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Gopi Passiflora

Living as a female in Second Life - my experiences

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No, I won't be complaining again in this topic about the many random IMs I get from (mostly male) strangers when playing as a female avatar. Yes, I do get these intimate messages and if they're not put well together, I admit they can be annoying. But this is not what the topic is about.

I just wanted to share my overall experience of playing as a female avatar in Second Life.  Whether they're good or bad is up to you.

I'm a heterosexual guy in "real life", but I do like making "pretty girl" avatars. Yeah, maybe that old school justification of wanting something pleasing to look at applies in this case. But I think that perhaps there's more reasons as to why I like playing as a female avatar - don't know exactly why, though. Maybe this post will help give us insight why.

So I log in to my female avatar's account for a typical Second Life session. After logging in I wait for her to rez in all her glory - blue shorts, white tank top, and all. The most striking thing about her appearance is her very long blonde hair which she's received a lot of compliments for. (I actually love these hair compliments from everyone. Makes my day!)

Once fully rezzed, I figure out what to do in SL today. I muse about going to the Zindra safe hub, "Ungren," but then I decide against it. I have a few reasons for this. One is that Ungren has voice allowed, and I like responding to voice with voice, chat with chat - kinda feels awkward responding to chat with voice and vice-versa. I dunno, I'm weird like that. Obviously, I wouldn't want to voice while using a female avi. Another reason is because Ungren is known for being a trolling ground. No doubt if I head that I may bound for more trouble than I could ask for. And female avatars are more likely to be trolling targets.  So I decide against it.

I think about going to the Mainland Welcome Area, "Ahern". Ahern has no voice enabled, so that's good with me. While it also has it share of trolls, they are not as many as there are in Ungren, nor are they that bad. So Ahern is a possibility for me.

However, I ultimately decide to go to a club to listen to music while socializing with people. Clubs are packed with people and have a DJ and hosts who help facilitate conversation. Also clubs are moderated, so they don't really have any trolls. So I pick the "Blackhearts Rock Cafe" as my destination. It's a regular club I attend. After all, I like rock music.

Before I get there, I feel anxious with all kinds of thoughts. What's going to happen once I get there? How will people react to my avatar? The anxiety may seem like a bad thing but I actually love it for some reason. I get this sort of excitement when heading to a social place as a female avi. It's hard to describe.

So I teleport to the club and walk to the dance floor. All sorts of avis (mostly human, though) populate the club playing dance animations as rock music plays. The host welcomes me in and mentions my avi's name, and I respond. I click an object that causes my avi to dance, and in moments she starts to bust some moves.

I listen to the music and monitor the chat box as I watch the avis dance and the host and DJs pay repetitive gestures. Then I hear the dreaded and familiar "ding ding" of an IM. I look at the name and it is one of a male avatar. I embrace for the worse and I click to reveal what he has to say. It a mere but annoying "Hi"? Or something a bit more forward?

"Hey, your hair is lovely," he says.

I then feel relief and the pleasure. After all, I do like compliments on my avi's hair for some reason. Although, I was still a bit on guard. Still, I decide to happily thank him.

"Hehe...thanks!" I say.

"It's so long. I've never seen hair like that before," he continues.

"I've actually seen longer."

We continue our discussion on my avi's hair, with some humor mixed in. But at the same time, it started to become clear he was also not interested in me romantically. We move on to other topics like about SL in general and I enjoyed having a conversation with him. After a while, it was time for me to leave the place. I thanked him for the company and said bye before teleporting back to my home.

---

Yeah, that's what my typical experience as being a female in Second Life is like. It might seem like a pointless story without a lot of drama but i wanted to express what my experiences were like in some way (albeit poorly). But perhaps you can gain some meaning from my story and tell me why I like playing as a female in Second Life, despite any disadvantages that may come with it?

 

 

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Your nervousness may come from the fact that you're not a woman IRL...I remember getting a bit antsy when I was using a male alt. 

