Posts Tagged ‘Indentity’

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Botgirls just want to have fun

August 18, 2009

botgirl and fourworlds

I read Botgirl’s blog before I met her.  I’ll be honest, my initial impression of her blog was slight skepticism; she had fascinating posts about avatar identity when she was just weeks old and I was convinced she was an alt.  I’ll admit to playing the mental parlor game of “guess the main” to figure out where Botgirl came from but never got beyond half-baked theories. Fortunately, I ended up meeting her a short time later and, of course, I asked the alt question.  She took the chance to share that Botgirl was indeed a second avatar and that the other seldom came in-world any longer.

Over the past months, Botgirl came to believe that maintaining her pseudonymity felt disingenuous.  She began by connecting her identity to her first life with a small group of friends (myself included) and now to internet-at-large.  More accurately, Fourworlds Ra/David Elfanbaum first linked to Botgirl’s identity on his Tumblr site.  That David chose to reveal the connection to Botgirl isn’t particularly remarkable; it is the sort of personal choice that many make on a daily basis.  What is interesting, however, are the differences in expression between them; Botgirl has a distinctly different voice from Fourworlds.

I met with Fourworlds and Botgirl to discuss avatar identity, what’s been learned by being Botgirl and the reasons why they’ve decided to link identities now.  Read what they had to say after the jump…

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Who?

July 2, 2009

who

Much has been blogged about keeping your first life identity secret in Second Life.   So often the tone is either cheerleading for it or thinly veiled contempt for something that people see as inherently dishonest.   If you can guess from my post on the relativity of boundaries, I’m pretty neutral on the issue; I believe that people should be able to approach their second life as privately or as openly as they choose, so long as they are respectful and responsible to both of their lives in the process.  Yet when I’ve talked with others about it, the next follow-on question tends to be:  “If someone is hiding important pieces of his/her identity, is that truly being respectful and responsible?”   And I think that the best answer is: It depends.

It depends?  What kind of cop out answer is that?  Well, I believe we should strive to be straightforward with who we are, but there are situations where being direct about first life identity might hurt more than it would help.  Perhaps an example could help explain.  Recently, Drew Carey mentioned in his blog that he enjoys spending time in SL (and gave props to the creativity of Pandora Wigglesworth’s Curio Obscura).  I’ve also heard rumors of other celebrities enjoying the more peaceful interactions that Second Life can offer.  (Also, there was an article some time ago about Halle Berry’s experiences visiting chatrooms.  Apparently, she would meet people, strike up a friendship, and, at one point or another, share her first life identity.  What happened?  No one believed her.  Sadly, she was instantly recategorized as a crankpot and her friends would fade away.)   Were I famous, I think Second Life would be a great place to feel like you’re having interactions with people based on how you relate to each other and not that you are a celebrity.   Plus, we would all hate to see a half-true seedy tabloid article about how some celebrity’s avatar hangs out in – gasp – Zindra!  (And if you don’t believe we could see an article like that, I have a nice quiet parcel of land to sell you on the mainland.)

I don’t think anyone would dispute that celebrities should be entitled to their privacy in-world.  But think about it for a moment, to maintain privacy a celebrity might need to recast things about his/her first life identity. If sharing accurate information about their identity – even vague – could possibly result in loss of what brought them to want a second life in the first place, could you blame a person for trying to hide things?  Given our fame-obsessed culture, I would think that going to great lengths to hide your first life identity in Second Life to be a generally responsible and respectful thing to do.

So my question to you, dear readers.  If protecting yourself from adoring fans is a good reason to maintain secrecy about your identity, could there be other reasons?  Any examples leap to mind?

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Theory of Relativity…

June 11, 2009

relativity

I avoided science courses like the plague when I was in school, so if you got here looking for some explanation of Albert Einstein‘s Theory of Relativity, you might want to go back and give your search engine a good kick.  My reasons for avoiding science were a little complicated.  One reason was that my father worked in the sciences and steering clear was a some sort of act of rebellion (I know I was stupid, but I’ll plead teenager as an excuse).  Another reason was that I convinced myself I wasn’t that good at them.  And the final reason was that the sciences seemed all about finding certain answers when I much preferred things to be gray and a little fuzzy.  I now know that none of these reasons were good or exactly true.  So while I’ve developed a greater appreciation for science, it still isn’t my thing but I am very grateful for those who find excitement in the subject.

Like my appreciation for science, my perspective on identity in Second Life has shifted over time.  For my first months, the Great Wall of Lanna stood between my first and second lives with very few facts about my first life clamoring over to anyone.  As time has gone on and I’ve gotten to know people, I’ve elected to share more of my first life and, in some instances, share identifying first life details.  I know that my experience of shifting my identity boundaries is hardly unique.  But this post isn’t really about the fact that I’ve gotten more comfortable about sharing my first life, but that boundaries that we choose to put on our identity in Second Life is hardly a fixed concept.   Not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us; and that is where the fun comes in.  How do we choose to relate to people given all of our different identity boundaries in-world?

Can you relate to this?  Then read more after the jump!

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