by Serendipidy Haven
Avatar: from the Sanskrit avatāra ‘descent’, from ava ‘down’ + tar- ‘to cross’. A manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth; an incarnate divine teacher. An incarnation, embodiment, or manifestation of a person or idea.
Whilst most of us would hesitate to describe our virtual representation as a deity manifest, few would have any problem with considering our pixel form as an incarnation, embodiment or manifestation of ourselves, or of the more esoteric, nebulous constructs that define who we are. Indeed, a great many of us consider our avatars to be more representative of who and what we are than we would ever dare show, if indeed we could, in our real lives.
There’s little doubt that SL has the capability to release aspects of our character and make up that are heavily suppressed or hidden in our day to day lives,
It’s been said the avatar is a mask; but for me, it isn’t. A mask hides what lies behind – SL reveals it. A mask is expressionless, but SL give us the freedom to express ourselves; there are various explanations for this – many of which I’ve explored before in the pages of this blog. Whether it’s the anonymity that allows us to be our true selves, the freedom we’re given in virtual form, the wide variety of concepts, ideas and cultures, contained within such a small world, or the distance that SL allows us to put between the actions of our virtual selves and reality that gives us the scope to be other than what we appear to be, is largely immaterial. What matters to the majority of us is the simple fact that we can, and do, perceive our virtual selves to be more able, more honest and more open than perhaps we can ever be in the real world.
I’ve heard it frequently stated that the way we present ourselves inworld is, in essence, a mask – that what those around us see is how we choose to be seen. A mask, of course can be perceived in more ways than those which we may think we are presenting to others. It can create anonymity; a mask can hide the truth; we can disguise or change how others see us; a mask can be employed both for good and for less savoury purposes. We can employ masks to mystify, intensify, challenge, invoke fear, provoke laughter and hide our feelings entirely. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can certainly employ our avatars in any one of these diverse fashions, however I feel that to do so misses an extremely important and significant point: Certainly, our avatar can be employed as a mask, however our avatar can equally, and perhaps in even greater measure, be the mechanism by which we unmask ourselves.
I’ve already mentioned in this post how SL permits us to ‘be ourselves’, and over the years I’ve spoken to many, many people who would aver this is true for them, whether in terms of their inworld pursuits, confidence-building or allowing them to be accepted as they are, without the prejudices, brick walls and difficulties that they face daily in real life. Surely this is quite the opposite to putting on a mask, hiding who we are and retreating behind the safety that such a construct provides?
I firmly believe that a great number of SL adherents spend a huge amount of time in the real world wearing a mask of some description. It may not be a tangible, physical mask; even so it can be as effective as any facial covering – obfuscating, obscuring and protecting the truth that hides away behind it. Yet, when these very same people log in to SL, their first action is to take off that mask, hang it on its inworld virtual peg and face the Grid, unmasked and in complete honesty, proclaiming both to themselves and to all those they come across: “This is me.. The real me!”
It’s powerful stuff. We’re in control. We do what we choose. We are who we are.
Reblogged from SerenHaven.wordpress.com
Most of us – whether we’d admit it or not – have a love-hate relationship with sl. There are those times when we’d happily proclaim the virtual life to be far better than the one on the other side of the screen, whilst there are other times that we’d happily consign sl to the most noxious pits of virtual Hades. On the whole, the good side seems to triumph… or you wouldn’t still be here reading this, would you?
Even so, the way we approach our online life is often extremely polarised – in a world that manages to encompass 16 million colours, in pretty much 3 dimensions, it always surprises me that we seem to appreciate it as only black or white and that we often only see into it only as deeply as the flat screen in front of us.
When our shoes fail to rez, or we find ourselves waiting impatiently for buildings to form from grey spheres… when the audio stream stutters… when the TP fails, for some reason, rather than treat these as the minor irritations they really are, (and yes, they really are just minor irritations, even if they happen umpteen times in a session), we slide the self-pity control up to 11 and behave as if it’s the end of the world. Our reaction tends towards what would possibly be appropriate if someone was petrol-bombing our granny, when really it should be, ‘Oh dear, i’ve been logged out in the middle of listening to a song that i’ve heard a million times before, whilst surrounded by my friends with whom i’ve spent the last hour talking utter bollox nonsense. i’ll just click this button and log back in…’
When things go wrong we rant and we rave about how Linden Lab couldn’t organise a gangbang in a brothel and how their creaky, cardboard and duct tape viewer is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, blah, blah, blah! And deity forbid that a new feature should ever be introduced that might possibly make our inworld experience better… that’s guaranteed to ruin sl forever!
