a lot of other guff about Mind, which apparently explains why God can be everywhere at once. He died in 1968 in Tahiti, after a life of debauchery. I expect he’s looking forward to doing it all again, backwards.

  13. A guy

    Oct 12th, 2009


    Believe it or not, there are those who can intuitively grasp philosophy. I had no prior knowledge of Parmenides before the subsequent google search that followed your comment. With the right information, one can pose the right questions. With the mindset that the truth is it’s own reward (absence of bias), the same conclusions can be drawn.

    The absence of time and space is something that modern physicists are struggling with right now. It’s literally at the cutting edge of modern physics. Very interesting to note how modern science is still reconciling with ancient philosophy. Ironic when you consider our technological capabilities. If anything, I’d say that technology has actually slowed down our progress and made us stupid.

    Why is it so difficult for people to imagine a world that perhaps does not work the way we think it should? The illusion of time has proven time and again, that tradition is not always correct. It most certainly is not ‘progressive’ or ‘innovative’. The opposite really. A civilization bound by tradition will slowly feed on itself as it starves and dies.

    Ichabod, studying philosophy and truly understanding it are clearly two different things. Anyone can read the words of a scholar in a textbook. But I wouldn’t expect much more than that from someone who seems to share ignorant and destructive views on subjects such as that of a particularly stigmatizing disease. Anyone capable of thinking for themselves, logically, and without bias, would have been forced to arrive at other conclusions. If philosophy is critical thinking, then I have absolutely no idea what it is you’re doing over there.

  14. ichabod Antfarm

    Oct 16th, 2009

    ‘But I wouldn’t expect much more than that from someone who seems to share ignorant and destructive views on subjects such as that of a particularly stigmatizing disease.”

    For fuck’s sake, I thought we had already dealt with that. I apologized. It was heartfelt!

  15. A guy

    Oct 16th, 2009


    I’m talking about your comments on Prokofy’s blog. I don’t think that people who were offended by her were out of line, but you spoke out against them:

    Your lack of action combined with your criticism of people who were insulted implies that you share her sentiments. I was actually a little disappointed. You struck me as a thinker, a genuine intellectual. I expected better from you. I don’t see how you could have stood by and said nothing. How anyone with time enough to comment about anything could have possibly focussed on anything but that wretched cesspool of hate that looms over the comment section. I really was shocked. It was terrible, even for her.

  16. Miso Susanowa

    Oct 22nd, 2009

    “The only reason for Time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

    - Albert Einstein
    Quoted by Dr. Buckaroo Banzai

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