Monday, April 20, 2009

Avatar Without A Home

High Above It All

After months of only project-related jaunts into Second Life, I spent a half dozen hours there on Saturday just for fun. I did some sightseeing, shopped a bit and hung out with an old friend. As we were flying through the clouds in her elaborate airship, I suddenly realized that my sense of the virtual world as a "reality" had somehow slipped away since I sold my Extropia home in January. I guess the part of my mind responsible for maintaining the mental model of Second Life had shifted resources to more current concerns.

I find that I am constantly shifting resources to make things fit into the budgetary constraints of my time and attention. There are two contradictory challenges that make it hard for me to find balance between doing, experiencing and simply being:
  • an impossible longing to cram the infinite digital universe into the finite boundaries of my time and attention; and
  • an insatiable muse who pushes me to be creating something every waking minute.
My habitual tendency is to deal with these agonizingly visceral demands by binge and purge. I immerse myself in an area of interest until I'm about drowned and then cut myself off completely. Then I move on to the next. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It's hard sometimes to figure out the line between inspiration and obsession; creativity and compulsion.

I've also recently noticed that continuous connection to social networks has made me feel as if I need to constantly create myself within that universe. In some unhealthy way, my sense of identity has moved from a center of introspective awareness and dissipated into the Net.

So I'm feeling like an Avatar without a home.

This too will pass. Thanks for listening.


Shelby Rasmuson said...

Know the feeling, I tend to move get comfortable then move again...

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy listening to you, even in stillness (pondering your posts, for example), and very much relate to the idea of "diving in with both feet." I tend to do the same (and always have even before social networks and SL). In terms of art and communication, I think the all-in approach is very much part of the creative process as well as (for me) a fascination with the process itself. ...someone asked me years ago to define dance, this was when I actively studied and apprenticed in jazz/modern dance. I replied that dance is the movement between the comes together as a whole, as a work through the incremental processes that shape it, define it, influence it. So the immersion in the creative process makes sense to me somehow even if it's difficult to articulate it clearly. I found your last point fascinating and interesting as well. If I understand your meaning correctly, I would wonder if the feeling of self-transferrence to the net is really a sensation created by the immediate and constant feedback we get from countless venues for social networking. As a firm believer in the idea that "wherever we go, there we are," (including within ourselves) I don't know that we can entirely escape ourselves ( ie lose our internal awareness), most particularly our core, no matter how many social networks we're engaged in. I do think, however, that the constant, near immediate feedback that is part and parcel of social networking might help to give rise to "a sensation" that our identities are strongest (?), more valid (?), have more meaning and consequences (?) - (not sure precisely what the sensation is but I do think it's there) - on the net. A balance between constant feedback and internal stillness, internal reflection - even in the face of the feedback onslaught - is admirable indeed...particularly now. Reminds me of Phil Jackson entering a Zen state in the midst of a hotly contested basketball game. I've always greatly admired that and think it's very much a worthwhile skill/ability to develop and practice. (Easier said than done for me, but I keep trying.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.