Thursday, November 4, 2010

RANT ALERT: You're all a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites

Get with program, old-timer. You're like, "When I was a kid, fiction stayed within the printed page where it belonged and would not dream of stepping out into the real world." Excerpt from my reply to @prokofy in Fall From Grace post
This rant is directed at those of you who have criticized others for not expressing their "real self" in online identity. I'm going to prove that you're a self-righteous hypocrite in just a few easy steps. Unless you're too scared to take the test I propose. Ready?

Take a look in the mirror. I'm not being metaphoric. I mean get up from your chair, walk into the bathroom and look into the mirror. If you're wearing any makeup or hair products, wash them off. Go ahead. I'll wait for you.

Now dig your phone out of your pocket and take a head-shot photograph of yourself in the mirror. Ideally, you'll use a nice magnified makeup mirror that shows off your complexion in all of its glory. Got it? Great! 

Next, take off all of your clothes except for your underwear and take a full body photo. No sucking in your gut! Don't fix your posture. Alright. You can go back to your computer.

Now upload the headshot you just took and replace all of the cool avatar images that currently represent you online such as your twitter avatar and facebook profile picture and replace it with the head shot you just captured. Next, replace any larger images that represent you with the full body shot. And if you have a blog, add it to your "about me section". 

While we're at the "about me", we might as well make sure your real self is reflected. Take a few moments and replace whatever is there now with the plain truth. Something like:
"Middle aged, overweight under-achiever unable to form lasting intimate relationships. Enjoys self-medicating with alcohol and compensating for low self-esteem by attacking others on the internet."  
All done? No? Why not? Haven't you expressed the opinion that it is unethical to misrepresent yourself virtually?

The truth is that everyone is selective about what they represent about themselves online. This extends from the images we use on profile pictures to the comments we make in social network streams and blogs. And the question of authentic representation is not just about what we share, but about what we withhold.

So unless you're ready to present a no-spin, unadorned, unretouched depiction of yourself including all of your dirty laundry, please stop whining about others and get your own fake-ass house in order.

Authentically Yours,

Botgirl Questi


Chestnut Rau said...

Brava, BG

Gabby Panacek said...

You mean I can't airbrush out the cellulite and freckles? hrmpf.

Well said, Botgirl. Rant on!

R. said...

Actually, my doctor prescribed the alcohol. (Do you know how hard it is to get a prescription for Jack Daniels filled out at Wallgreens?)


Angie McGregor-Pearse said...


Anonymous said...

There's no winning. One person will fuss at you for not being creative enough or being different enough, someone else for not being yourself. Just be, ffs, and let others do the same.

Well said, Botgirl. Here and elsewhere.

epredator said...

Well said. We all have shades of self. It is too simply for people to try and suggest its binary.
equally its hard for people to try and deal with the fact they may not be as straight forward as they want everyone to think.
So this real ID thing generally gets used as an excuse

Rowan Derryth said...

Everyone crafts identity, whether consciously or no. RL and SL alike.

Some are just more thoughtful and clever about it than others.

Jim Tarber said...

But... I thoroughly enjoy being a self-righteous hypocrite. You say that like it's a bad thing. :)

Sean Kleefeld said...

To play devil's advocate, though, we generally have an inherent subconscious bias against seeing/identifying our own defects. So while you could take a makeup-less photo, re-writing your "About Me" -- even in the most earnest attempts at accuracy -- will still likely present a skewed picture. Especially if anything venturing on opinion is put forward. Even in your quick example, what exactly is "middle-aged"? How is "under-achiever" defined?

For me, I try to present as authentic a portrait of myself online as possible. (With the obvious caveat of having my own subconscious biases.) Even in my icons and avatars, I try to make them look as much like me as I'm able. I have enough trouble keeping up with reality, so I don't feel any need to invent others to keep track of as well! :)

But, as I said, that's me. I don't harbor any judgement against anyone using screen names or wholly manufactured identities online.

Rob Knop said...

What?? Prokofy said something that was utterly full of shit? Wow! Who'd've thunk it?

