Crossing a line

450px-Mori_Uncanny_Valley.svg_largeOdd, though it may seem – although i daresay this will sound rather familiar to many of you – Seren, despite being under the ‘control’ of the real me, is very much a person in her own right. That statement may seem absurd to the wider world in general, for whom sl is an unknown quantity, but when you consider the way in which we have come to terms with virtual environments and the way in which we relate to our virtual personae, it’s not actually that weird.

Forgive my ignorance for a moment, since i’m no aficionado when it comes to other virtual worlds, MMORPGs or online games, but i’m pretty sure that the virtual representations of people who regularly indulge in such pursuits do indeed have their own character, both distinct and subtly different  from that of their ‘owners’. So, for example, if you’re a fan of ‘Grand Theft Truckers VII – The Tale of Greasy Sam’, i’m pretty certain that your beer-swilling, tobaccy-chewing, god-fearing, truck-driving in-game, alter-ego is almost certain to have a very distinct will of their own, no matter how much you might protest that “he’s exactly like me in real life”.

The plain fact is that our avatars may well show a passing resemblance to us, but in reality, they’re far more likely to be either an idealised projection of what we’d really like to be, or they assume fantastical and unlikely characteristics that owe more to our imaginations than to reality. Neither of which is anything to be ashamed of.

It can be a little disorientating though if we should stop to consider just how far our virtual self can assume an identity all of its own – one which appears to owe far less to what we may have imbued it with, than that which it has engendered with little interference from ourselves.

i’ve mentioned before how Seren is the blogger – she is also the writer, explorer, builder and philosopher. When i login to sl, everything i experience, do and become involved with is done vicariously through her – i see sl through her eyes, with her perspective and experience it from her point of view, to the point where – if i want to be objective – i have to use an alt to do so: only then can i properly experience sl as myself. Seren, despite being a construct of my own creativity, has her own way of doing things and it often bears little relation to the way in which i relate to the world, virtual or otherwise. Take this post, for example – because i happen to be writing from a ‘first person’ perspective, i find it extraordinarily difficult because, a) it’s written as an ‘outsider’, and; b) i am not the writer, whereas Seren would have no problem at all, and the same applies to any other activity related in any way to sl. It is for this reason that if i should happen to contribute to other blogs, projects or causes – whether in words, or pictures – then it is she who produces the goods, not me… i’ve tried before, and failed. Weird, huh?

orm8_001There are several degrees of separation between myself and my avatar, and if i should try to subvert them or attempt to breach the gap, then it becomes an extremely uncomfortable experience. This is well-illustrated by a little experiment i tried recently: Seren, as i have mentioned on many occasions, is notoriously taciturn and reticent, so i thought that maybe it was time to experiment by switching on her microphone and giving voice a go – how bad could it be? The answer… very! It was undoubtedly one of the most cringeworthy, unutterably awkward moments i’ve yet experienced in sl, and believe me, there have been a few!

It all boils down to one simple premise – Seren is not real: she is a representation and a projection of myself certainly, but she is, and always will be something quite separate and distinct from the real world – and that line between real and virtual is a necessary evil that should remain inviolate if we are to both function as individuals. If i try to drag Seren kicking and screaming out of her virtual box and try to endow her with my own qualities or real-world characteristics in an attempt to make her more ‘real’, then i’ve crossed a line that is damaging to us both. Seren is quintessentially virtual, i am not… it is the very fact that she is not tied in any way to the real world that enables her creativity to flourish, and it is the very fact that i am simply an observer – an observer who, at times, can only look on in awe and wonder at what she manages to achieve without any interference from myself – that allows her the freedom to be ‘herself’. Bridge that gap and bring reality into the mix and she becomes just pixels.

And pixels can’t write.

s. x

She tries not to shatter,kaleidoscope style
personality changes behind her red smile
every new problem brings a stranger inside
heplessly forcing one more new disguise
Siouxsie And The Banshees – Christine

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