There are a lot of items on my Sunday list of subjects I said I would write about soon. But none seems as important right now as what I wrote about yesterday — my quest to employ Second Life as a testing ground to create a working model of Intentional Community. This is one of the things I want to leave for future generations to consider as they rebuild society after civilization’s collapse. It’s also something we need desperately in the Real World today — a better way to live and make a living than the dysfunctional systems that we struggle with today.
What is strange to me is that I no longer feel inclined to create an Intentional Community in Real Life. I’m trying to figure out why, since I’m not by nature an escapist, nor am I generally much enamoured of technology. Here are the reasons I’ve come up with:
- The constraints to creating Intentional Community in Real Life are severe. People have family responsibilities, work responsibilities, economic responsibilities, that they can’t just walk away from. Until a support network of Intentional Communities can be established, it will be a struggle to find (and pay for) the right place, to self-organize, and to extract ourselves from responsibilities and commitments. The people I’ve spoken to about Intentional Community have more or less said to me: “Dave, great idea, ask me again in about ten years.” At various times I’ve been invited by three different people to meet to explore creating an Intentional Community with them, and I’ve balked — it’s just such a big step. What if it doesn’t work out? The history of Intentional Community Success in Real Life is not great, and fear of failure is very human. In Second Life, by contrast, the cost of failure (other than disappointment and heartbreak, which is a very real cost) is very small.
- Even if we can’t find the people we want to make community with in Second Life today, we can always invite the people we know in Real Life to join Second Life and our Intentional Community. This is a low-risk way to figure out whether, in Real Life, they’d be the right people to make community with as well, and this would allow us to ‘pre-populate’ the community with an exceptional group of people. What do we have to lose?
- Some readers comments on yesterday’s post have me wondering whether my 11 essential qualities of an Intentional Community member are too stringent, and an experiment in Second Life would be a good test of this.
- In a very short period of time I’ve grown to love several people I’ve met in Second Life. My instincts tell me that for those relationships to grow, we need a purpose, one that is not connected to Real Life. So what can that purpose be? It’s fun, and heart-warming, to meet new people and do silly things with them, and to help them deal with some of their problems (as they help you with yours). But then what? We need to do something other than replicate the patterns and behaviours that we face in Real Life, with the same jealousies and possessiveness and materialistic pursuits that plague us in our Real Lives. We need an alternative that is not subject to the grim constraints of contemporary Real Life, with all the emotional pain that so often accompanies the emotional joy of finding people to befriend and love in a brave new world. My instincts tell me that a polyamory Intentional Community, completely divorced from Real Life, is such an alternative.
More on this strange and exciting quest as it unfolds. Thanks to all the readers who have offered their encouragement and constructive criticism. Just when I thought the astonishing pace of my self-learning and self-change was slowing down, I am finding that every day brings new discoveries that force me to re-evaluate everything that I believe. All I know is that I’m happier than I have ever been, and relearning how important love is to everything we do, and to the future of ourworld.