On vulnerability

Whims showed me this inspiring ted talk:

I tried to put vulnerability in the context of SL.

I think that in SL we have the possibility to either enhance or tone down our vulnerable sides in the virtual world. We can choose to build up a picture of ourselves as the perfect Barbie or Ken. We can play with status and success. We can create an avatar of perfect beauty, we can build up a picture of luxury and wealth fairly easy. SL can be a place where we compensate for a life we are not satisfied with. If we are socially shy we can try out another persona that is more forward and outgoing. If we are unemployed we can role-play that we have a fabulous business going on. We can of course also present ourselves in the profile text as the person we would like to be.

BUT there are also possibilities for strong connections. True, deep connections. We can dare more. We can open up to strangers, telling things about our deepest selves that no one even in our RL knows about.

How do you use your SL in the context of vulnerability as is discussed in the clip above? Is SL a place were you open up to people and show your true self or is it a dream world where you can be that perfect self you try so hard to be in your RL, but constantly fail to pull off?

I am reading Brené Browns book “Daring greatly” now. It gives me lot to think about. One interesting thought is how we live in a culture of scarcity. Scarcity meaning there is never enough. We are not thin enough, brave enough, clever enough, beautiful enough etc. The author talks about how difficult it is to have a good life when so many of us wake up in the morning thinking “oh I didn’t have enough sleep and now I haven’t enough time to do this or that”.

One can think about in the context of SL too. There is always a risk that SL becomes so addictive and alluring in terms or perfection that we compare our real lives with it and diminish our real selves even more. SL is very seductive in that way. Sometimes I need to remind myself about those shitty days in SL when I am standing at my home and feel like speaking to none of my friends. Or none of my friends that I want to speak to are online! SL can be inclusive and a feast, but it can also awake strong feelings of disconnection and loneliness depending on situation.

I’d love to hear what you have to say in the matter!


10 thoughts on “On vulnerability

  1. Hey Feebs!!! 😀

    GREAT VIDEO!! I LOVE this woman!!
    I once used a quote of hers on my dating site profile, as it resonates so much with me and my often vulnerable state of mind brought about by bipolar.
    I’ll quote it for you and other readers:

    “We can spend our entire lives in scarcity . . . just waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment.
    When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if I want to know joy. I’m not sure that it will ever be easy for me, but I have learned to trust this practice. For that, I give thanks!”

    Thanks for sharing this amazing woman’s experience and wisdom Feebs!

    And yes, I agree that vulnerability can be even more intense online, especially on a site like SecondLife where there are such blurred lines between reality and fantasy. Used wisely, it can be a wonderful, creative place to explore. But for those of us who are vulnerable to manipulation by those with less than noble intentions, it can be a cess-pit of hurt and disillusion.

    I’m a natural-born brain-picker 🙂 I love nothing more than to dig beneath the surface of the human psych and discover what makes people tick. Everyone has a story, and some of them are totally fascinating and engrossing. But I sometimes do this at the risk of my own mental health, and I’m careful now to check my own state of mind before delving into someone else’s.

    Sometimes knowing TOO much about a person, or giving away too much about ourselves, can perpetuate that very vulnerability that Brene speaks about. It can become a slippery slope of addiction or infatuation … OR the beginning of a beautiful and enduring friendship.

    I’ve begun to use SL, in part, like therapy for my RL. …. a place where I can practice assertiveness skills, social interaction and protecting my heart and mind from getting too deeply caught up in the fantasy and the addictive lure that SL can become … … whilst, as you said, exploring and reaping the wonderful benefits of making connections with people from all over the world.

    I’m hoping to study psychology or social work this year, to gain a deeper understanding of my own disorder and the related issues, and also to become knowledgeable enough to be able to offer good advice to others who are struggling.

    Really LOVE what you’ve written Feebs, and would be happy to chat about this topic with you or anyone else anytime you’re in the mood.
    Keep up the great work!! 😀


    PS.. Another EXCELLENT book I’ve been studying with a friend is “The Alchemy of Happiness” by Hazrat Khan. It presents many logical, common-sense methods to reap happiness from our daily lives by acknowledging what we HAVE instead of what we THINK WE NEED. Highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their perspective on life. I’ve had quite a few personal epiphanies that I know will lead to progress in my own life, simply by exchanging many of the negative thoughts and patterns in my life with “choosing vulnerability and practicing gratitude.”

    When you think about it… EVERY one of us has a hell of a lot to be thankful for 🙂


    • Thank you for your rich and interesting comment BB!
      YES! You are very right in that we need to give more thoughts to how many things in life we can be grateful for! We also have to think about how many people in our culture that literary feed on our feelings of scarcity! We live in an era of consuming and that is naturally nourished if we are constantly thinking we need MORE of everything. I am very happy to have you as a friend in my life and I look forward to more discussions about this and about anything! Hugs!


  2. Lovely, Fiona, and again an interesting topic.

    I guess part of the online world attraction, whether it’s SL or any other place people meet and befriend, is that you can on one side be as anonymous as you like and on the other be as vulnerable and open as you would like to be in RL but are afraid to do so. In the virtual world things are intense and awesome, because the reality of things is left out of the equation. No money issues, no need to fight over things such as cleaning, groceries, kids etc. Not noticing bad habits until it’s too late, hahah. It’s addictive, intense and immersive.

    Some people treat the online world as a place to play games, one way or another. For others it’s their entire social life. And this group is the most vulnerable, especially when they meet people from the first. I used to be so wary of alts and people playing games, wanting to guard both my online integrity as well as my RL.
    But I’m a blabbermouth, I tend to tell everything anyway, just can’t help it. Maybe one day it’ll bite me and I meet the wrong person. So far, I’ve been lucky. And sharing my inner thoughts, dilemmas and views on all kinds of things, ranging from what size we are to politics to sexual inhibitions to coping with cancer, has enriched my life, in both worlds and I’ve grown as a person because of it. I think it’s safe to say that without being vulnerable and showing it, there’s no growth. HUGS!!!


    • Thank you for your sweet comment CK!
      Yes, I agree on what you say about how sometimes we clash because we come to SL with so different expectations, but on the other hand it is through these clashes that we also can learn so many interesting things that we maybe wouldn’t have experienced in RL. I am happy that your openness and free speak has been received in good ways like you describe! You are so worth it beautiful friend! Hugs!


  3. Do you go to SL to get something of value?
    Do you go to SL to escape from something unpleasant?
    I use SL both ways. When I’m feeling strong I’m more willing to take risks, more willing to expose myself to possible unpleasantness. When I’m most unhappy, I embrace the fantasy element in SL and hide in it. That’s what I love about SL: It’s huge, it’s not one thing or another. It’s a place to connect or to disconnect, it’s real and it’s very not real. I have real friends in SL with whom I’ve celebrated and wept and I have an Alt who wanders freely unrecognized, experimenting, exploring, creating, evolving…


    • Thank you for your comment Marie!
      Yes, of course we don’t have to use SL only ONE way. There are so many things to explore, find out about yourself and others!! Alts that are used in wise and respectful ways can enlighten us about new things and I use them exactly like you! I guess it’s a way to let yourself get free from the social obligations that we together with other people here put on ourselves, just like we do in RL. Alts can do things that the main avatar simply can’t or dares:) Hugs!


  4. So SL is 20% drama and 90% line dancing – I *love* that 🙂 Elaborating on that … “SL is…”:

    I think you’re onto something. SL is *all* about vulnerability.

    SL is discovering that even looking like a gorgeous 19-year-old, and with all the experience of a 53 year old, I am *still* the same fearful, needy, clumsy, bounded personality – it’s not my body shape or my grey hair, it’s *me*.

    SL is discovering that if i could only be invulnerable, if I could overcome my fears – of violence, of commitment, of what people will think, I could expose sides of my personality I never realised I had. And maybe not like them at all.

    SL is discovering that I can be a person that someone beautiful desires, perhaps even loves. While knowing I am truly not that person. And nor are they.

    We are not human beings having a spiritual experience – we are spiritual beings, having a human experience. SL about indulging in that idea.

    Thank you, Fiona, for such a thought-provoking post – so much to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SL is only “all about vulnerability” in the sense that everyone using SL exists in RL and in RL everyone is vulnerable whether or not s/he recognizes that fact. (Vulnerable after all only means susceptible to harm, and who isn’t?) SL itself caters more to those of us who wish to have a greater degree of control over the nature and depth of our interactions with those troublesome creatures, our fellow human beings… If one wishes really to indulge one’s vulnerability one needs only shut down one’s computer and deal with whatever comes next… Loneliness, rejection, self-abuse all are available to any of us any time of day. SL has no specific message- but on a scale of one to ten, reality to fantasy, it’s down there around the middle.


  6. Hi Marie – you are right of *course* that true vulnerability is an RL thing. I didn’t mean so say that SL is about being vulnerable. I meant to say that when we play in SL we play with invulnerability – we play in the safety of invulnerability, and we play around with our feelings of vulnerability. I think what I really mean to say though is that we can still find things that hurt us. On a good day, we can also learn about them, and overcome them sometimes.


    • Yes, so true, Dorian! SL is a great way to “play with” all kinds of important things, try out different approaches to them, talk to people (who I find to be very forthcoming in SL) and learn things to take back to our “out-world” lives… It’s MUCH harder to be playful in RL, where circumstances and people’s expectations tie us so much more tightly to our personae… (Thank you so much for this forum, Fi!)

      Liked by 1 person

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