We lose all sense of perspective – what we never do is consider, for example, how much time we’ve spent in sl in the past week, against how much time it’s gone wrong in that time. Here’s a little equation for you to consider next time you fancy a moan…
x/y * 100 = z
100 – z = H
x = number of hours i’ve been logged in this week
y = number of hours sl has been borked for me this week
z = permitted proportion of outrage you’re permitted to feel entitled to
So, if i’m logged in for 20 hours this week, and if i add up all the unsatisfactory minutes that sl passes my way in that time… say 30 minutes, tops; my outrage factor is:
0.5/20 * 100 = 2.5
Which brings me to ‘Factor H’ – the Happiness Factor, (also known as ‘Yay! Capacity’), and in this example, Factor H is a massive 97.5 – so, how come it’s always the measly 2.5 micro-measures of outrage that i’ll inevitably dwell on?
i’ll be honest with you, in the past couple of weeks, my inworld experience has been that of living on Planet Happy. Fooling about, taking pictures, exploring and generally having a whale of a time have been the order of the day, and it’s been blooming good fun! Yes indeed, there were crashes, glitches, bake-fails and the occasional lag-induced walking off into the virtual sunset, but i couldn’t actually give squiddly-doodle-squat about any of that nonsense, because on the whole, my Factor H levels were far more important to me! My bucket was full, i knew where my cheese was and my Tao was full of Pooh.
Here’s the thing: sl is no different to rl in many respects – we just think it should be. If you wander round in rl looking for problems, you’re going to find them, surprise, surprise! Worse, the more problems you find, the more they’re going to bog you down and screw you up. Then again, there’s those immensely irritating people who can always find humour in a disaster, beauty in a mass of rubble and sunshine on the crappiest British summer’s day.
Guess which i am.
SL will never work properly or perfectly… rl never does, and we’ve had more practice at that! Besides which, it runs on computers, need i say more? So, what’s the point of dwelling on the teeny, weeny crapsicles that occasionally – or even frequently – strew our virtual footpath, when we may as well grin and bear it, and get on with the serious business of simply having fun?
But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas!
But it’s all right. Im jumpin jack flash,
Its a gas! gas! gas!
The Rolling Stones – Jumpin Jack Flash
Reproduced from NowChangeYourLife.wordpress.com
I come across gems in second life. I think it is the blues community, nice thinking.My fav blogger is Serendipity Haven (serenhaven.wordpress.com)who writes little stories that are so informative and entertaining. Highly recommended. AND not just for second life users either. I have blogged about her before. Read her latest offering, its very informative.
Take my partner, she has an awesome job that keeps her very busy but she spends much of her spare time with me. In her “spare” time she is a poet and has her own site. JessikaJenvieve.com fabulous poetry. Heres one she wrote for me:
It is Best
You wanted a love song
I don’t have the words
Cordelia – like, I have nothing to say
but it is inside,
I just can’t put my finger on.
You want forever and I want you to tell me
the pain in my head won’t kill me.
I want you to make my tea and a cheese sandwich.
I don’t want words, I want silence.
There’s a tangle of lyrics out there
waiting for me to catch my foot in them.
Pick the wrong one and you will fire up again.
Say nothing, it is safe.
It is best.
“I’m a mature socialite cougar 60 k living in millionaires paradise” she says on skype……Love her sense of humour. We get on so well and are partners in second life, the online community. We spend a lot of time chatting to a background of the blues. Here you can see us dancing. At the top right are private messages bottom left are local messages.
While hosting (a host manages the dj session greeting people and providing help like joining the group) I met a person who was fun to chat to, who I hadn’t met before. She too has a blog and this is what I found:
We seem to think that big events and weighty, important conversations make the bulk of a relationship. Yet .. it’s chatting of little nothings .. how spring air moves and caresses across the face .. picking dandelions and sending them off to seed other places .. or sharing two blades of grass with a friend and trying to make a blade-of-grass kazoo together.
