They Walk

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I've met many people in Second Life, some from far, distant places and some terrifyingly close to home. There are those who speak other languages and those who just don't know how to dress properly. Some are new, some are old. Many are astonishingly nice, and a scant few are raving lunatics. But they are all, every single one of them, real people underneath those pixels. And we must never forget that.

I like to observe people in an attempt to understand them. If I can understand someone better, I can become a better friend, a more effective worker or a more caring partner. Mostly people seem to act like they would in real life, or as they wish they could be via role-playing. Their actions are often predictable, or at least understandable in the same sense as you might expect a real life person to act if you know them somewhat well and understand the context they work within. You might understand if your friend jumped off a virtual building for the thrill of it, but you would not expect them to do things totally out of their normal character.

But once in a while there is an aberration. Something out of the ordinary. Actions out of context. People doing things that don't quite make sense, based on my understanding of their personality.

I observed a friend playing in Second Life. Moving around. Running around. Jumping. And jumping again. And again. Sure, it's fun to do that, but not over and over and over and again. I wondered a long time about that. About why they would do act that way.

And then I learned the terrible truth.

In real life my friend is disabled. In a wheelchair.

And that is why they moved around so much. Doing what many do in Second Life: Being and enjoying what they cannot do in real life. And being treated as an equal, on par with anyone else in the world.

Later, I learned another friend was also disabled. And another.

Many are here.

Now, when I see people doing things “too much” I stop to watch. I don't comment or criticize their actions. Instead I think about them. And smile, for they are free of reality for a time.

Some may say their life is tragic. Perhaps so, perhaps not. To me the real tragedy is elsewhere. The true tragedy is the disabled millions who do not or cannot transform themselves with virtual reality to briefly experience things that cannot be. They may not even realize the virtual possibilities they have lost, and I weep for them.

And what of the disabled among us?

Shed no tears for them, because

They Walk.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a disabled child and I long for the day to introduce him to the vitual world to be set free from the RL constraints he faces everyday. I do not feel sorry for him. I am excited for him. Thanks for a beautiful blog! Sincerely, Malachite Bing.

Ivy Lane said...

You made me cry with this one! keep up the great work. Kisses and hugs

Ivy

chug said...

Armi,
This is an extraordinary piece. Beautifully written. It does bring a tear to ones eye, but, a tear of joy. For this virtual world let's you see the beautiful mind, and forget about the physical body. Thanks for the great writing.
chugabug Goodnight

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