Archive for September 21st, 2009

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The Velveteen Avatar

September 21, 2009

velveteen

Margery Williams wrote The Velveteen Rabbit back in 1922.  It is a moving story about a boy’s velveteen rabbit and love; you really should have a look if haven’t read this classic of children’s literature yet.  While reading it the other day, I couldn’t help but ask questions about Second Life after the following conversation between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

My avatar is a collection of pixels that I’ve customized and there is a person with a very full first life behind the keyboard.  But Lanna also lives a very rich, but parallel life that by Skin Horse standards makes her real.  So my question is this, dear readers, do you believe that the Skin Horse’s definition of Real exist in Second Life?  Has your avatar become Real?

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