Lobbing nonesense words and silly verses between us .. twirling and feinting at nothing .. nothing moments are what I miss.
If you are the very best of friends with me, I will fill you with letters of little nothings.
Her site which she hasn’t updated in a while is http://vixenquandry.wordpress.com/
One of the things people love to do is take photos in second life it is very photogenic. So here is a gallery a person I met in a European blues club. Name of Schlock who has a wonderful talking parrot called Clyde with, i would say, artificial intelligence!!!!
Heres the gallery, sorry missed Clyde but i sent Schlock an email coz he should have a blog!!
Then another person with a site http://www.deadmonkeysociety.org/writtenword/index.html the front page looks like this:
All this is just a taste of the variety of people that you meet in second life. It is a community of intelligent diverse people. Possibly it is the blues community as this is all i have experience of. I am still exploring and have lots to learn. I will have been in second life for a year. Yes I am addicted.
Its not a problem
Here is a picture of my Storm Constantine (aka Jessika) we have known each other for six months and we decided to partner. This means we have made a commitment to share and cherish each other. It may be likened to a marriage, the “ceremony” was an email and now we appear in each others profile.
There is a wonderful thing that happens in second life. You become one with your avatar and truly your avatar becomes an extension of yourself. when you join with another avatar like in a dance something magical happens. You begin to feel with your avatar. Holding your partner becomes as though you are holding a real person and in some ways you are. It feels real. You can get incredibly close to someone. It starts in chat. As in anywhere / place chatting to someone brings you close to that person. We have chat in secondlife. However how do you explain a kiss producing a physical response in real life? Second Life is awesome. I can only suggest you try it for yourself. If you need a decent avatar let Avatar Creations know and we will make you beautiful.
It came as a shock to me when I discovered what I was seeing on screen was not what others were seeing. I just don’t mean mesh. Not everyone is running at 1920 x 1080 most are on a laptop it seems. Then in the viewer you have settings from low through mid and high up to ultra with shadows. On top of this we have draw distance which will determine the background. In my circle these days nearly all can see mesh but this was not the case three months ago. It struck me that one of the reasons I made videos (311 on YouTube) was because I wanted everyone to see what I was seeing in Glorious Wide Screen Technicolor® . Before we look at individual implications let us note something. Soul Mods. Given the vast area of accoutrements and textures available in second life one would be hard pressed to find lino. When I first visited Soul Mods and saw wine bottles on the dance floor I thought they were temporary. I also noticed less than half the available space was being used. It was cramped. BUT mes amies in the real world is not your favourite club a bit down at heels? a bit cramped BUT where you feel at home? If Soul Mods had a makeover that burn in the bar stool that you have picked at when you are feeling a bit down would be gone. BUT its not just familiarity it is Atmosphere. Buy that in Market Place. Capture that on video. Well maybe.
So : What is onscreen is not real, it is highly dependent on your equipment. Environment whether pleasing or not is mitigated by an intangible atmosphere. How then do I find you “pleasing” or them “agreeable”. So far I have been approached by women with the favourite pick up line “I love your profile” or “What an interesting profile” and I admit to doing it myself. However there have been numerous instances where after an hour or even several I have remarked “I must look at your profile”. The killer ap is Social Interaction. It has to be.
“yes darling, undo the hooks at the back. Now feel my soft silk panties around my suspender belt…….” so says the 50 something fat blowsy housewife, in curlers, dressed in housecoat and slippers, fag hanging out of her mouth, frying chips, giving phone sex.
Reality is what I imagine it to be. On a physical level “Look at that Jade necklace” I am colour blind with shades of green. If I am in a bad mood a smile is seen as a grimace, a good mood the child that drops ice cream on my trousers “a scallywag” . In second life as in real life we have two personae. One public one private. Then we have Seren my nemesis bete noir and mentor. her public face in second life does not equate with her public face in real life. So I’m fucked. Or am I? Put Madame Haven down in somewhere like a real Soul Mods with her mates and she would act EXACTLY the same.
Behaviour is dependent on the environment which is ultimately dependent on social interaction. AND how I perceive it. I think the perception thingy goes a bit further in second life. You may be a half naked blob but above your head it says “Dude”.
Call me, lets have phone sex (cough cough)
P.S. Here is my updated PDF on Cyberculture