Thursday, 24 June 2010

STFU matter which avatar I am using, I seem to end up dancing in a club at some point as I love music. Something I find really annoying is the use of Voice by anyone other than the DJ. It just seems so rude to talk over the set that someone has put time and effort in to creating. It wouldn't be so bad if the conversation revolved around more than what people had for dinner, how drunk they were, what they watched on the TV or who they slept with the night before. It is especially irritating when you can hear the TV playing in the background...or even worse, the radio... Sometimes it seems as though people who talk forget that those of us who don't, may actually still be able to hear...there is nothing so unwelcoming as someone on voice bitching about other people there...especially when it is the club staff doing the bitching. I have even heard a DJ discussing the real life relationship between two other DJs...I guess Disclosure doesn't count when there is no record. Another note to DJs on Voice, if you sound bored by the music, imagine how the audience feels.

Of course there is another scourge of the SL club scene...gestures. Fine, they can be funny or slot nicely in to the conversation, but when they fill up half the screen or drown out the music, they annoy the crap out of me. My eyesight isn't so good, so I have text size set to maximum; it doesn't take much to blot out my screen. If you need to tell the person you are with that you love them every two minutes, you need to review the stability of your relationship. And if your loved one means so much to you, perhaps you can find something more inventive than a gesture on repeat.

On the subject of gestures, if you work in a club and can't actually engage in a conversation or do a decent emote, but can push an F key to play a different gesture every five minutes, don't expect a tip from me!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Suicide is painless

So...there is a very famous song that was the theme to the movie and TV show M*A*S*H, "Suicide is painless". Of course, suicide is not painless...not for the person who does it, not for the person who survives it nor those around that person. Even an unsuccessful attempt affects more than the person who attempts it - like cracks slowly spreading out across a pane of glass. The effects are visible; almost audible, like a silent scream piercing the fabric of life.

Suicide throws up many questions..."how must they have felt?", "why didn't I see?", "why didn't they come to me for help?", "how could they do this to me?", etc. I have seen suicide from both sides of the mirror. My first experience of suicide was aged 11, when someone at my school took his own life. I am now 40 years old, but that moment when I heard of his death is crystal clear inside my head...I can even tell you which day of the week it was and the time of day.

I have suffered from emotional turmoil since I was at least 17 years old; I have 15 years of therapy (off and on) and two breakdowns under my belt. The closest I ever came to ending my life was a few days before Christmas in 1991. I climbed in to the bath and felt the chill of the cold blade of the knife against my wrist. Not the best Christmas present to give your family. The dark thoughts have persisted throughout my life. Driving a lonely road, I have considered pressing the accelerator and closing my eyes. When prescribed pills, I have considered taking them all at once - odd that you have thoughts of suicide so your doctor gives you the means to do it. The thoughts of cutting haunt my mind. I don't give in to those thoughts...though I do embrace them and let them play out in my mind sometimes.

So what is the thing that stops me? Hope. The hope that things will change. The hope that life will improve - and it does from time to time. The hope for a life unfulfilled to reach it's potential. I have so much left to give - love, passion, vitality, creativity, joy, friendship, companionship...the list goes on, and so do I. Not everyone is so lucky.

This may be a strange admission though - I would not give the darkness up; it is a part of who I am. Until you have experienced the level of despair that causes suicide and the relief of thinking "this is the last day I have with this pain", you cannot fully appreciate what the all-consuming darkness and despair are like.

There are resources in-world that deal with suicide. One of the places I sometimes go and sit quietly is The Survivors of Suicide Project. It is a humbling experience to see the candles that have been lit there and to read the messages for lost lovers, parents, children, friends. There is an art exhibit if you travel through the mirror. A sign by the mirror warns that the exhibits may be 'disturbing'. Good...suicide should be disturbing and uncomfortable and distressing. The works are emotive; they speak of isolation, loneliness, rejection, regret, pain, suffering. They are bold and bloody and fragile and introverted.

A final thought from me on this topic, at least for now anyway. It is hard to tell what is going on in someone's head, to spot the turmoil and anguish they are experiencing. Even harder to see that when all you have to go on is their avatar. Consider your thoughts and actions in-world, they may have a deeper effect than you realise.

