Compare & Contrast

My school teacher brother had a favorite comprehension question: “Compare and contrast …” Whether it was the tactics used by the North and the South in the US Civil War, the aims of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists in the formation of the early American government, or any other topic, he loved to ask that kind of question. Since he was one of my teachers from sixth grade onward, the frequency of that task makes me automatically think that way about many things.

Napping at the Cool Beans Coffee Shop in Effington Wood (SLurl).

Like Second Life and Real Life.

Not long ago I was stuck in a Real Life (RL) wheelchair for several weeks. I could walk, but the doctor preferred I didn’t (long story). It would strike me as I arrived at several different stores in Second Life (SL) that I’d pause before entering. After a while, it occurred to me that I was subliminally thinking “I can’t get up those steps in a wheel chair … there’s no ramp.” Conversely, I often think “How many prims would that be?” when I look at a nice building in RL.

Probably the biggest comparison and contrast I can make is about speaking. Just last night I was spending quality time at a nice beach with my wife and in the course of our conversation I “whispered” something to her – an emote as much as a decrease in the chat distance – and I had to stop. As you may know, I’m a mute in RL. The sounds I can make are far from whispers let alone any form of regular speech. I was struck by the dynamics. A romantic moment of holding hands in RL would leave me almost completely incommunicado as I’d have to rely on head movements or (if someone was in a position to see them) facial expressions instead of Sign Language.

Imagine if you had to remove a ping pong ball from your mouth every time you wanted to speak and had to put it back when were finished. Sign Language and hand-holding are about the same. Or mittens. Earlier in the evening my avatar was wearing mittens and I removed them to “talk” in main chat without thinking just like I did so often today when I was out with Mom for some appointments.

From cartoonist and advocate for the deaf Matt Daigle (Web).

And there I am napping at Cool Beans in the picture at top. In SL I’ll drink coffee and visit coffee shops. Not in Real Life. In Second Life I’ll tromp about in the snow and even dance. Not in RL. There are so many ways to compare and contrast Real Life and Second Life. What counts, though, is that one can express the full range of self in both worlds, just in different ways. And that brings up “Similarities Within Differences,” another favorite of my brother’s educational techniques, but that’s another blog post.

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