People come and go. It's a fact of life. Friends also move on, though one can keep in contact in many ways. One of the great benefits of the Aetherwebs, indeed, is that it provides efficient methods of communication that, among other things, allow one to maintain contact with those not physically near.
Second Life is no different. People's interests change, and they go elsewhere to seek what they need, whether that is entertainment, enlightenment, education, or erotica. Sadly, people also die, which tends to limit greatly their time in-world.
It is also quite sad, however, to see people move on before they would otherwise choose to do so, for reasons beyond their control. In the past few weeks, I have had opportunity to revisit that sadness several times. First, Mr. Merryman and Miss Seminario decamped for happier virtual worlds, fed up with the Lab beyond the point of endurance. More recently, Dr. Mason also departed, also as the result of an unspecified dispute with the Lab. Yes, all three are alive and kicking, on the Aetherwebs in various forms and, in some sense, as nearby as they ever were.
But the fact that they felt they could not stay, or could not stay under current conditions, is both unfortunate and disturbing - the latter because it does not speak well of the Lab's desire to cultivate its dedicated users and content creators. One of the things that distinguishes SL from online roleplaying games is the ability to modify the world in ways that go far beyond what a typical game designer allows. And it's hardly an original observation to say that this content creation has a huge feedback (usually positive) on other participants. I buy clothing, fly in airships, and employ weapons made by others. I also enjoy the neighborhoods that are made possible by the creativity of others: without it, there is no Caledon, no Steelhead, and no Second Life.
Content creation is not always a clean business
At some point, SL will not be the only game in town. Even today, no one is forced to stay - and God knows how many have already voted with their (virtual) feet and pulled up stakes already. I have written before that I fail to understand the Lab's business model. It is possible they have one that makes sense, but I will say one thing with confidence: any model that alienates content creators who spend money and induce others to spend money on your business is a model doomed to failure.
As the young people today might conclude: just sayin'.