Sia - Breathe Me

Sunday, 20 June 2010


So I thought I would enliven my blog with a here is me celebrating moving in to my new beach plot in Serena Estates. In case you haven't guessed, it was a very quiet celebration!

In real life, and I suppose in Second Life, I am very fond of trees and woodland areas. I seem to end up living on beach themed sims in SL. There is something special about having my own little 'island'. Although the neighbours are only a hundred metres away, I suppose it appeals to me because I have always been something of a loner.

Anyway, that's enough of my mental ramblings for one post.

First Contact's a strange fact about me. It is very rare for me to IM people on my Contact List. Sure, people will IM me, give me notecards, send TP requests, etc., but it is not very often that I will initiate contact (and even more unlikely that I would have sent you the friend request that got us connected).

It isn't because I am busy or expect people to beg audience with me; I am shy, introverted, lack self confidence and self worth. I always feel like I am intruding on people or think they will be too busy or having too much fun to want to hear from me. Oddly enough, I am exactly the same in real life...I never phone, I never text, I never email unless the person has contacted me first.

Certainly everyone in my real life knows that if you want me, I am always there and usually more than happy to help. I am the person who can be relied upon if you need a ride somewhere, if you need curtains making, if you need help decorating, if you need shopping done or kids picked up, etc. I hope my friends in SL know the same - I love to help if it is at all within my power.

I guess another aspect of this is my almost total inability to ask for help no matter how much I am struggling with something. If I come to you for anything, even advice, it means I am feeling pretty desperate about whatever the issue is.

The moral of this tale is...if you want me, find me...I will only be too happy to hear from you.

Happy Father's Day? is Father's Day. In my late twenties I first felt the longing for children; now having reached the age of forty, I realise I am never going to be in a position where I will be a father. My home environment, relationship background and financial status are all against me. But such is life; we all have dreams, hopes and aspirations that will never be fulfilled.

SL has given me an extended family - a husband, parents-in-law (for a time anyway), brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great grandchildren. These relationship are virtual, but that does not negate the impact or significance of them. They involve real feelings and real emotions. Sometimes things are trivial, sometimes things can affect us deeply.

Something that has always annoyed me about a virtual family is the issue of money - rather like a real family... You are quietly blundering about in your second life in blissful ignorance of everything and then it starts - the IMs and the TP requests. I soon came to realise that my family did not always have my best interests at heart when they IMd me to join them or TPd me to a party. They didn't do it because they thought I might enjoy it or because I might need the company. They did it because they were DJing, hosting or dancing. Of course, the ulterior motive in getting your 'parent' to a party is the same as getting anyone else there - tips - but the hope is that your father will be even more generous because of the relationship you have. A further moment of insanity is when they are taking part in a photo contest. You go along like a dutiful parent and horror of horrors...their photo is supremely second rate compared to some of the others, but you are duty bound to vote for your 'offspring'. "So tell me about this contest?" you say. "Well it is 20Ls per vote and you get three votes a day. It runs for a month and the winner gets 1000Ls", is the response from the hopeful 'child'. "Hmmm 1000Ls does sound appealing, however I am paying almost twice that in votes... How about I just pay you 1000Ls and you leave me alone for a month?"

In real life you cannot always exert control over people, even your own children; they find a way of getting in to stupid or dangerous situations. The same is true in Second Life, except you have even less control. You can't actually ground a child because it is their SL too and they will just TP away from you. So your SL child who is a kid avatar does something they shouldn't with someone who is not a child avatar (i.e. a pervert) or they introduce you to a potential spouse who in real life you would cross the street to avoid...though at least in SL you can Eject and Ban with a couple of clicks. What can you do? Everyone has the right to make their own choices since they are paying their internet bill each month. You just sit back and wait for the fallout.

Being a real person at the keyboard, you still get to feel sadness about 'family' things in SL You go through their troubles because they come to you as a friend and surrogate parent - health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, attempted suicide, vehicle accidents, spousal abuse, sexual assault, etc. If you are close enough to them, you can live their lives with them via the virtual world. Nothing prepares you for hearing someone on voice in fear of a husband returning home or the sound of a physical fight resulting from too much alcohol. On top of that, there is bereavement...when you get that message in-world to tell you that one of your family has passed away in real life. Still, knowing that has happened is easier than never knowing why someone never logs in again.

