You know, of the search terms that bring people to the main blog, “the best xxxxx” is a pretty common one. In the past week I’ve seen several queries for “the best skyboxes” and “the best male skins”, among others. There’s just one problem with search queries like this:

The results are always someone else’s idea of ‘the best’.

Sure, word of mouth counts for a heck of a lot in any arena, both real and virtual, but someone can suggest buying Fabulous Male Skin from Fabulous Skin Shop, but that skin may look horrible on your avatar shape. Someone else might suggest buying Amazing Skybox from Amazing Store, but you can’t rez it because it’s too primmy or you don’t like all the scripted bells and whistles it comes with.

There’s no quick fix to a perfect Second Life. Yes, you can buy full avatar kits and get your avi done up in one quick and simple pack. You can get your Linden Home, buy that top AO that everyone recommends, live in the skybox that has the most stars and ratings on XstreetSL/SL Marketplace. And if stamping your own personality and expressing your own individuality visually onto your Second Life isn’t that important to you, then do all those things and more power to your elbow! (I’m not referring here to those that do such by sheer power of personality: the “it’s not what I wear; it’s how I behave/speak/etc” people; rather I’m referring to the visual aspect of SL which is, after all, what distinguishes it from any other social ‘chat’ venue.)

If expressing your individuality is your thing, then do just that. Try on as many shape and skin demos as you can. Heck, use one of the library shapes and play around with it until it’s your own. Hop around the many freebie blogs (if money is tight) and pick and choose from the many, many fantastic free items that creators give out in their stores, in subscribe-o-matics, in treasure hunts, in Midnight Mania boards and lucky chairs. Build an inventory of clothing that you love and can create your own individual looks from. Customise your own AO with individual poses that you’ve found and love.

Eventually, you may find yourself wearing the same shape all the time. Because that’s your shape: the one you’re comfortable in. You’ve found your shape. Skins may change, but you may come across a skin designer whose work you love, whose skins always seem to suit your shape perfectly. So, too, you’ll discover favourite designers that you always return to. Those of you that don’t inhabit human avatars may find your favourite creators of other avatars, and find yourself returning to them time and again.

The humans among us may stick with one hair colour, be it similar to our real life colour or something wild or different that becomes our signature. We may discover signature colours in clothing, which is infinitely helpful when we’re in a store and wondering which colour of something we want to buy. Mar’s signature colour is (as you probably know!) purple, but she also buys greens and browns and all autumnal shades in between. Having one or two colour palettes helps enormously when you’re putting together outfits, as you’re not left trying to match some crazy colour when you have nothing else like it in your inventory.

Don’t get complacent. (This is beginning to sound like that Sunscreen song!) Look out for new designers and try their work. Hunts are great for discovering new things, and you never know: your new favourite clothing or shoe or skin designer may have a freebie set out in the next hunt you do.

So, when someone recommends something to you as “the best this or that” take it with a grain of salt and try it out for yourself, as well as trying other variants.

However you express yourself in Second Life, have fun doing it :)