Back in the dim, distant past, i think i probably subscribed to the SL=RL camp to a certain degree – it certainly felt that way to me but, then again, those were the days when i was still finding my sl feet and didn’t really understand my virtual identity terribly well.
As time has passed, the tangents upon which my two lives travel become more apparent. Yes, there are certainly points of convergence – more likely to occur when i’m in the company of those that i’m close to in sl – where i can still say that my rl and sl personae are pretty much indistinguishable but i’m also coming to recognise that my SLife follows a path all of its own, which can be singularly at odds with the person sat on the rl side of the keyboard.
Ask anyone who knows me fairly well in sl and they will tell you that i’m a sociable, outgoing person, who enjoys being in the company of others, occasionally dresses outrageously and uniquely and spends an inordinate amount amount of tearing around on motorbikes, pulling stunts in helicopters and burning rather a lot of rubber, courtesy of my vast collection of sports cars. The reality – that is, the other ‘me’ – couldn’t be further from what you see in sl.
Motorbikes terrify the ‘real’ me… many years ago, i had a the dubious pleasure of riding pillion on an uncle’s motorcycle – whilst he tore around the countryside at about a million miles per hour, i hung on in the certain knowledge that i was about to die horribly, my mortal remains scraped from the road by a policeman shaking his head and muttering something along the lines of, ‘these kids never learn’. The thought of actually riding one of those machines for real is not something i could ever see myself doing – no matter how much i might enjoy tearing down the road like a bat out of hell in sl – heck, i can’t even stay out of trouble on a pushbike!
So, let’s forget the motorcycle: How about my sl obsession for 4-wheeled mean machines; does that bear any relation to the rl me? Well, not a great deal to be honest – much as a flashy sports car might be an object of rl desire, i’m far too practically-minded for it to ever be a serious option, even if i could afford it! Just think of the cost of insurance, fuel and repairs and i’d be way too scared to ever put the pedal to the metal, because i know i’d end up wrapped around a lamp post or attracting the unwelcome attention of the boys in blue. Besides, have you seen the lack of space in those things? Where on earth would i put the shopping?
Forget the sl petrol head then – there’s little resemblance there to the real me; instead, let’s think about the dress sense. Whilst in sl you’re quite likely to find me dressed something along the lines of some of the more eclectic inhabitants of Camden High Street, it’s a very different story in rl: No, you won’t find me in a glowing catsuit, sporting dramatic tattoos and a bright green mohawk in rl, quite the opposite, in fact – i don’t draw attention to myself and, even at my most riotous, i’m unlikely to be noticed in a crowd.
The plain fact is, in rl i shy away from the limelight and from overt expressions of individuality. And there you have it, perhaps the most noticeable difference – whereas in sl i’m a social animal, always in the thick of things, with something to say and a presence that certainly isn’t shy and retiring – the rl me is the complete opposite… certainly not the life and soul of the party, in fact i’ll avoid the party altogether if i can. i don’t seek attention, or draw it to myself, preferring to fade into the background and let others hog the spotlight – i’m quiet, withdrawn and avoid social interaction, almost to the point of being anti-social – in every sense, a very different person from the virtual me.
Jeckyll & Hyde? Perhaps not so extreme but certainly, once i login to sl a strange and inexplicable change comes over me and i’m not the same person – or am i? Is the virtual me such a different person or is it just another facet of my character that, for whatever reason, feels no need to express itself in the real world?
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test
David Bowie – Changes