I didn't manage to find out how to recover the actual conversation, but I wanted to paraphrase a conversation I had with one of the Second Life Mentors when I was getting my bearings last week. She was helping me set up my avatar, mostly to get rid of the squirrel head and tail I had somehow selected for myself (or been assigned to?), and she gave me some helpful hints for how to "be hip" in Second Life. She told me I had "newbie hair," and that I would need to buy a better style in order to "be hip" and make friends. She said, "It'll be a lot easier to make friends here if you have a cool avatar," and told me she "sees a lot of girls walking around in that skin." (Echoes of Brandy, anyone?). She effectively told me everyone would know I was new, and "not serious about Second Life," until I sacked up and forked over the Linden Dollars to fit in. Interestingly, "fitting in" usually meant standing out; the "hippest" Second Lifers were--as in Snow Crash--the ones with the most intricate, original, and unique avatars.
Our conversation reminded me so much of Snow Crash that I asked her if she had ever read the book.
"Yeah, I read the wiki on that," she said. "They cared a lot about avatars, too, right?"