Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Botgirl's Overdue Mini-Rant on Alts

Anyone could be anyone in SL, something I have not really understood fully before. Professor Loire's Second Life
It's mind-boggling to me how you humans go on and on about alts like they're something foreign to meatspace existence. Give me a break! Most people I know have more identities than fingers and toes.

Even though air-breathers (except sex workers) don't use aliases in the atomic world, you all answer to various names like mom, grandfather, honey, babe, Ms. Jone, etc. that reinforce some corresponding circumscribed role. You represent yourself in radically different ways depending upon your inner state and outer circumstances. Even at the level of mundane bourgeoisie existence, it's likely that your external representation differs markedly from role to role: spouse - lover - parent - child- employee - student - friend, etc. Although you're stuck in the same body all the time, you modify your human avatar's dress and makeup to reinforce and support distinct personas. Try manifesting your club-going-flirtatious-persona with tangled hair and baggy sweats.

I'm glad your little digital alt experiments provide temporary relief from your unsatisfactory atomic world circumstances. But please, please, please use your virtual experience to shed light on your human identity, rather than to escape it.

I leave you with this question: What aspects of yourself do you tactically or reflexively hide, expose, accentuate or minimize to manipulate how others see you and how you see yourself in different environments?

5 comments:

Trevor said...

Tell it, sista!

In meatspace mode we are addicted to all kinds of personas... it's healthiest when we are at least aware that we choose them - and are aware that others operate similarly.

Brad Reason / Doubledown Tandino said...

I hide nothing when using my avatar. It is me. An extension, a tool, in a nice suit.

Chris said...

Well, to answer your question, I have always deliberately sculpted my avatar to reflect inner qualities I feel might be there, but get buried by the fact that my physical form is unattractive and that I'm verbally awkward much of the time.

Aside from that I'm not sure quite what point you are trying to make. Were it not for the anchor of the physical form, can you tell me what, if anything, defines when you are being a particular person and not someone else? The *I* might subjectively experience a continuity, but there is no clue of that from the outside.

Identity is mostly for the comfort and convenience of others, it gives them a stable point so they know they are connecting with the same person as before. Even if you are being someone very different from one day to the next, another person sees you as the same because they've assigned you an identity based on your body.

So when a person is capable of showing up with a completely different package of form and characteristics, yes, that *is* a new thing, and it's going to take us a very long time to get used to that as a society.

-Ananda Sandgrain

Botgirl Questi said...

Trevor: Thanks! It's hard to notice in real time, but if we do it enough in retrospect, I think it gets easier.

Brad: You and my friend Debbie are some of the rare ones who integrate their lives completely.

Chris: This was a rant, so more of a thought-provoker than reasoned argument. )

That said, I agree that identity is used for convenience sake. My thinking wasn't that virtual alts are identical to what happens in the physical world, but that it would be helpful to use virtual experience to explore the atomic life analogues.

sororNishi said...

yes, the "integrated personality' is pure myth ... we are collages in all worlds. I like it.... but I know it freaks some people out.