The Identity Discussion.

I really appreciate the fact that VWs give so many a chance to discuss, in a fumbling sort of a way, the concept of identity.

Identity was the first thing that drew me, seems like many years ago, to Botgirls blog and then to Lalo. Whiskey has also very good points to make in any discussion apart from her amazing sense of humour. Lalo’s blog has attracted a multitude of different comments, mostly with very different opinions.

For those of you who haven’t followed, the question is whether the disclosure of RL identity alters your perception of an avatar positively, or negatively, or whatever…

I like the fact that there is such a diversity of opinion and that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or even, ‘fashionable’ guideline … everyone has their own take on the situation.

Personally, and excuse me if I have blogged this before, I do not really care much about who did what, more about what they did… let me explain. If I read a book, for example, I am totally uninterested in the author. I do not read the dust jacket. I actually have a real talent for forgetting actors names… Jack Sparrow is Jack Sparrow and a great guy… the actor’s name escapes me for the most part and who they marry and where they live is of zero interest to me. That is obviously an uncommon standpoint compared to the mass celeb culture of today, but it is true.

I am, however, totally focused on the art, the product, the manifestation of what someone does. A good book I will not forget, a great piece of art I never forget, but whether the writer or artist was a mass murderer, racist, paedophile or not is of no major interest to me whatsoever. I judge by result…. and look no further, mostly. To put this in a real context… there was much discussion at one time about Michael Jackson, [a Virtual Identity in that I had never met the person only the virtual reports of his existence]… to me he made some great music, did some great videos and could dance. I don’t need to form a judgement about his moral fibre, I just want to dance to his music. If I only listened to the music of saints I would be disappointed.

So, for me there is an almost total separation between the virtual and the real, and I like it that way.

Now, it is true that I may be curious about the RL identity of a very good friend, but so far this hasn’t happened. The one person I met in RL, Pixi Cosmos, will always be Pixi Cosmos, just as she always calls me soror. That reality is stronger for me than a family-endowed name.

This has recently become quite real for me in that I have to submit my RL work for consideration in RL shows. I use my name, soror Nishi, that is the name of the artist who designed the work… might sound weird, but that is how I see it. For soror Nishi, the organic/atomic world is only a virtual reality, her real reality is Inworldz and SL…

… but I’m happy to accept anyone’s opinion on the subject, just…. don’t send me your photo.

I forget where people live even…. and will almost certainly forget a ‘real’ name within two hours.

:))

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10 Responses to The Identity Discussion.

  1. Amen.
    I gave in to the “you really must tell us who you are” pressure and it was a mistake.
    So much for “immersion.”

  2. “just…. don’t send me your photo.”

    I really did LOL with that comment!

    I agree with you that there’s no single “right” choice where personal disclosure is concerned, except maybe as Miso learned, that you should do what feels right to you and not succumb because you feel pressured. Pressure to disclose. Or pressure not to disclose.

  3. Juanita Deharo says:

    I think you’ll find crossing the divide into rl with your avatar works better than you expect. I’ve done it so often that either identity is accepted by colleagues, galleries, students, friends and family. My two identities are so merged into a multifaceted art practice that I should probably now merge my websites.
    What both scares and interest me is the idea of meeting my avatar friends in person. This is different to knowing ‘who they are’ or even ‘what they are’. I think most people just relate to whatever and whoever is in front of them visually, avatar or rl body. I’m not sure I want to know how my avatar friends really look and smell and sound and feel, or vice versa.

  4. Moribund Cadaver says:

    I think one big reason there is no single right answer, is that everyone relates to their avatars (and faces) differently.

    The way you react to meeting the “real world” identity of an avatar is deeply affected by the kind of connection that person has to their avatar. Every person is a unique continuum unto themselves. Each operates by their own slightly different rules. Each person is a one-of-a-kind galaxy of identities orbiting a core.

    So really, you do never know what you’re actually going to think about someone until it happens, or how it will change your perception of their avatar(s) and various identities.

  5. Mera says:

    I am exactly like you. I forget names too. In movies and here. I have got some names and pics of ppl in vr and in some minutes I have forgotten them. I am not uninterested in people but I have no use whatsoever for the real identity of someone here. Here we are out VR identity, full stop. That´s it and that´s why.

    Believe it or not. But im sure you believe it as you are bird of the same feather soror. Great posting <3

  6. Jim Tarber says:

    I think your choice of using your “artist” identity for your art is the classic example here. “I use my name, soror Nishi, that is the name of the artist who designed the work… might sound weird, but that is how I see it.” The first four words in that quote say the most: “I use my name”. It is who you feel you are.

    It’s hard to describe this… my… RL… wallet… identity… Paul… the one that did not start as Jim: that identity has actually been drifting slowly but surely to my identity as Jim, not the other way around. My personality has changed significantly since my registration on Second Life, and Twitter. Second Life, InWorldz, Twitter, and other online forums have allowed me to explore my identity in an environment with few constraints, thus allowing it to expand well beyond my previous identity, trying new divergent paths and choosing which fit best. I’ve reached a kind of settling now, and as a result, Jim is pulling Paul along for the ride. This was driven home recently at the InWorldz conference, when Elenia introduced me as Jim, also known as Paul. I was thinking, huh? Who? Who is this Paul guy? I think if I didn’t have my family, my siblings and my mom, I’d probably want to change my wallet name now. But then I’d be breaking my rule of separation of wallet names from online names, letting the online services and governments easily associate everything I do online with my offline identity. So I dunno. I’ll have to continue to live with my “fake” (wallet) identity in the offline world. ;)

  7. Amaranthim says:

    I find myself agreeing with Jim. Have felt like that a long time. I think forums also can be counted as a form of virtual reality in that we interact in a non-physical form. Usually under assumed names. Why would the name our parents gave us be more real than our chosen one? More is imbued in the one we choose I think, regardless of how we came by it. Myself I have been Amaranthim about a couple of decades now and since SL am continuously surprised the RL mirror doesn’t reveal the form I am used to seeing on line.

    Our interactions with the virtual world affect the RL – I see myself influenced and changed and I know, as Jim/Paul discovered, I diverged from who I was in RL ages ago. Due to time of course, in part. But I wouldn’t be who I am today- in any world, if it were not for who I am and have become, online.

  8. soror says:

    Again some great points of view.
    I certainly feel as Jim does that I have changed. I have written before about the therapeutic value of VWs and how that new found freedom allows me to permit myself adventures of the soul.
    Is this identity search not normally something we finish with in late teens … but due to this unique situation we can continue unhindered by biology and culture… it’s an amazing gift, for sure.

  9. I agree completely. I long ago gave up trying to understand the “SL as a RL dating service” or the “I can’t associate with you unless I verify your age/gender/sexual orientation/country of origin crowd”. To me you are who I see you as in SL, RL is irrelevant, and I expect the same from those I associate with.

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