I wonder if many male players on female avs are exploring feelings of autogynephilia (as opposed to being trans women IRL). No idea if this is the case for you or not. I just wonder how common it is.
 

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He probably had a copy of that list "How to spot a RL guy playing a girl in SL in 20 questions" and you answered enough questions "wrong" to make him suspicious.

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Posted (edited)

But you happily visit

6 hours ago, Gopi Passiflora said:

the Zindra safe hub

and

6 hours ago, Gopi Passiflora said:

the Mainland Welcome Area, "Ahern".

apparently on a frequent regular basis. The safe hubs are like the breeding ground in SL for pond scum. If you don't like getting those types of messages then stay away from them permanently. I'm female both RL and SL and I never ever get any messages like that.

I feel like everyone else is getting some serious attention in Second Life and yet the weirdos see me and are like "Guys no....shes weirder than us.....lets leave her alone....we don't mess with her....". 

Sounds like your having fun in SL though! more power to you! ^_^

Edited by chibiusa Ling
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I have the same nervousness on my male alts. They don't go to clubs without me, I would not know how to talk. If it ding dings in an IM when I shop with them, I just reply short. They does the job as contributors to the land group and work splended as models. Always ready when needed.

I log them in as dancing partners when I want to go to a club, but don't want to talk.

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Your experience of being a female avatar in SL isn't much different from that of females being female avatars in SL...the only things I'd suggest are 1) shop more.  You need to branch out from the blue shorts/white top/long blonde hair look.  And, even more importantly, 2) Go to a lot more places.  Ahern, Zindra and similar Infohubs are terrible places.  Clubs can be nice, depending on the club and the clientele, but those, too, are often stereotyped hookup locations.  Visit some parks, beaches, forests, marinas, airports, shopping malls, galleries...

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14 hours ago, Marianne Little said:

I log them in as dancing partners when I want to go to a club, but don't want to talk.

Finally a reason to actually upgrade my male alt to a decent mesh body and clothing.  

I remember from days gone by, when we used to have lots of impromptu social gatherings at the Forum Cartel Hangout, that a guy there would sometimes log in a female alt to dance with while he waited for his partner to come online.  I don't know why I never thought of doing this for myself with my male alt.

 

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25 minutes ago, LittleMe Jewell said:
14 hours ago, Marianne Little said:

I log them in as dancing partners when I want to go to a club, but don't want to talk.

Finally a reason to actually upgrade my male alt to a decent mesh body and clothing.  

I need to try this with me and LoveX still!

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   I've had a few unsolicited approaches whilst on Neph. I don't bring her much to social venues, but there's been the odd guy in a store or event writing a little compliment or trying to pick me up with some third grade level grammar. One decided to open up with 'Hi can I collar u?'. 

   Most of the time I just ignore it. Other times I consider it an opportune moment to instruct some manners. Mr 'can I collar you' got excited when I informed him that if anything, he'd be the one with a collar on. He was less excited when he was stuck on a piece of furniture, and I show up with Orwar to inquire whether he had ever heard of our Lord and savior; Baphomet. 

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I don't think women are alone in getting the weird IMs. I play as a child avatar, more specifically a boy and it's scary the amount of times I've been propositioned for 'adult activities' by men. They get the same response each time. Blocked and AR'ed. 

It's gotten to the point where I have to second guess myself about going to beaches with my SL family, and what kid doesn't enjoy going to the beach? 

 

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On 1/2/2019 at 1:34 AM, Lindal Kidd said:

Your experience of being a female avatar in SL isn't much different from that of females being female avatars in SL...the only things I'd suggest are 1) shop more.  You need to branch out from the blue shorts/white top/long blonde hair look.  And, even more importantly, 2) Go to a lot more places.  Ahern, Zindra and similar Infohubs are terrible places.  Clubs can be nice, depending on the club and the clientele, but those, too, are often stereotyped hookup locations.  Visit some parks, beaches, forests, marinas, airports, shopping malls, galleries...

