In 2010 or so, Tom Hale, then known as T Linden, infamously declared that there was no “Second Life Culture.”
Digging into what he said however, is a lot of truth. He wasn’t really saying there was one monolithic culture in Second Life, and really I don’t think many would disagree. We are a collection of cultures.
And no, that is not a jape about bacteria.
A culture is defined as the beliefs, customs, arts, and so on from a particular society, group, place, or time. It’s a pretty broad thing. It would only make sense that there would be a great many here, just as first life contains many great and varied cultures.
In Bay City, here, we definitely have a shared culture. A sense of place and community that does include its own customs, its own rituals, its own institutions. These differs from any other community in Second Life, mainland or estate. We meet at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays to race, for example, we quote from “Hot Fuzz” during meetings, and we all come together right here at the Pen for this very event.
In the child avatar community — where I could further argue there is more than one culture just within that subgroup — we have specific social mores. Adults use voice, kids type. Gestures are a huge part of that world, including name gestures. We have had annual camps, regular schools, and other things specif to the community.
I’m also part of the SL Aviation community, and it too has its own rituals. There’ are rules and guidelines about each airport, there’s expectations and rules of engagement. And yes, there’s plenty of in-jokes and beliefs.
These are just three, but SL is full of plenty more. Some break down over real-world cultural lines, as Brazilians and others in SL have their own establishes cultures. Others are avatar based, as furries and tinies, while others are more specialized like, say, steampunks. Even around some of the major shopping events, like The Arcade, there is a strong culture around the event, the items, and even the mascot of the Arcade.
Each of these cultures can make up a person in here, and how they identity. You may carry those are important parts of your inworld presence, such as the aforementioned steampunk who may present in Victorian garb, or specific attachments that fit within a specific affinity group here.
And yes, perhaps unlike Tom Hale, I think there may well be some overarching cultural beliefs and rituals that apply to Second Life no matter what you belong to. We all partake in the birthday event, while oldbies will recount tales of “missing images” and boots in uncomfortable places. It may not be the strongest-help culture in Second Life, but I think there is such a thing to be had.
So what communities are you a part of? How do those shape you and what you do in Second Life?
(by Marianne McCann. Presented at Espresso Yourself, 1st March, 2016.)