Nicely said, though. We all wear masks all of the time. Sometimes it's nice to be cognizant of those masks and choose them instead of unconsciously putting them on.

Lalo Telling said...

As Mr. Crap has said in another context: "Take your base."

Scarp Godenot said...

My advice: "Trolls are best left ignored." Though your post has its own merits as a general statement.......

sororNishi said...

Yep, totally correct.

Our concept of 'real' is complete fiction, it's just a fiction we have lived with so long we fail to see how virtual it is.

Wol said...

/me stands up and applauds.

Anonymous said...

Comparing gender "spoofing" to wearing makeup is more than a bit of hyperbole! Many people, myself included, are open about their RL and Avatar identities, don't wear makeup of any kind and are similarly fit, functional and free from neurosis in both "First" and "Second" (Virtual) Lives. You can find a RL photo of me in the space provided for it in my SL profile.

This Halloween season is a perfect time to address the difference between "dressing up" and willful deception. Everyone, including the person wearing the costume, knows a costume is not an accurate depiction of the person beneath it. Someone portraying themselves as "really" something they are not, with no intention of correcting the misguided perception of those they encounter, unless involuntarily "outed," is being dishonest.

Xandra said...

First of all, responding to Prok is like trying to have a debate with a paranoid schizophrenic. It doesn't matter how much proof you have that the voices they're hearing aren't real, you aren't going to convince them. It's an exercise in futility and I highly recommend not doing it.

As for the topic at hand, it's not even about the hypocrisy for me. Because truthfully, we are all hypocrites at some point or other, even if we don't know it. Yes, even you. That's just human nature.

What gets me is the gall of some people to declare that doing things in any way other than the way *they* want them done is wrong or immoral. Honestly, why does anyone care so much whether my avatar looks like my 'real life' self or not? If it bothers you so much that someone might be deceptive about who their 'real life' self is, then get the hell off the internet, for starters, because all you're gonna find is a whole lot of disappointment.

Mera Kranfel said...

Couldnt have said it better. Why have a "second life" if we are not allowed to use our imagination and the opportunities in those worlds? Then i´ll settle for the whiskey instead ;)

Botgirl Questi said...

Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the rant. It was definitely NOT directed at any particular individual because I notice various degrees of that perspective all over the place, even among role players who as Xandra described, think the particular way that THEY do it is okay, but not the way those OTHERS choose to do it.

Azzura said...


Crone on the Loose OG said...

YES! right. and yes to all the good comments as well.

Miso Susanowa said...

Weeeee! Nice post and great issue.

You forgot to mention that people should also remove all height mods (lifts, heels), tooth caps, nose jobs, ear bobs, botox injections, facelifts, girdles, toupees, padded shoulders, wooden legs & etc.

What I find most interesting in these online debates stretching back years and years is that usually indignation boils down to the Gender Question.

My own opinion is close to RL on this one: unless I am going to ask you to bed, your sexuality is not really an issue. However, I do notice that many main primate interactions have this as an undertow...

THAT is the question I find interesting and worth studying as a reflection of race consciousness and interaction in a so-called "mature society."

For more information, pls read Margaret Atwood, Shulamith Firestone, Naomi Wolfe, et al.

Extropia DaSilva said...

Botgirl asks us to look in the mirror at ourselves, which offers a neat excuse for me to mention Jaques Lacan's 'Mirror Theory'.

According to Lacan, when a baby is born, it has no sense of self or of a unified body. The infant cannot distinguish itself from its mother, or any other object. As far as the infant’s subjective state is concerned, all that exists are needs, such as need for nourishment and need for comfort, which are, ideally, met. Lacan marked the transition from this ‘real’ phase to ‘imaginary’ via a conceptual leap made by the infant when confronted with its own reflection in a mirror. As it looks back and forth between the image in the mirror and a real person (usually its mother), the infant acquires the idea that it is a whole person. It identifies the mirror image as ‘me’.
Lacan argued that this is a mistaken assumption. The mirror image cannot be ‘me’ because it is an external object. But, far from correcting its mistake, other people reinforce the belief that the reflection is ‘me’ by pointing to it and saying things like ‘look, that is you’. Thus, the ego, according to ‘mirror theory’, is a fantasy based on an identification with an external image.