I personally like the look I described, and I have some other outfits (such as a Christmas sweater), but I took your suggestion and did some more shopping. I found a cute new dress for my avi.

I also visit other places besides the hubs and clubs...sometimes. I guess I should visit them more.

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You asked what made you wish to play a female in SL as a RL male.

I have a little insight into this topic. But what I've found is there are two lines of approach to it. For some, it means that you "must" be a closet gay, unable to face your homosexuality, or a closet transsexual, also unable to face your reality. While that could always be possible, I don't think it's true. There are enormous numbers of males playing females in SL. Most of them do not define as LGBT in RL. There are so many that when voice was introduced, many of the leading designers and public figures went into total spasms, fearing they'd be outed as males. You might say that the m2f playing in SL defines a lot of SL culture. 

Another line of thinking comes from some of the most radical of this cohort who are LGBT in real life. And here you can find very Orthodox and even authoritarian trans rulings from on high that say that anyone who is not seriously pursuing actual sex alteration in RL is a phony or is in what amounts to sexual "blackface" or some other sort of politically-incorrect crime. Naturally, I dismiss this as hogwash -- but it is a troubling symptom of some authoritarian elements of trans culture that insist on "tolerance for me" but "hate on thee" for any variation of the prescribed Orthodoxy. 

There's an interesting subset of this cohort which is gay men, or m2f in RL, who absolutely loathe females appearing as males. Some are in denial that this is a reality. This is the most violent and cruel cohort in my experience. And I can only explain it ultimately as a form of patriarchy and sexism of its own -- that even in *this*, too -- changing genders -- the males wish to reign supreme.

Some preach that gender is a "social construct" and therefore entirely fluid. Five blanks aren't enough on a hospital form to fill out what your gender is -- there might be 72, I hear. Others preach that gender is fixed by God and transgressing against it is a sin if not a crime.

I can only say that in my view, gender is neither of those things. I think people are so untaught about the soul and the spirit in these times that they don't recognize that their souls or spirits may be different than their bodily sex, and their experience in virtuality isn't so much about changing their sex as it is about expressing their soul. They may be either more female or male for all kinds of reasons. If "inherency" were true, you would not have so many males wishing to play females in SL. If "social construct" were true, more people would be "constructed" and conform, but they aren't.

I think people should be free to choose whatever gender they wish to manifest, in SL as in RL. If their relationships move into intimacy, it's the ethical thing to do to explain to a RL or SL partner what their "assigned at birth" gender is.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

If their relationships move into intimacy, it's the ethical thing to do to explain to a RL or SL partner what their "assigned at birth" gender is.

Wonderful post, except that last line. In my opinion, if you were "born" female in SL no further explanation or clarification is needed.

Edited by BilliJo Aldrin
fixed stuff
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As you're an RL hetero male, I'd be interested in your experiences visiting sims/joining groups dedicated to treating women like complete dirt (I'm talking a few levels below standard whips and chains, slave and master BDSM, I'm sure you can think of some examples), or using that RLV setting that lets anyone grab you from anywhere, and seeing what happens and your feelings about it.

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1 hour ago, Prokofy Neva said:

You asked what made you wish to play a female in SL as a RL male.

I have a little insight into this topic. But what I've found is there are two lines of approach to it. For some, it means that you "must" be a closet gay, unable to face your homosexuality, or a closet transsexual, also unable to face your reality. While that could always be possible, I don't think it's true. There are enormous numbers of males playing females in SL. Most of them do not define as LGBT in RL. There are so many that when voice was introduced, many of the leading designers and public figures went into total spasms, fearing they'd be outed as males. You might say that the m2f playing in SL defines a lot of SL culture. 

Another line of thinking comes from some of the most radical of this cohort who are LGBT in real life. And here you can find very Orthodox and even authoritarian trans rulings from on high that say that anyone who is not seriously pursuing actual sex alteration in RL is a phony or is in what amounts to sexual "blackface" or some other sort of politically-incorrect crime. Naturally, I dismiss this as hogwash -- but it is a troubling symptom of some authoritarian elements of trans culture that insist on "tolerance for me" but "hate on thee" for any variation of the prescribed Orthodoxy. 

