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Remember being in high school and wishing that you could look like the prom queen or be good enough to be the starting quarterback? Perhaps you have always been dissatisfied with something about your looks, your relationships or a lack of ability in something you have dreamed about mastering. Don't waste a minute more on regret or sadness. You can now have a "second life" that you get to design and create according to your unmet longings and deepest desires.
"Second Life" is a virtual world that allows you to build an online presence (avatar), create a network of virtual friendships and relationships, purchase (virtual) land (with real money), design and create products with online tools to sell for (real) money, and add to or establish your own online community. The desire for a second life is apparently very prevalent- as the more than one million members (and growing rapidly) can attest to.
Throughout history, people have sought respite from the stresses and problems of their everyday lives. Some of the healthy "escapes" we all know are movies, television, books and vacations to faraway destinations, and they are often recommended as a way to get needed rest and relaxation. In extreme cases, individuals use alcohol and other drugs, engage in destructive and/or dangerous sexual activity, or employ other "unhealthy" behaviors as a distraction from their pain. Now we have a technology that can lead to an alter ego addiction as it seduces the user into a mouse driven world where time, real money and energy is spent on creating a fantasy life. Sounds a little (lot) like science fiction, doesn't it?
Instead of asking, "Where do I sign up;" perhaps we should instead be looking for ways to empower ourselves to pursue our dreams with realistic goal setting followed by conscious effort and healthy, informed choices. After all, reality awaits, no matter how hard we work to avoid it.
Imagine for a minute that you have decided on two or three major goals for your life that you would like to accomplish within the next four to five years. As a way to begin addressing them, you have come up with short-term objectives that will move you forward with concrete and measurable steps. You have created a plan to build these into your day-to-day life and have been working on the first two for a number of months now and yesterday you achieved the first one. It feels great, and wasn't nearly as difficult as you thought it would be. You are psyched, have learned something important about yourself and feel more confident and able to take some calculated and important risks. You are also beginning to believe that your dream is possible.
Now imagine that you have been a registered user of Second Life for the past few months. You have created your avatar, bought (virtual) land with real money, have made a number of cyber acquaintances and spend a lot of your free time online. It has been fun pretending, but you just got the news that your close friend is engaged and you heard that another friend bought a house. You would love to have the money and energy to work on relationship and financial goals to, but- you just don't have the resources now?
Really comes down to choice, doesn't it? If you want something badly enough and are willing to take the necessary risks and delay gratification as you stick to your (at times difficult) goals- you can change your reality. So be careful of spending too much time on Park Place, Baltic Avenue or Marvin Gardens or you may end up not passing Go, collecting your 200 dollars or spending time in a "jail" of your own making.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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