Extropia DaSilva said...

speaking of authentic representations, Pablo Picasso was once confronted by a man who demanded to know, 'why can't you paint people as they really look'?

The great artist asked what the person meant.

This prompted the guy to pull out a passport photo. "Look, this is my wife. This is what she really looks like".

Picasso studied the photo for a few seconds before replying, "Your wife is very small and flat, isn't she?".

Joonie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Philena said...

Hey! Maybe some of us are just too lazy to keep up with difference persona all over the net. It's bad enough two or more avatars is overwhelming for me. LOL

Extropia DaSilva said...

>Many people, myself included, are open about their RL and Avatar identities...You can find a RL photo of me in the space provided for it in my SL profile.<

The trouble is, I only have your word that you are open about your identity and that the person in the photograph really is you. It is possible that the photograph is of somebody else and what seems like a true representation is an elaborate hoax.

Pure fantasy avatars on the other hand, the ones who appear as outlandish cartoon characters and whose first life profile is left blank, are definitely not lying. They are quite open about being fictional; of having no resemblence to any RL person. Anyone befriending such a character does so in the full knowledge that what they see in SL is not what they get in RL.

Contrast this with people who claim 'my avatar is a true reflection of my real self', a statement which needs independent verification before you KNOW it is not a lie.

Botgirl Questi said...

Miso: Like you, it doesn't matter to me what anyone's RL gender is because I have never had any interest in pseudonymous romantic SL encounters. But in any case, if it matters to someone they are free to ask, and the other person is free to decline. And I think that when it comes to important relationships be they business or personal, it is quite okay to ask for some sort of verifiable confirmation such as voice chat, etc. And the other person can again, decline.

From my perspective is to wrong to overtly lie about aspects of one's RL identity, but it is also wrong-headed to not get verification about anything that is very important to you about a potential business or romantic relationship.

Botgirl Questi said...

Extropia: Thanks for the scientific and artistic examples.. The mind/body is amazing. We take in a constant stream of small and disconnected sensorial impressions and somehow construct a mental model of the entire universe.

I agree with you that a photograph can be faked, but there are other more reliable means of identification.

Botgirl Questi said...

Xandra: I think Prok and I have been having a reasonably productive series of discussions here and on the Cross Gender Avatar thread. I try to respond to the substance with substance and to the zings with zings.

Raven Haalan said...

Sorry. Camera broke. Keyboard rebelled in horror. Reality transfer refused by net.

Think it's for the best. :)

Miso Susanowa said...

Botgirl: I agree. If it's so important for someone to know my "real life" (considering that even in "RL" we all tell stories; stories of our origins, our myths, our guiding principles, our pasts &etc) they can ask, or hang with me; in long discussions between friends, a person is quite revealed (at least as much as they are in "RL").

If all they want to know is my SEX... well, I figure there's no really good reason for that unless they are interested in me sexually. And since I refuse to be caught up in a romantic relationship on the net, I usually tell them point-blank that I am not interested.

It's either a sexual foray or an immature viewpoint that needs to box me on first contact and fit me into their slotted worldview and preconceptions as to what sex does what. I am interested in neither, RL or in SL. Never have been, never will be.

Extropia DaSilva said...

>even in "RL" we all tell stories; stories of our origins, our myths, our guiding principles, our pasts &etc<

Uhuh. We see narratives everywhere. Pyschologists have tested this by creating animations using simple geometric shapes. When people are asked to explain what is going on, they see purpose and intent. 'The little circle is trying to climb the hill, but the big square won't let it' or 'the red triangle is being chased by the blue triangle'.

Some anthropologists see stories as a vital part of human interactions. They are a convenient way of explaining to each new generation the rules that govern society. Literary Darwinists point to common themes which crop up again and again throught all history and all cultures.