There's an interesting subset of this cohort which is gay men, or m2f in RL, who absolutely loathe females appearing as males. Some are in denial that this is a reality. This is the most violent and cruel cohort in my experience. And I can only explain it ultimately as a form of patriarchy and sexism of its own -- that even in *this*, too -- changing genders -- the males wish to reign supreme.

Some preach that gender is a "social construct" and therefore entirely fluid. Five blanks aren't enough on a hospital form to fill out what your gender is -- there might be 72, I hear. Others preach that gender is fixed by God and transgressing against it is a sin if not a crime.

I can only say that in my view, gender is neither of those things. I think people are so untaught about the soul and the spirit in these times that they don't recognize that their souls or spirits may be different than their bodily sex, and their experience in virtuality isn't so much about changing their sex as it is about expressing their soul. They may be either more female or male for all kinds of reasons. If "inherency" were true, you would not have so many males wishing to play females in SL. If "social construct" were true, more people would be "constructed" and conform, but they aren't.

I think people should be free to choose whatever gender they wish to manifest, in SL as in RL. If their relationships move into intimacy, it's the ethical thing to do to explain to a RL or SL partner what their "assigned at birth" gender is.

Thanks for your answer! I read it all and I think it makes sense!

31 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

As you're an RL hetero male, I'd be interested in your experiences visiting sims/joining groups dedicated to treating women like complete dirt (I'm talking a few levels below standard whips and chains, slave and master BDSM, I'm sure you can think of some examples), or using that RLV setting that lets anyone grab you from anywhere, and seeing what happens and your feelings about it.

I don't know if I want to visit those sims or join such groups. I don't want to demean my avatar like that. I wouldn't want to use RLV either.

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34 minutes ago, BilliJo Aldrin said:

Wonderful post, except that last line. In my opinion, if you were "born" female in SL no further explanation or clarification is needed.

   I'd say that this depends on the relationship. People are quick to make statements on shoulds and shouldn'ts, but in reality the concept of a relationship isn't a two-dimensional entity in which the parameters are either true or false. 

   A relationship which is SL-only, I'd agree with you - what real life information either party decides to share or not to share, is up to them; the other party can either accept the extent of information received and work with that, or they can tell the other party that they won't take the relationship to an intimate stage unless some RL information - such as gender - is shared. If the two trust each other, then perhaps a mere statement is considered appropriate validation, although it's not uncommon for one to want vocal verification. It's not up to any of us to tell such a couple what they should or shouldn't do, relationships are private affairs after all. 

   On the flip side of the trust required for a simple statement to be enough, we know that catfishing is a thing and that it can occur for a variety of reasons - some of which people will quite readily defend, such as mental disorders or having a sexual or lifestyle disposition which may not always be wholly accepted by many people. Other times it's for more nefarious reasons, such as revenge or economical benefit. That's not to say that one should be drastically distrusting of everyone who doesn't voice verify within 30 seconds of conversation; after all, at least my empirical conclusion of interacting with people online for two decades, is that it's a very small minority who will try to fool you.

   However, in the end it's up to each and everyone to decide how they want to interact with others in SL. If you want to go to clubs to pick up strangers for one night stands, then perhaps it's best not to worry any further than what's on the screen. 

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5 minutes ago, Gopi Passiflora said:

I don't know if I want to visit those sims or join such groups. 

I don't blame you in the slightest.
 

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1 hour ago, Orwar said:

   I'd say that this depends on the relationship. People are quick to make statements on shoulds and shouldn'ts, but in reality the concept of a relationship isn't a two-dimensional entity in which the parameters are either true or false. 

