Saturday, March 16, 2013

Identity in Second Life

Be true to yourself.


          Recently, I read Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist?  (What?  Don’t you think I get serious sometimes?  Read the book, if you’re at all curious about how we may have gotten here.)  At about the same time, I read a post on CrankyBuddhist by kimba, a Second Life (SL) friend of mine, about being an avatar in SL. 
          All this got me thinking, which is about the time Significant Other leaves the room, about identity in SL and what it really means.  Throw in the excellent movie series, The Matrix and maybe you see where I’m going. 
          I’ve blogged before about what SL is, friendship, social life, sex, and a variety of other topics about the inworld community and what it means for individuals.  Today, I want to talk about identity in SL with this post. 
          Who are we in SL? Are we even anything in SL?  (There will be many unanswered questions in this story.)  Is this even a question worth considering? 
          Does our SL self exist apart from us?  Does she die as kimba asks in her post if we stop paying our Linden Lab fees?  Our Real Life (RL) selves come out of nothing and go off into nothing (I recognize there are a variety of opinions on the possibility of an afterlife, I’m avoiding that discussion for now.)  Is our avatar merely an extension of RL selves?  This gets heavy pretty quickly doesn’t it? 
          Let’s go the other way for a moment.  Does our SL self affect our RL selves?  Do we experiment with behaviors inworld before coming out and trying them in RL? 
          I’m going to push a little further here.  Is SL another, admittedly crude, extension of reality a la Matrix?  (I warned you.)  Or, is the Metaverse  itself that extension?  See where I’m going?  (Don’t worry if you don’t, Significant Other and many of my RL friends, there are some they just don’t like being publically outed as such, feel that I overthink these topics.)  Could our virtual selves be as real or another variation of our RL selves? 
          Another thought, how permeable is the barrier between SL and RL?  Yes, we can be in both at the same moment but can the barrier be brought down?  Could something like Google Glass someday merge the two where we could coexist in both worlds?  Could being in SL be no different than communicating with someone in another RL city via phone or texting?  (I know, you’re saying you’re overwhelmed as it is without your furry and vampire friends dropping into your reality from the Grid.) 
          I’ll leave it there for the moment.  I don’t have the answers.  After reading Jim Holt’s book, I’m not sure anyone does or ever will.  Maybe having the answers would remove all the fun of our existence whether virtual or real. 
          Please check out kimba’s CrankyBuddhist blog as well as artist-at-large her artistic website.  Both are well worth visiting. 
 As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.


Tom Boellstorff said...

Some fascinating thoughts - thanks for these!

Lindal Kidd said...

Red pill? Or blue pill? :)