Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Synchronicity, Serendipity & Coincidence in Virtual Worlds

In the Name of Annah,
the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the Bringer of Plurabilities!
Haloed Be Her Eve!
Her Singtime Sung!
Her Rill be Run!
Unhemmed as it is Uneven!
from ‘Finnegan’s Wake
(orig. pub. 1939)

This blog-post discusses the intuition that instances of synchronicity, serendipity and coincidence occur more frequently in Virtual Worlds than in the Atomic physical world.
I was intending to use as examples recent occurrences I have had in Second Life with Squonk Levenque and Phillip Sidek, and our respective connections to Treptower Park - both in RL and, photographed on this blog, the SL version.
However, all too rapidly the events became too intense, too entangled and too personal to try and unravel and make sense of on a public blog.
(Click images to enlarge)
In at least one respect, coincidences are very much like dreams – to the person experiencing them they can be interesting, absorbing and intensely meaningful - but, the sad fact is, that it is often awful to have to sit and listen to others’ tell of their dreams and coincidences!
And I wouldn't want to inflict that upon you, dear reader.

So with this in mind I decided to make this blog-post somewhat more general and impersonal - discussing how events in time in Virtual Worlds often seem to “flow” at an accelerated rate in comparison with their atomic equivalent.

I am not thinking here of the rather commonplace “time flies when you are enjoying yourself” experience but rather a sense that ones personal learning curve, ones personal “life experience quotient” if you will, is somehow accelerated by having a virtual presence.

It seems sometimes as if virtual living allows us to pack more life-experiences into a given unit of time than would be possible in the atomic world. I think it is therefore possible to conjecture that virtual worlds could – by design or otherwise – facilitate a kind of “emotional incubator”.
Just as we already use computerised simulators to learn skills like flying an aircraft, surgery and other mechanical procedures, it might be possible to develop virtuality to help individuals emotionally and psychologically mature at an enhanced rate.

In fact, even with the shortest time immersed in some of the many various sub-cultures in Second Life you’ll hear people say how their affinity for different types of music has expanded; tell how their understanding of, for example, the GLBT community has been improved; describe a new-found ability to communicate and empathise with people quite unlike themselves – an ability which they never previously even suspected they had.

There are many more examples beside, but the point I am trying to stress is that without any co-ordinated effort or central planning, many people are already experiencing in Virtual Worlds a rudimentary form of the “emotional incubator” I am trying to describe.

In my mind’s eye I am visualising Virtual Worlds being employed in a manner analogous to, say, the so-called “astral journeys” used to experience the Sephiroth of the Qabalistic Tree of Life or maybe some of the techniques employed in Jung’s analytical psychology - perhaps even to Timothy Leary’s and others’ claims for the therapeutic uses of psychoactive drugs like LSD.

Understand that I am not stating that “virtual worlds are like astral journeys”. Nor am I advocating the use of psychoactive drugs or expressing a preference for the psychological philosophy of Carl Jung.
Not at all. What I am attempting to do is make a comparison between their *claims* (whether real or imagined) for the “accelerated evolution of human consciousness” with what I am envisaging could be a possible similar use for Virtual Worlds.

And I do feel that there are valid grounds to compare the internal image-making consciousness-exploring techniques of the Qabalah, Jung’s psychology and psychoactive drugs with an immersive presence in Virtual Worlds.

In my First Life I have noticed that instances of synchronicity, serendipity and coincidence seem to occur more frequently when I am “in the zone”, or “riding the wave”, “on the crest of a wave”, “on a high” etc.

Things just seem to fall into place at such times – the right people call; someone passes me just the right link; the right DVD is returned to the library the day I go looking for it; I get introduced to a friend of a friend who happens to have an expertise I need. I am sure you have similar experiences.
I believe I have noticed a direct correlation between the frequency of these things and my own internal sense of well-being.

That is, the better I feel about myself the more frequent are the occurrences of synchronicities, serendipities and coincidences.
In and of themselves, it is not the synchronicities, serendipities and coincidences which are making me feel good about myself – they appear to be a side effect of some sort.

No, I think that other things are contributing to me feeling good about myself and the synchronicities, serendipities and coincidences follow on from that.

Sure, there is likely a feedback loop from there – the synchronicities, serendipities and coincidences sometimes result in changes in conditions or circumstances which then reinforce the feeling of good about myself which then in turn results in further synchronicities, serendipities and coincidences… and so on.
But there is a more fundamental cause in this chain of events, I believe.

Something, or more likely some things (plural), is/are occurring to make me feel good about myself in the first place – and this initiates the chain which we have just described.
My sense of well-being seems to be directly proportional to my sense that I am “being me”. That is, that I am behaving in a manner that is natural for me – as an individual human being – to behave; that I am creating in a way that is natural for me – again, as an individual – to create; that I am dressing, working, playing and resting as naturally befits who I am as a unique individual.

When these elements of my life are smoothly functioning like a well engineered machine, my sense of well-being sky rockets and, seemingly magically, synchronicities, serendipities and coincidences follow in abundance.

In Virtual Worlds, we find that many conditions are easier to control and influence than their Atomic World equivalents.
Objects can be moved and positioned with pin point accuracy without many of the frustrations experienced with physical objects. The avatar body can be adjusted in so many ways that it is possible to have the perfect body – no matter how one might define that. One can dress in any way or have tattoos or piercings, hairstyles, jewellery and all the rest which just may not be possible in Atomic Life, for whatever reasons. One can conduct oneself in practically any way, if on the right region or parcel, without being questioned or harshly judged.

In short, for those motivated enough, it is possible to build a simulation of the environment and personal conditions that that particular individual needs to express themselves in a more natural way than their atomic life might permit.
This, I believe, leads to an increase in ones sense of well being and, as such, has genuine therapeutic possibilities.

In this blog-post, I’m suggesting that the ability in Virtual Worlds to effortlessly manipulate objects, easily change looks and the ability to reside in a community of likeminded individuals who will allow you to behave in most any manner you wish without repercussions, sets up the exact same set of conditions which simulate the “being me” that leads to an increase in well-being.
And that, I submit, is why instances of synchronicity, serendipity and coincidence apparently occur more frequently in Virtual Worlds than in the Atomic physical world – because we are more easily able to create environments that are natural to who we are as unique human beings.

Pixie xx

All pictures taken on 'Treptower Park' region owned by Squonk Levenque and Miuccia Klaar (co-owners of Kamikaze fashions).
Special thanks to Phillip Sidek for providing the inspiration for these thoughts and ideas.


  1. Well said --awesome words, incredible art, Lady reading this warmed my heart!ty needed this ~ zippidy Serendipity ps nd sorry about jumpin on your dance ball with your bf. blushes dont know what came over me

  2. How I'd love some one could turn me those deep thoughts of yours into French ! Think I understood the main idea, but still some doubt about my understanding of English language. Can anyone of French speaking help me with this wonderful "paper" ? If yes, you can write to klute50@hotmail.fr
    Still very fan of your blog Pixie

    Klute Coppola

  3. @zippidy: Ha! It made us both laugh! Thank you so much for reading.

    @Klute. Thank you for your continued support. Debbie speaks very warmly of you and sends her love. I have quite a number of French readers, I hope you have luck having it translated.