Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mistress Strangelove: Chapter 1: A Shopping Addict Is Born

Mistress Strangelove or : How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love My Kinks

The (Mis)Adventures Of A Reluctant Mistress

Chapter 1 : A Shopping Addict Is Born
Chapter 2 : My Inner Bimbo
Chapter 3 : If The Nuns From My Catholic Grade School Only Knew
Chapter 4 : With Bells On
Chapter 5 : Would You Dance With Me?
Chapter 6 : Its Harder Than Walking And Chewing Gum
Chapter 7 : One Woman's Porn Is Another Woman's Research
Chapter 8 : 'With Bells On' In Real Life

I joined Second Life during the great media hype-fest of Autumn 2006. Intrigued by what I read, I signed up for an account, downloaded the client, and logged in for the first time. It was free and all I had to do was provide a credit card number to get L$250 - what a deal! I had lots of cash and was prepared to spend it.

Logging in for the first time, I walked through the basic tutorial but lingered for a long time at the 'customizing your avatar' section. Entranced by the number of options, I proceeded to spend over an hour tweaking my avatar's shape and look - all the while getting more frustrated that I couldn't make it look exactly the way I wanted. I learned a lot about objects, copying, inventory, and finally how to add textures to clothing. One hour into Second Life, I had a blue satin dress and was a budding clothing designer - this place was awesome.

Finally, declaring my look 'good enough', I wandered out into the broader Second Life world and was astonished at the variety of avatars I saw in the first few minutes of standing around with the other newbies. People walked by with flowing hair that actually looked good. Then I saw my first silk. Wow! clothing that moved as you walked. I was itching to find out where to buy these things because I had L$250 and it was burning a hole in my purse. Soon, I too would be dressed to kill, I thought. Anger over the wasted hour of adjusting burned away in my fever to begin shopping. Any notion of sampling the art, culture, and activities of Second Life had to wait until I looked decent, a little shopping and then I could go do 'worthwhile' things.

Discovering search, I began to wander around looking for hair, shoes, and clothes. I reasoned that with L$250 I should be able to get one complete set of everything. The first place I looked was selling hair for L$250 - I was shocked, how could they get away with charging so much money? So, I looked some more and came to the realization that L$250 was chump change. Shopping some more, I found hair and a pair of color change high-heeled shoes that totalled L$250. Now, I was ready to find out how to make money in Second Life. All the news articles I read about Second Life seemed to indicate the streets were paved with gold and the taps were gushing hot and cold running money. In no time I should be raking in piles of cash and be able to shop all I want. Not ready to start my own business yet and believing I needed some seed money, I went to find a job to pave my way to Second Life riches.

"What! you make L$18 per *hour* of dancing?"

"You make *how* much helping others?"

"I won't do that for all the money in Second Life!"

The realization was dawning that you had to be in Second Life for a while to qualify for just about any 'real' job. Even then, they all paid trivial amounts of money. It appeared I would have to work for most of a day just to afford a decent pair of shoes, hair, or set of clothes.

Day one of Second Life ended on a low note for me, but I didn't forget all the fun I had customizing and exploring.

Day two dawned and I was still fascinated by the possibilities of Second Life, but the daunting task of making enough money to really enjoy it was dragging me down. I wandered around despondant until I ended up talking to some people with *real* Second Life experience - they were born over *two months* before me. Then came the moment that forever changed Second Life and my bank account for me...

"You can *buy* Lindens!? I wish they would have told me that before."

"They did, where?"

"Oh, I didn't read that, I was too excited about getting started to read the directions."

Remembering the number I provided to get my first L$250, I realized my credit card was already hooked up as the IV to my Second Life purse. All I had to do was choose "Buy L$..." A brief curse went up to the clever, sneaky bastards at Linden Labs as I had a vision of my future credit card bills laid out before me, but then a rush of crass consumer euphoria swept away all resistance. I voluntarily sacrificed my credit cards to the idol of conspicuous consumption and felt admiration for Linden Lab's well-played business move hooking me into spending money with them. That cleverness deserved a reward I reasoned; I could spend some spare money with them and help them out. I could stop anytime I wanted. Now, I realize the L$250 was exactly analogous to the "first hit is free".

"L$1000 ought to be enough to tide me over until I start making money," I believed. "One or two nice outfits ought to be enough for a few days until I start to make money. With my programming experience and obvious good taste, I should be cranking out products in no time. I can give up Starbucks for tomorrow."

"Okay, one more thousand, Starbucks will have to wait two days."

"Skins cost how much? A decent animation overrider? Fine, *five* thousand more and that's it. That's a lot of money, it ought to be enough. How could I spend that much? I was meaning to give up coffee anyway."

I was hitting the 'pay' button like a crack addicted rat allowed to control its own drug supply.

A few hours later on my second day in Second Life, L$10,000 had flown out of my hands and into the pockets of merchants with pretty clothing, shoes, shapes, skins, hair, animations, and various and sundry things that spoke directly to the shopping addict deep in the core of my soul.

Next Post: Chapter 2: My Inner Bimbo


Wrath said...

Loving the memoirs, T !!

And truer words about those first two days have never been spoken. :-)

Here's how lame I am (err, was) - it probably took me more than a few hours before I realized my avatar DIDN'T quite look as good as the rest of the male avatars, hehe. Ah, those few hours of ignorant bliss... The experience changes dramatically when you realize how cartoonish you look compared to people who have purchased skins and hair and clothes... a sort of Adam & Eve moment, and it's at that point you realize money is going to be involved.

Although you certainly took to task more seriously than I have yet to - spent over L$10,000 by the second day?? Impressive. I figure I have to be close to having spent only L$2,500 at this point, which is three days shy of one month in SL.

"I was hitting the 'pay' button like a crack addicted rat allowed to control its own drug supply."
Funny!!!! :-)

So glad there is a Chapter 2 to look forward to!! Sounds like maybe the 'new you' even impressed yourself. *g*

Tiessa said...

Glad you liked it Wrath, I have the first five/six chapters written, they just need to be edited and revised.

It must be harder to tell as a guy, because the clothing and hair differences don't immediately stand out in stark contrast.

Second Life has been an eye-opening experience in a number of ways. Expect more self-reflection mixed in with the humor and anecdotes. Chapter 2 is, I think, better than Chapter 1 and the self-realization portions started to 'hit me' there.

vint said...

Can't wait to read more! At least you had some decent clothes from the beginnen. I refused to transfer first life money to my second life account. I was so happy if I was tipped, because that made that I could upload 10 more textures. :d

I'm realy looking forward to chaper too. Can't do anything wrong if you do it with some humor! ;)

Zoe Connolly said...

You're a daily read for me, Tiessa.

Thanks for the great posts!

In many ways, we seem to be leading parallel lives.

CB said...

LOL Well your story sounds an awful lot like mine ;) My worst binge was my RaC skin, 5000$ of Xcite gear, first decent outfit, nylons, shoes, and my first flexi hair ;) Spent over 15K my first on my first shopping spree XD

were so baaaad ;)