Image by Anonymitts used under Creative Commons License
A comment on yestersday's post got me thinking:
Complaints about people not being who they "really" are, or having a name or identity different from their "real" selves are just admitting that SL just doesn't go far enough, yet. We're still not able to self-actualize fully. We're still pinned to bodies, and names, that we did not choose for ourselves but were assigned in a world that doesn't yet sufficiently yield to change. Ananda SandgrainAs a Vajrayana-school Buddhist, my view of virtual identities as being "real" has always been in the relative truth sense of the word. Since neither physical identity nor virtual identity inherently exists outside of the story-making mind, I saw them as equivalent.
But for some reason, Ananda's comment hit me like a Zen Master's stick and I suddenly saw the question in a new way: "How can we be who we are by hiding what we are?" The associated images that filled my mine were of humans in real life situations wearing masks and voice changers, refusing to disclose personal information in settings such as their work, school and clubs. It seemed absurd.
After reflecting on the question, I have a tentative answer that makes sense to me:
There is a difference between "who you are" (the sentient being) and "what you are" (the aggregation of your physical aspects). Unfortunately, the perception of our essential self is distorted by the package we come in.
- The way we view ourselves is impacted profoundly by social identity.
- The way we are viewed by others is commonly based upon a reflexive response to physical factors such as age, race and appearance; and social factors such as job, income and nationality.
Now this does not mean that most people consciously use pseudonymity for that purpose. But I suspect that the simple experience of seeing oneself in a new way acts to loosen the grip of psychological limitations we've acquired over the course of our physical lives.