Posts Tagged ‘Indentity’

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Push Me, Pull You…

September 8, 2010
pushmepullyou

Image from saltairealpacas.com

If you know me in Second Life or have followed this blog at all, you’re likely to know that I’m prone to periods of reflection.   I’ve been nosing around one of these reflective times for a little while now; asking myself “what do I want from my Second Life?”  What has come of this latest round of thinkiness you ask?  I haven’t come up with good answers yet, but I have found myself asking “why am I here?”   If I’m being brutally honest when I answer that,  I would say that I’ve been a little like I’m Doctor Dolittle’s fabulous pushmi-pullyu in Second Life.  On the one hand, I’ve found myself affirmatively exploring all that Second Life has to offer; drawn like a moth to a flame by the creativity, people and potential of Second Life (and don’t get me started on the concept of the potential of SL at the moment, I might get ranty.  Perhaps a blog post on that will follow.)    Yet on the other hand, part of my Second Life has been about avoidance of some complicated first life issues; the sort where this is not really a right or wrong answer, but likely to have some different sorts of ache no matter the direction (and if you *really* want to know all of the details of this, go ahead and ask; I’ll share them conversationally.)   So I am in SL for multiple reasons, some good, some less good; I’ve flipped back and forth between the two several times, but am not really certain if I could articulate how or why it has changed for me.

Leaping from the personal to the general, I’ve noticed that the same is often true for others in Second Life.   In one camp are the people being pulled into Second Life; drawn to the fun and creativity of a virtual world.  The other camp are people being pushed; taking to the comfort of a digital life as a distraction.  Of course, like all generalizations, these distinctions can be fluid; one is not inherently better than the other, but certainly lines can be crossed into negative behavior and your mileage may vary.   So the question is this, dear reader, what is it for you?  Do you feel pushed or pulled into your digital life?

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Do you know me?

May 31, 2010

I’m trying something new.  Most of the time when I’ve blogged, I’ve labored over my posts, wanting them to be just so.   This post, however, I’m giving myself only half an hour to write it; just getting my thoughts down and posting it for the world to see.  I’m giving this a try because my schedule isn’t giving me much time and I want to see if I can post something without making it an arduous process.

This morning I read a wonderful post by my friend Chestnut Rau that included some of her perspective on trust in SL.  As I read it, one of her key points was that trusting people enough to regularly let them in was something that didn’t come naturally to her.   I couldn’t help but read that and think about my own journeys of trust and intimacy in the virtual world.

Initially I likened the intimacy that comes with pseudonymity in SL to meeting a stranger on a plane.  You sit next to someone, exchange pleasantries, and sometimes you find a surprising conversation where people are divulging all sorts of details about themselves that you would have never imagined.  Then you get off the plane and never see each other again.

My first experiences in Second Life were similar to this; I met wonderful people and shared surprising nuggets of myself.  But then some funny things happened; I found that I got quite good at being an intimacy junkie, looking for a fix that comes with sharing something deep with other people.  I coupled this, however, with a unique ability to keep many people at an arm’s length that comes with having a virtual identity.  I found pseudononymous intimacy to be powerful but it was tempered by my own anxieties about too closely linking the atomic and digital worlds.  Yet as time wore on, like any junkie, I found the fix got harder and harder to satisfy.  I found myself getting less satisfaction from virtual intimacy and decided to start trusting and let down the veil of pseudonymity.

The gist of all this?  I’m not exactly like the people on the old American Express ads, but I have gotten to know quite a few people.  Yet like our first lives, we recognize that a much smaller circle of people are worthy of trust.  I’m glad I decided to trust people and move toward a deeper and more genuine intimacy.  The experience has undoubtedly made both my first and second lives richer.

But what is it for you, dear reader, have you found people you could trust to share intimately all of yourself in Second Life?

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Two Times One Minus One

February 12, 2010

No, this post isn’t an homage to that musical supergroup Three Times One Minus One, but about how we keep our first and second lives together.  People come and go from Second Life all the time; it is simply the way things go in a pseudonymous virtual world.  (Which I blogged about before here.)   To be sure, the reasons people leave are many.  Things get too busy in their first life.  They get bored of their second life.  The list of reasons goes on and on and on.  Yet despite what people cite as a specific reason, I have noticed one theme among a group of departures upon which I can make a generalization.  There are exceptions, of course, and it doesn’t cover all people leaving SL but it does address a large group of departures.  Here’s the general trend that I’ve noticed:

“The lifespan of an avatar is inversely proportionate to the distance one keeps from their first life.”

Or, more simply put, the more people have to work to keep their first and second lives separate, the shorter their second life.   No, I’m not talking about people who don’t divulge their first life name, because that is probably 90% of SL Residents.  I’m talking more about the avatars who avoid acknowledging that they even have a first life.  If you’ve been around SL, I’m sure you’ve met the type; these are people that avoid sharing they had awful day at work for fear that someone might ask them what they do.  This is more about being so cautious that the person refuses to share contextual information as friendships develop.  Half the people in SL have something to the effect of “SL is SL and RL is RL” in their profiles, but I would venture to guess that the majority of them share some of their RL with people they’ve grown to trust.

