The first time my avatar didn't fully take shape upon my Second Life virtual world re-entry I was disoriented at best. I stood half hunched over, hair slicked back to a mullet with eyes and other body parts bulging in disfigurement. Thankfully those around me took time to point out that I was, in a word, "Ruthed".
What an odd name for such a horrific (if even temporary) state of being. I wondered aloud, was Ruth a biblical reference? No one had an answer but over time our Ruth became a part of the Second Life culture.
According to the King James Bible, Ruth was a widowed woman so loyal to her mother-in-law Naomi that when faced with a choice to leave, she uttered an impassioned plea that has since been used in countless marriage ceremonies:
Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.By 2007, armies of Ruths marched into the valleys of Second Life. And despite plagues of technical curses and wraths, many clung to the robes of this new world until their knuckles turned white. Like Ruth and her Naomi, each sought a new life cast from the fates of the past.
Years later, our Ruth has shape-changed into an amorphous cloud. While kingdoms after Kingdon continue to slide into the great sea of tranquility, and despite offerings placed at the feet of Steam-powered alters, our collective devotion to dear Naomi teeters, leaving some to wonder if we should finally abandon this Land of Canaan yet again.
"Are you still playing that Second Life game?" It's a question I am still too often asked. I try to add a shade of clarity to my once bold, now quieted response "It's not exactly a game ... but, yes."
As I speak, I can feel myself twisted into a real-life Ruth struggling to maintain my fidelity for Naomi and keep her from twisting into just somebody that I used to know.
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