Well.....it has only been a month, but I think I have found the conclusions I was looking for.
No....you cannot have any life without consequences.
For a month, I have been in my own little social experiment. And at the end of this month, I have come to the conclusion that even with having the ability to fly, and the inability to get hurt or die, there are still consequences that cannot be avoided.
Let's talk practical cause and effect first. In this Second Life, you have the option of finding a home. It truly is optional, but of course a very nice thing to have for some privacy and an escape when needed. Homes (houses, apartments, etc) cost money.....which means that either a real-life person needs to put up a few bucks, or a second lifer needs to get a job. You have to pay rent and keep up that obligation - or you get evicted. And if you are evicted, you run the risk of not being able to rent or buy any other place later on. Having a job brings on a new level of responsibility - in that you have to work your designated shifts, and fulfil deliverables, and live up to the expectations of your employer. Sound familiar? Not keeping up any of these pieces will mean the loss of your job.....and we all understand what that leads to.
The real questions, though, are about the intangible things. The relationships and feelings that we are trying to avoid in places like Second Life. I have seen people date, get married, have kids, get divorced, and just "play the field" in Second Life. What I have observed is that people form the same sorts of relationships that we look for in real life, but no matter how hard we try to be feeling-less, there is still a real person behind the avatar. There may not be the physical feelings and reactions, but there is still a mind and heart behind all of this.....so there is still joy, pain, love, and heartache, to be felt.
This kind of life leads to a new way to experience everything we as humans have in the real life. For those that are short sighted and a little silly.....this is just a way to fool around in a cyber arena. But by far and away the people I know are the smart ones....and use this game as a tool to make their real lives better: chat with real life loved ones far away, bring a new dimension to a real life love, or find those friendships they feel safe in - where they haven't found it in the external world.
No. There is no life without consequences. No matter what steps are taken, there is still a real person with real feelings and real thoughts behind every non-real word and action. There is still a community to care for in a digital world....work to be done, bills to pay, and people to take care of. There are even pets to raise!
Even without being able to escape the "hardships" of life in this game.....I am very glad I have joined it. I have been afforded the opportunity to meet people I would never EVER meet otherwise, and I have had the chance to try things that could never happen anywhere else. I have seen digital renditions of classic artwork. I have been to live streaming-audio concerts of new musicians from around the world. There may be no lack of consequences.....but I have found that the consequences I come across are certainly worth it for what I have gained.