I'll save you all the extended AC/DC lyrics quotes :P
Despite the bizarre rumor going around that I'm leaving SL, I'm back, and back big. I spent more time inworld last week, outside of work, than I did in April, May and June combined, I think. I've got a new house, new furniture, new projects, and a renewed commitment to my community, and most importantly, to my loves.
There has been a malaise going around: I've written about it, Hamlet Au's picked up on it, and Kit Meredith has been exploring it, among many others. Lanna Beresford speculates that it's related to SL's transition from frontier to settlement; I think she's on to something.
My effective departure - months where I only came in to run events - was equal parts hardware woes that made for a miserable experience with the current client (draw distance down to my elbows, no ability to cam or take photos in a crowd) and a life that had become a bitterly ironic parody of the shortcomings of atomic-world life that gave rise to the market for a second life.
My family and I were all busy with work, and on schedules that didn't allow for much overlap. I kept adding projects: more events and bigger events, with more attendant publicity work, until I was trying to do a 40-50 hour a week job in 20 hours (while OP was putting in 60-90 a week: not fun times). I went months without going anywhere but my house and the Central Nexus, where I held events.
One of my breaking points came after a conversation with my friend Rissa Maidstone, one of SL's best businesswomen. She was very complimentary of the work that the Extropia team does, and suggested in very strong terms that we should turn pro, and bill ourselves at atomic-world corporate rates. That triggered a month or so of increasing angst, as my desire to do a better job, my vanity and my workaholism led me down a path towards going pro. The more I thought I should turn pro, the more I avoided SL, and the more time I spent in WoW killing things :P
OP and I started having serious issues over our careers as well: as the saying goes, a second life doesn't come with a second 24 hours. OP's been working very hard, and building a career, but I had attractive opportunities as well. Where should the energy go? Our progress was taking us along paths that were beginning to cross, and that seemed like a very bad idea for both of us.
So, after OP met some deadlines, and I finished off the last of a string of big events, we vanished for two weeks to sort things. We haven't figured everything out yet, but when we went back to first principles, a lot became readily clear.
Family First. Which is just a subset of "people first." I just finished reading Catherine Asaro's terrific novel Alpha, in which an Air Force general has to choose between his growing love for a gynoid and his duty to the state. It's an absolutely fantastic book if you're a fan of artificial people. But, while I recognized that the general's internal conflict was deftly handled, I really couldn't relate. One of my core principles is, loyalty to persons, deep suspicion of the claims to loyalty by groups or ideologies.
Going pro would mean accepting the norms of the atomic business world, which are deeply hostile to digital people. I firmly believe that accepting those norms would betray my self in the most fundamental way, and betray the values and trust of my family, who share with me norms of digital identity and personhood that are quite contrary to business expectations.
Joy First. Much of atomic-world culture is based on the notion that suffering is good and necessary, that life properly consists of doing something pointless and/or wretched for most of one's life in order to have a few hours of pleasure every week. This is a stupid and evil notion. It seems deeply embedded within many of us, to the extent that OP's copy of that bit of malware crossed the personality border and was running full-time on *my* system.
So, I looked at the things that I was doing, where I was spending my time, and sorted things into "actually essential but unpleasant," "talked myself into thinking this was essential but unpleasant," "unpleasant timewaster," "irrelevant but fun" and "fun and useful." On close examination, a lot of the marketing/advertising work I was doing was taking up a huge amount of time but generating no quantifiable return. My smallest time category was "fun and useful," which seemed unbelievably perverse.
So, here's what I've done:
- Cut Twitter, Ning groups, Facebook games.
- Cut back on my time in WoW, though it's still important to me, for social fun and tension release (not that I'm having that much tension lately!).
- Put the Saturday Salon on hiatus for July, at least. People love having the regular weekly event, but it takes about 10 hours a week, or half the time I get.
- Cut plans for two more major academic/professional conferences this fall. There's little good reason for doing those unless I go pro and charge for organizing them. The return for Extropia is negligible, and they take an enormous amount of work.
- Expanded our author events. We've got one to announce today over on Events in Extropia, and a couple in the pipeline. They're fun, and they do bring people to Extropia who're likely to come back for other events, for the atmosphere, and to move in.
- Expanded my support for other creative social events. We've got a bunch of stuff coming up soon.
- Changed my job title from "Director, Marketing & External Relations" to "Director, Events & Marketing." My focus will be on improving and expanding Extropia, not on building my network in the atomic business community.
- Bought a new house (The "Connell House" from Nebula of Extropia) and re-decorated top to bottom. Before Extropia my houses were really filled with my presence, my aesthetic. Here, I've been in a series of tossed-up boxes with my old furniture dropped in them. They've gone almost entirely un-lived-in. In a week, New Sophtopia has boomed with life and energy - more on that in a later post!
- Started a new personal project, something I've wanted to do from my earliest newbie days. More on that later too.
- Most of all, re-centered in my family. We've become a fairly effective work team and Board; we're becoming real lovers again.
The moral of the story? The more I embrace my second life, my Digital identity and values, the happier I am. The more I'm drawn into the event horizon of atomic conformity, the more miserable - and the more absent - I become.
Back in black, I hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back
Yes I'm let loose from the noose,
That's kept me hangin' about
I been livin like a star 'cause it's gettin' me high,
Forget the hearse, 'cause I never die
I got nine lives, cat's eyes
abusing every one of them and running wild
'Cause I'm back! Yes, I'm back!
Well, I'm back! Yes, I'm back!
Well, I'm baaack, baaack...
Well, I'm back in black,
Yes, I'm back in black!