But this doesn’t just apply to keeping your first life secret in your second, but also applies to people hiding their second life from their first. I tend to think that this is actually a larger group.  This is the people keeping their entire experience in Second Life secret from their spouse or partner.  Working hard to keep things hidden requires effort and psychic energy that eventually takes its toll.  Or, as one friend who left put it, “I just couldn’t keep lying all the time.”

Let’s be clear, I’m not judging here; at various points in my Second Life experiences, I’ve worked hard to keep them both separate.  While Second Life allows us to explore boundaries, create and do things that we might not be able to do in the atomic world, we really only have one life to live.  More accurately, I think it is often a process of realization that to maintain it all, one must find ways to be comfortable integrating all of these experiences together or risk burning out.

I would love to hear your two cents on this.  Do you feel you had to find a way to integrate all these aspects of your life?  Or, for those of you who work to keep them apart, has it felt challenging to do so as time passes?

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The One With Web 2.0

February 5, 2010

I have a love/hate relationship with web-based social networking.  This may sound funny coming from a regular Second Life user, but it’s true.  The thing for me with social networking on the web is that I’m just young enough to see the potential and utility of it but also just old enough to eye it with a bit of skepticism (and I’ll leave it to you to guess my age, tyvm!).   Of course, SL provided just the right amount of social interaction for me for quite some time.   Then a friend talked me into getting a Facebook account to play the now-defunct Scrabulous.  Then, of course, I got a Twitter account.  Finally, Plurk rolled around and I got hooked.  Where I’ve been active has often been an outgrowth of my second life and used as an opportunity to connect with friends I’ve made in-world.  I found that being involved with these sites stretched my horizons and let me meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise; in short, I met some of my closest online friends through web-based social networking.   And for a variety of reasons, I’ve mostly been taking a break from being active in my social media spaces.

Despite being mostly silent on my social networks these days, I do peek in on my accounts from time to time.  But there were two interesting things I noticed in the past week that got me thinking about web-based social networking again.  One was that even though it has been around for a while, all of the sudden everyone on Plurk was talking about the importance of claiming your name over on Avatars United.  So, like a lemming, I decided to go and do the same thing.  Then, someone else pasted a link to a blog about banning Fake Facebook Profiles, or, what appears should be named “Let’s ban Second Life avatars from Facebook.”  But just what did you find interesting about these sites, Lanna?  In one word:  friends.

One of the things that I have found fascinating are the different approaches people take to adding friends on these sites; some take the word literally, while others appear to view it as a synonym for contact.  At some point I will post about friending in Second Life, because I take a very different approach there.  But for now, let’s talk about friending on web-based social networks.  So I’ve been asking myself one simple question: Just whom do you call friend, friend?  Read on after the jump to find out…

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Apocalypse When?

September 28, 2009

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A Welcome Center.  Shit.  I logged into a Welcome Center.  Every time I log in I think I’m gonna rez at my home but my sim must be down.   When I was in my second life, I wanted to be in my first.  When I was  in my first, all I could think of was getting back in-world.  Every minute I’m stuck in this Welcome Center, I get antsier.  Everyone gets everything she wants in Second Life. I wanted a project, and for my sins they gave me  one. Brought it up to me like room service.

A few months back, I was hit with an idea as I watched the Apocalypse Now.  Why not try to make a version of Apocalypse Now based in Second Life?  What really put the hook in me was a sentence in the opening narration.  Captain Willard (a young Martin Sheen) was waking up in his Saigon hotel room and talking about his return to Vietnam for a second tour of duty.  The line that got me was this:

When I was here, I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.

Why did it hook me?  Because it reminded me of moments of my experiences with Second Life.  Of the times where I was in my first life and wishing I could be in my second.  Then times in my second life where I was feeling the good pull from my atomic world.  This, of course, got me thinking.  What about a Second Life version of Apocalypse Now or Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness?  (and for those of you who didn’t know, Apocalypse Now is a loose retelling of Heart of Darkness)   I found that I was thinking about what was common to those stories and linking them to SL; telling a tale of a  lead character set on a journey for Kurtz in Second Life, but going deeper and deeper into her darker places.  Done well, I thought the SL version could be a fascinating comic, machinima, blog with pictures, just about anything.

So why are you writing about an idea that you never did anything about, Lanna?  Because, just like Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, I got the mission I wanted.  And when it was over, I would never want another.  What mission was that you say?  Look after the jump to find out.

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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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What’s in a name?

September 15, 2009

name

This may come as a shock, but my name is not Charlanna in my first life.  I think it is a pretty name and it has meaning for me, but I might have put a little more thought into it if I knew that I was making a final choice.  A few months back, I had someone named Charlanna in her first life follow me on Twitter which I thought was cool and a little fun.  Yet shortly afterward, she sent me a direct message asking me why I “stole” her name.   Her question surprised me and got a hearty guffaw, but got me thinking, too.   What if my name were Charlanna in the atomic world?  Would she still think I stole it?  Or just think it was cool that we shared a unique name?  I really think her questions of my great name caper came because I had the opportunity to choose it.

Does that which we call a rose smell so sweet by any other name?  Just how much do I share about my name? Does naming matter in Second Life?  Read on after the jump!

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