Jan 3, 2009

Second Life SLebrity - Word of the Year 2009

I try to keep my real life very separate from my Second Life experience. That way I have a virtual clean slate - you judge me on what you discover about Sigmund Leominster and what he does. The minute I say "as a policeman in real life," "as minister in real life" or any permutation of "as a in real life," you begin to judge and make assumptions, either consciously or subconsciously.

However, I'm not too worried about saying "as a linguist in real life" because that's a phrase most folks will either misunderstand or have no reaction to. I doesn't mean I speak lots of languages (I speak British English and American English, so I am bilingual) but that I work in a profession that deals with "language" as a whole. I am interested in things like grammar, pronunciation, etymology, meaning, and lots of other weird and wonderful topics. I get paid to do this, so that helps ;)

All this is simply a preamble to commenting on the word SLebrity, which, after a year of living and working as a writer in Second Life, I discovered only a few days ago. How can that be? It seems such an obvious portmanteau that I'm surprised I didn't coin it myself many months ago.

Well, one reason for not coming across it is that it is still a low frequency word. When you perform a Google search, you get a figure that tells you how many examples of the search term are found. SLebrity has the following:

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,730 for slebrity

By contrast, sesquipedalian gets 104,000 hits, pareidolia gets 127,000, and even Sigmund Leominster gets 4,870! So, apart from the fact that I am clearly more of a SLebrity than slebrity,you get the idea: SLebrity is still a neonate in the world of words.

Top of the search list is a reference to SLebrity in the - surprise - Second Life Wikia. Here it is defined as, "a
portmanteau of SL for Second Life and celebrity. It refers to an avatar who has become notable in second life media, though not necessarily in the wider world."

Then comes a blog post entitled SLebrity Inc. June Promotional Contest, which refers to a contest held in June 2008, the results of which I sadly do not know and have no intention of finding out just yet because I have a life.

Moggs Oceanlane mentions the word in her December 2008 blog post about annual Second Life lists, in reference to Vain Inc.'s Best of Reader's Choice Nominations.

However, I feel that it is an under-used, under-valued word that has the potential to make it big. SLebrity can become a Slebrity! All it needs is a little promotion and tender loving care. And because Slebrity is, like real life Celebrity, a pointless, trivial, and ultimately irrelevant thing, I'm going to make it my Cause for 2009: Slebrity for SLebrity!

Not for me promoting the causes of cancer kids, starving Africans, abandoned kittens, whales, Welsh, or any one of a million celebrity-endorsed money-making schemes. No, I'm standing low and going for goal - nothing! A pointless campaign for a pointless reason purely because I want to. It's an existentialist wet dream writ large. And what's more, I can measure it so as to be able to prove whether what I have done over the year actually achieved anything. So here's the starting point:

January 3rd, 2009: The word SLebrity generates 2,730 hits.

All I have to do is to remember to check this again at the end of 2009 and see how many hits appear. And because it is based on objective crawling by the Google search engine, even you, dear reader, can check that I am not lying. The results of my promotion are objective, repeatable, and verifiable. Real science, ladies and gentlemen, not some crystal ball gazing or self-justified rationalization from a self -appointed "guru" who's trying to persuade you how right his or her predictions were. Nope. Real science.

And here's the really sweet thing: I can't lose! If the figure goes up, I claim victory in proving that I can promote a word to new heights. If the figure stays put or drops, I claim that I have demonstrated how shallow and pointless SLebrity is. It's a win-win for me come the end of the year.

You can help. Use the word "SLebrity" whenever you can. Use it in your blogs and articles. Add it to your profile. Buy my T-shirt - "I'm a SLebrity!" And most of all, come back in one year to see if my "Prediction for 2009" comes true.

No comments: