I was dramatizing my salacious events on SL to friends the other week over dinner. I made out with an international avatar (this user was from Japan), was proposed to and almost locked up in a house. WHAT! Even when it was happening, I couldn’t believe it. But re-telling it…my non SL friends just didn’t get my emotional and physical attachment to my new found fairy winged avatar friend. “It’s not real” they told me. “It’s not tangible.” “Well, what’s real…what’s tangible?” I replied. My friend Kelly motioned to touch something, to feel something. “I control my mouse and thus control my avatar, I decide if I want to move, fly, sit or dance. I decide how quickly I want to initiate conversation with someone, build trust with someone.” That’s tangible. We debated the meaning of the word tangible…here’s the dictionary definition:
“Perceptible by touch. Clear and definite. Anything that can be grasped either with the hand or with the mind is tangible.” Oxford American Dictionary
How can I explain making out with somebody in a virtual world. Did I feel her hug and kiss? Of course not but was I nervous to accept her advances? Hell ya. My stomach tied in a knot, I got all fluttery and at first I rejected her out of fear. But when she took off and left me alone (on some godforsaken island), I actually kind of missed her. She had been so nice, showing me around different islands, teaching me how to land and fly gracefully. She even taught me about SL etiquette and reminded me that I could easily be taken advantage of and locked into rooms or places…I began to trust her. We became friends. And if I wanted to, I totally could have had her baby. She proposed to me and told me she loved me! I was extremely flattered…but slightly taken a back. I have no qualms about commitment but I spent forty minutes with this woman and she proposed to me and asked to have babies with me! Things move quickly in SL. It’s funny how my non-maternal instincts followed me into the virtual realm though…I can suspend a certain amount of disbelief and/or fantasy in this world…I’m pink and have tye-dyed tattoos all over my pixelated body but marriage and babies? No thanks.
When I signed off that night…I was mesmerized by my experience. I had initiated a relationship. We agreed on certain codes of behavior. We built trust. I played coy. She was assertive and strong…leading the way. She felt sad that I didn’t want to get married…I felt a sense of loss when I logged out. I’m nervous to “see” her again and quite possibly will take her off of my friend’s list. But just like my first “real” kiss with Jason Wynn in grade 6…I will never forget my first SL kiss and how it made me feel. Is that tangible? Most definitely.