   A relationship which is SL-only, I'd agree with you - what real life information either party decides to share or not to share, is up to them; the other party can either accept the extent of information received and work with that, or they can tell the other party that they won't take the relationship to an intimate stage unless some RL information - such as gender - is shared. If the two trust each other, then perhaps a mere statement is considered appropriate validation, although it's not uncommon for one to want vocal verification. It's not up to any of us to tell such a couple what they should or shouldn't do, relationships are private affairs after all. 

   On the flip side of the trust required for a simple statement to be enough, we know that catfishing is a thing and that it can occur for a variety of reasons - some of which people will quite readily defend, such as mental disorders or having a sexual or lifestyle disposition which may not always be wholly accepted by many people. Other times it's for more nefarious reasons, such as revenge or economical benefit. That's not to say that one should be drastically distrusting of everyone who doesn't voice verify within 30 seconds of conversation; after all, at least my empirical conclusion of interacting with people online for two decades, is that it's a very small minority who will try to fool you.

   However, in the end it's up to each and everyone to decide how they want to interact with others in SL. If you want to go to clubs to pick up strangers for one night stands, then perhaps it's best not to worry any further than what's on the screen. 

Obviously if there is a chance that a relationship could go to RL then complete honesty is necessary, but when one makes it clear right from the start that whatever relationship develops will forever remain strictly in SL, then it should be WYSIWYG.

I've been with my rl partner a long long time, in fact we met online,. I have no interest in that ending that for someone new. But if i did, I certainly wouldn't be using SL as a dating site.

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3 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

I have a little insight into this topic....

(1) ... And here you can find very Orthodox and even authoritarian trans rulings from on high that say that anyone who is not seriously pursuing actual sex alteration in RL is a phony or is in what amounts to sexual "blackface" or some other sort of politically-incorrect crime. ..

(2) ...There's an interesting subset of this cohort which is gay men, or m2f in RL, who absolutely loathe females appearing as males. ...

(3) ...I can only say that in my view, gender is neither of those things. I think people are so untaught about the soul and the spirit in these times that they don't recognize that their souls or spirits may be different than their bodily sex, and their experience in virtuality isn't so much about changing their sex as it is about expressing their soul. They may be either more female or male for all kinds of reasons. If "inherency" were true, you would not have so many males wishing to play females in SL. If "social construct" were true, more people would be "constructed" and conform, but they aren't.

(4) ...If their relationships move into intimacy, it's the ethical thing to do to explain to a RL or SL partner what their "assigned at birth" gender is.

Very thoughtful post, Prokofy. I've numbered some points to address them individually. I also ought to add that my cousin is FTM (female to male trans) and completed transition many years ago, which is where my own insight comes from.

(1) I think this used to be the case much more than it is now. When my cousin began investigating into transition in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a lot of pressure for him to look a certain way, dress a certain way, be into certain kinds of relationships. And a trans person who didn't meet those requirements would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to access any kind of medical transition; hormones or surgery. There was no such thing as "non-binary" back then. Well actually there probably was, even before it was named as such, but being non-binary would have been an instant and automatic "NO" and anyone who didn't want to pursue the entirety of transition through to the bitter end would be called "not trans enough".  That's much less the case now, and lots of people have chosen not to pursue medical transition, or pursue only some of it, without it invalidating their trans status.

(2) As a gay man myself, I know that there is some resistance to including trans men in the gay male community, though as treatment options for trans men improve and trans men become more public, this resistance is reducing.  Most of this resistance is down to the sad fact that many gay men are basically "size queens" and a trans man who doesn't have the necessary physical parts at the desired dimensions is going to be of no interest to those gay men.  Pre-transition trans men are generally of no interest whatsoever to gay men. It's only after hormones and surgery, when they start to look physically masculine, that gay men start to get interested. Can't comment on MTFs though, I have no relevant contact or experience with them. 

