For the perfect flâneur, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow. – Charles Baudelaire
What does it take to be a flâneur in Second Life? To wander amidst people as one might saunter through a city?
Several times I have mentioned network effects on the grid – the way that people attract people. A crowded sim gets more crowded, even if it’s not a very pleasant place to be.
And an empty sim usually stays that way. People who land often move on quickly if they find that nobody else is around.
As I said in another post, many of us prefer being together, even when we want to be alone.
When I first joined Second Life, camping chairs were one way of dealing with this. You could sit and earn money, as time served. Tiny amounts.
If you checked traffic for a sim and it seemed busy, you might arrive only to find nothing but campers.
I am not sure exactly what happened to camping chairs, but I’m glad they went away. Bots seem to be the issue now.
Speaking personally, I never found it difficult to bump into people in Second Life. We all know where the populated spots are. Bars, beaches, and stores.
My issue has been about running into unusual people – the very people, in fact, who tend to avoid populated spots. Even by hopping around the grid all day, the odds of finding them are pretty low.
Or at least it seems that way.
In any case, the whole point of being a flâneur was to wander slowly through a crowd, not hop from crowd to crowd.
Nothing epitomises this better than Walter Benjamin’s remark …
… around 1840 it was briefly fashionable to take turtles for a walk in the arcades. The flâneurs liked to have the turtles set the pace for them.
Flâneurie and teleporting hardly go together …
These days I rarely stray far from Furillen. But interestingly, by staying put I have experienced a far busier, and infinitely more varied and interesting, grid than I did when I moved around all of the time.
Not that people move through Furillen all that quickly. If listeners to the music stream are anything to go by, the average stay is around thirty minutes, while one in ten visitors stay for more than an hour.
But it is quality, not quantity, that really matters in this respect.
While being featured in the Second Life Destination Guide has given the sim its fair share of noobs and passers by, by far the greatest selection of visitors to Furillen are some of the most interesting avatars one could hope to see.
From tourists …
… through bloggers …
… and photographers …
… to artists.
It isn’t easy to be a flâneur in Second Life.
Unless you find a place to stand …
… and stare.