The process is not one way, either. After all, authors achieve 'narrative transport' (the psychologists' term for believable characters and events) by drawing inspiration from real people and places.

I believe this means that whenever you invent a new means of communication and socialising, people will adapt that technology for storytelling. And if you invent a new way of storytelling, that will be used to facillitate communication. Obviously we see this in online worlds where roleplay coexists with social networking.

Jordyn Carnell said...

Erving Goffman put it well in his 1959 book "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life".

Nothing changes.

Yordie Sands said...

hi Botgirl... your rant resurrected one of my old rants. I call it the "I'm just me" rant.


Vanessa Blaylock said...

OMG, do I have to be "honest" on my resume too? You can't actually get a job with an un-embellished resume... can you?

Miso Susanowa said...

Hai, Extropia! We are a race of storytellers. What I meant was, usually people will craft their narrative according to audience - the way you describe your hawt, party-night out to your BFF is probably not the way you'll be describing the same event to your Mom. Unless it was a dull night ^_^

Crafting such a narrative is the same as crafting an avatar: presentation of personal "viewpoint" and "justification" and "reality" and "orientation" and the like. Anyone over the age of perhaps 21 knows "not to take a book by its cover" and yet we persist in trying to define this issue by an avatar's presence, which is crafted just as much as the stories people tell you in RL about their inner motivations and realities.

It's just funny to me that this issue, which is really much broader than avatars or virtual reality, seems to pull the triggers on so many people.

small, simple example: Jeffrey Dahmer. Crafted a REAL LIFE persona all the neighbors loved; a clean, nice, soft-spoken and helpful young man. The reality of Mr Dahmer was that he was a hienous monster who killed people and ate them.

What is that but a fictional avatar presented to a community of people in RL? Identity vs overcoat, avatar, story. It's the same wherever you go.

sirhc desantis said...

' Extropia DaSilva - very small and flat ' hahaha i'd forgotten thst one! And i did the rl/vl image thing. about the only difference is the av is taller, and has a tail/ears. body wise its a bit pudgier than me.

Great post !

Extropia DaSilva said...

People are prolific imitators. We absorb each other’s jokes, accents, catchphrases, analogies, metaphores, tales, memories and sometimes we incorporate such things into our own lives. As Hoffstadter said, “we are all curious collages… each of us is a bundle of fragments of other peoples’ souls, simply put together in a new way”.

We observe all kinds of patterns in daily life, not only when we fully participate in the society we live in, but also whenever we watch a film, read a book, listen to the radio or music or surf the Web. A character in a novel or roleplayed in an online world does not pop into existence when pen is put to paper or an account is set up. The likes of Borgirl already exist as fragments of patterns embedded within the larger patterns produced and maintained by cultural memory systems.

The act of writing or roleplaying serves to bring order to those patterns, to make it easier for others to perceive them. As each fragment is copied into the neural hardware and as connections and correlations are made, does a tipping point occurr whereby an idea becomes so bright that the mind has no choice but to express it?

Anonymous said...


There was a good article by Sarah Wanenchak in Game Studies a few months ago, looking at online role-playing with reference to Goffman's frame analysis:

Tags, Threads, and Frames: Toward a Synthesis of Interaction Ritual and Livejournal Roleplaying

Anonymous said...


There was a good article by Sarah Wanenchak in Game Studies a few months ago, looking at online role-playing with reference to Goffman's frame analysis:

Tags, Threads, and Frames: Toward a Synthesis of Interaction Ritual and Livejournal Roleplaying

Botgirl Questi said...

Miso: My philosophy on disclosure is that you have the right to ask and I have the right not to tell. And we both have the right limit the types of interactions we have based upon our comfort level with what's been verifiably disclosed.

Extropia: It is very hard to experience anything with "bare attention" and refrain from superimposing some sort of narrative on the sensory impressions we receive.

Jordyn, Yordie and Johnny: Thanks for the links!

Anonymous said...

Marie Ravencrow said...

Aaaahahahaha....sounds like you ran into someone I know on SL (and detest). Bravo!