(3) Completely agree. If gender was nothing but a social construct, then there would be no need for anyone to transition physically or medically at all. All it would take would be a change of name, clothes and hairstyle.  The very fact that hormone treatment works, in terms of measurable changes in the mental functionality of those who use it, is proof that gender is more than just social. Trans people are people who, at the most basic level, are running on the wrong hormones. A trans man has a male brain but his body is flooded with estrogen, which causes conflict. Vice-versa for trans women.  Reverse the hormones, and brain function measurably improves. 

(4) This part, I don't agree with, if the relationship is SL-only. The only reasons why a person might need to know that their partner is trans is if they are transphobic/homophobic, or if they are being untruthful about wanting a SL-only relationship. A trans man is a man; he thinks like a man, he speaks like a man, he acts like a man. My cousin was never a girl, even as a child, decades before he started transition. His medical history is relevant only if he is involved in a RL relationship in which a person will be seeing or interacting with his genitals. 

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Posted (edited)

It only goes wonky when the person playing cross gender doesn't identify with that gender and treats SL as an RL dating opportunity, seeks out a gay/lesbian SL relationship and hopes the other person is actually straight and will be entirely accepting of the big reveal.

Bait and switch is not a solid basis for any relationship.

Although hilarity does ensue when two 5000% straight guys both play lesbians figuring they are the only one .. especially when at least one of them has created their very own 'verified female' group.

I hate to sound sexist, but I've yet to meet a single person who identified as female off screen playing as a SL guy to date gay guys in the hope they are secretly into RL girls.

 

Edited by CoffeeDujour
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1 minute ago, Matty Luminos said:

A trans man has a male brain but his body is flooded with estrogen, which causes conflict. Vice-versa for trans women.  Reverse the hormones, and brain function measurably improves. 

 

Yep, using blockers and hormones. I’m a big Trans ally.

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Posted (edited)

This has been a really interesting and quite wonderful thread: a lot that is really valuable has been said here!

I did want to add a couple of notes -- speaking, it's important to establish, as a cis gendered heterosexual ally of the trans community.

One thing that's important to recognize is that trans identities are still very much contested spaces, both within that community, and in terms of their relationship with the larger LGBTQ community. Many trans activists and advocates have invested a fair amount in binary notions of gender, and this has led to some pretty hotly debated issues with those within the trans community who see gender as fluid and non-binary. There are also some battles being fought between gender essentialists and those who see gender as culturally constructed. (I agree with Prok that it's most likely a mix of factors.) So, discussions of trans identities are a bit more complicated, perhaps, than has been laid out here.

Within the context of Second Life, there are some additional interesting things happening. For obvious reasons, SL has made it possible for trans men and women to express their true gender in ways that are not always available to them in RL. But that representation can take some really interesting forms. One would expect, for instance, that a trans woman would simply represent as a woman in SL. But some years ago, I knew someone who was making for sale shapes that reflected the "classic" look of a post-surgical trans woman. In other words, there was/is a market for shapes for people who want to represent not in a straight-forward fashion as women, but as trans women, understood as a distinct identity.

In terms of using representation as a means of gaining insight into "what it's like" to be a man or a woman . . . well, there are some obvious limitations to that. I think it very likely that a RL man representing as a woman in SL can gain some useful notion about elements of what it is to be a woman in our culture(s), but ultimately, and at least in part because SL is a distinct culture, with its own unique attitudes towards gender, what you can mainly learn is what it is like to a virtual woman in Second Life. I think that's an important distinction to maintain.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, I want to address the OP @Gopi Passiflora directly. I have no idea why it is that you find representing as a woman so appealing, and I don't think anyone else here can really give you a definitive answer about that either. That's something that you may or may not find important to figure out for yourself, after (probably) a good deal of introspection.

What is very very cool and important, though, is that representing as a woman has given you a completely new and different perspective on your experiences, on other people, and maybe finally on yourself. You've made the familiar seem "strange" and different, and you're experiencing stuff that you maybe didn't even notice before in new and exciting ways. And that's a really marvelous thing. It may, in fact, be the greatest gift that SL has to offer all of us: the ability to see ourselves, and the world around, through new eyes. Enjoy it.

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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