I just read an interesting interview with Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad. It was right on time, as I've been mulling over my virtual life in preparation for today's conversation on Inside the Avatar Studio. He said:
It finally dawned on me that TV is about stasis, and it is about life, whereas our lives are about change. We get older with every passing moment. We change in our lives, we change our hairstyles. We change our outlooks on life, our political views sometimes. TV by design has to have a certain amount of stasis to it, because the goal in television is to have a TV show that lasts for many decades. But it’s hard to have characters on your TV show change when you are trying to provide a safe haven for the viewers, a familiar place for the viewers to come back to week in and week out.Although he's writing about fictional characters, the same forces play upon those of us who avidly blog and social network. Every post we make is part of an ongoing story we are telling about ourselves. The decisions about what we include and omit in our public narratives create a divergence between the full spectrum of who we are and the image of ourselves we present to others. It also works to keep us inside the box of our story arcs and makes it harder to make significant changes in our lives. Although this process is just as true for those who represent themselves online through wallet names, it's easier to discern the variances through the virtual lives of the pseudonymous.
I was very conscious of Brand Botgirl during the first year of public life. I never disclosed my human identity in public or private. The content I posted here and on social media sites was completely constrained by the backstory of being an AI who woke up within a virtual world. It was the perfect thing to do at the time. It allowed me to immerse myself in the character, see the world through her eyes and facilitate an ongoing series of realizations that I can't imagine how I would have otherwise experienced.
Over the course of time a few factors emerged that eventually pushed me out of my little nest. The first was the development of a handful of friendships that began to feel constrained by my fixed wall of pseudonymous method acting. Surprisingly, another source of visceral pressure to change came from the character herself who was straining against the confines of the artificially truncated perspective. After months of hand-wringing, I finally gave up pseudonymity and started on a new path that has ended up with a very fuzzy border between my multiple online identities: The I that is We.
It's likely that brand and virtual identity will be one of the topics we discuss today during Inside the Avatar Studio today. It's an hour show that will begin at 3:30pm SL/PST. You can attend in Second Life or view the live stream on Metaverse Television.