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Wondering: does “RL come first” in all circumstances?

Not for the first time I question the oft-quoted expression, “RL comes first!” Personally I think it is about the message and not the medium.

Second Life afterall is a medium, just as the web, television, telephone and the written word are media for human thought and expression. The quality, urgency and relevance of the “message” is the determiner of whether a phone message or an email gets one’s attention first, so too with competing time demands in RL and SL. If SL has the more important content for me at a particular time, it definitely can (and I think should) take precedence over something less important in RL, or that can be re-scheduled in RL.

There are wonderful things in the meatspace that we call RL and there are also boring and trivial things. There are wonderful and important things in SL and there are also silly and trivial things. When something important is happening in SL, it definitely takes precedence over more trivial RL commitments for me. I do reorganize my RL to assure I can keep SL commitments. On the other hand my RL job and family are at the top of my list. Without the context of home and work, there could be no SL in my life afterall. One needs money to buy a computer and an internet service afterall. SL, to me is a volunteer commitment and I treat it very like any other voluntary obligation. I wouldn’t skip work to go to a community ensemble rehearsal in RL, or a community Board Meeting but I do try not to schedule things that conflict with my voluntary commitments, and I’d understand that I’d get turfed out of the group if I missed too many meetings, rehearsals, events. Saying, “I’m just too busy to fulfill my commitments” does not make a good impression anywhere.

I take my SL friendships and obligations as seriously as my RL ones and I am a bit tired of those who do not. I am reflecting on this right now because a musician/composer who reserved a place on the Music Island schedule weeks ago cancelled within a few days of his concert citing “busyness”, when I sent him a reminder message. And the same person has done this before. Am I wrong in thinking that this is just not acceptable? We all over-commit at times. As this is a young man at the start of a professional career, I hope that he learns soon that a reputation for reliability is a costly thing to lose.

Generally the musicians and other artists I have worked with in SL view their time/date commitments as seriously as those they make in RL. Sickness and technical difficulties may wipe out a scheduled concert but I have had musicians drive 100 miles to borrow a friend’s internet connection and otherwise move mountains to keep a scheduled concert date. And I have taken a laptop to conferences and family gatherings in order to keep my side of the event up and running. . . which is probably why I am so irked when anyone treats an SL commitment as somehow much less important.


  • Brad Reason / Doubledown Tandino
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 1:02 am

    In "all" circumstances? Nope, not for me.

    My real life comes first about 30% of the time.

    Emergencies in RL are obviously top priority.
    But lets say there were an SL emergency, and in real life I planned to go to the movies…. I'd stay in SL because that would come first.
    In fact, if I could see a movie in SL vs see a movie in RL, I'd probably choose SL as first choice.

  • Otenth Paderborn
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Thanks Kate, great post!

  • Chrissie
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I think this is symptomatic of the way people see SL as not real. They just see the rather stylised pictures on a computer screen and think that insulates them from the fact that there are real people there with real feelings and expecting them to fulfil real obligations.

    A gig is a gig, wherever it's held. But then, as I'm sure you know more than most, there are some people out there who will cancel even a RL gig for a better paying one at almost no notice. I think they deserve the same contempt for doing so in SL as they would get in RL.

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