Vanity – An ingredient in SL’s secret sauce

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?

There is the story of a queen who was very vain and asked her magic mirror this question
frequently. The mirror always answered it was the queen who was the fairest, till one day it said
that Snow White is fairer… and that led to a whole lot of things going wrong for Snow White.

Fast forward to June 23, 2003, and instead of talking mirrors, we now had something better –
Second Life. A place where you could be anyone you wanted. Your physique could be chiseled
to perfection even if you never lifted a finger to work out in real life. Your skin could be as
smooth as marble even if in real life, you needed a generous dose of foundation and make up, and
you could do gravity-defying dance moves even if you had two left feet in real life. Literally, you could
swim, fly, own a horse, a top end car, a boat, an island! You could even be someone else at the
click of a button, because sometimes you get tired of looking great all the time.

I had a fair hunch of what to expect in SL, but even as I scratched the surface, I realized there
was yet much more to discover and learn. What I mentioned in the previous paragraph, these
are all those things I experienced first-hand once I landed in this magical world. After I got
myself a face that my mirror adored and gave it a Greek God bod to match, I clicked on
Appearance (a man’s got to dress well too, you see) and was pretty much in awe! OK, I knew it
was different from what I look like in real life, but vanity is such a powerful drug, it was easy to
believe the name and look I now had. I just had to log in.

Things got better as I made friends – friends who showed me a place where I could roam the
skies on flying horses, who gave me a boat to drive (even though I totaled it on our maiden
voyage), a key to their home, an expensive car. All for keeps, or to be used at will. I just had to
say the word.

If movies allow you watch magic happen, here you can take control of how your own movie
rolls. The way SL has unraveled has been fascinating, to say the least. In its world of make
believe, you can choose to be who you want and do exactly what you want. I am a curious but
cautious fellow, hence, while I spend quite some time getting to know this place and living in my
world of make-believe, eventually, I do log off. Then it is the man behind the keyboard who
once again deals with real life problems in real time. Yet, SL gives me the escape we all need to
momentarily create a world where we can play God, well almost.

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