The negative times are balanced (I hope) by the positive. The connections you make with people can be as rich and profound as anything in real life. The pride in walking your virtual daughter down the aisle, the joy at a new 'child' coming to the family, the excitement hearing someone on voice showing you their latest home or 'opening' their rez day presnts, the laughter as you all goof around and try to out do each other with your stupidity and silly outfits - and ultimately do things to each other that would be considering griefing in any other situation!

Rather like real life relationships, the feelings and emotions should be cherished. Taking place in a virtual world makes them no less real, no less relevant. Each experience can enrich your life and help you develop as a person if you allow it to. Be it real life or Second Life, live it.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Alternate realities

In real life I have had several roles -son, manager, student, brother, lecturer, employee, nephew, uncle, counsellor, lover, dominant, submissive, cousin, partner, grandson... In Second Life the range of possibilities is even greater - even down to being able to change gender and species.

One of the easiest ways to experience a full range of possibilities is by using an alt account. Yes, I know people frown upon alts and there is always someone there to say "well I have only ever had this account" and "I hate alts". In my opinion it depends what you use them for. I have had several alts over my time in SL. I don't use them to trick to people; I don't use them to create drama; I don't use them for malicious purposes.

Some people know me as one person, others know me as someone else...there are quite a few people who know a couple of me, and they know it is me. One of the main things I use alts is for is to role play. I can be a man or a woman, a master or a slave. I have been all of those. Before anyone starts jumping up and down, I don't get in to serious relationships with people and I certainly don't do it in a female avatar.

I read something on a forum once where straight guys in Gor insisted on photos and voice chat before they took a woman 'to their furs' so they were sure they were getting a real woman. That's is all very well but photos can be fakes and voice changers, such as that built in to the new viewer, can make you seem totally different. To be honest, I could pass as a woman on voice without the need for such tricks. I go to Gor for role play not for pixelated porn. Sex is quite an integral part of the Gorean lifestyle and I know for a fact that some of the male avatars I have been with have women behind them. Does it honestly matter? If you think that a pixel poking is going to 'queer you up', you have deeper issues and should address your concerns about your own sexuality before continuing.

There is more to being an alt; I love the anonymity. I have a large SL family, I have friends both in and out of role play situations. Sometimes it is great to slip in to another avatar and just go exploring, visit a club I would not usually go to and have some time to myself with TP requests and IMs hitting me every few minutes.

So from my perspective, there is nothing wrong with being an long as you don't mess with people's emotions or use your altness to manipulate people or events.

To be or not to be...honest

So...once upon a time in real life, I had a job with a woman who was on a florist course at college. She had brought her latest creation to work and placed it prominently on the reception desk. She came in to the office and told me all about it and then asked me to go have a look. I said I would go when I had time. After a couple of hours of her asking me every few minutes if I had been to look at it, I finally gave in and went to view the spectacle. It was indeed a very well thought out and executed piece.

I went back to the office and told her my thoughts on her efforts. She beamed and then told me that it was important to her to get my opinion...for two reasons. Firstly because I had lectured in a number of creative avenues at college and secondly because "I know you would tell me the truth even if it hurt".

Some people call that 'being a bitch', I call it 'being honest'. Sometimes I can sugar coat the pill to make it more palatable, but I strongly believe in learning and development for everyone no matter their age, background, etc. so I give my opinions honestly and expect others to do the same. There is no malice intended; all my criticism is meant to be constructive not destructive.

And the reason for this post and this little tale of truth? It is here to act as a warning - if you don't want the answer, don't ask the question! This is your only warning!

Bracken Blurt #1

So...who is Nidge Bracken?

  • Partner of Revan Contepomi
  • Former owner of two small clubs with Revan - Skullz4Life and Boogie Knights
  • Former host, dancer and event planner
  • Husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin, grandfather, great grandfather
  • Male, female, merman, demon, vampire, fae, wiccan, meerkat, robot
  • Creator - buildings, clothes, jewellery
  • Renter/owner
  • Role player
  • Party goer
  • Compulsive shopper
  • Friend and confidante
So...who is Nidge Bracken? Who cares?! Stop reading this now; there are better things to do!

Pteridium aquilinum posting. I guess I should begin with an explanation for the uninitiated. The name of my blog is Pteridium aquilinum, which for those of you who don't know is the Latin name for a fern...the Bracken fern. Hope that clears up the need for any explanations.