Transpositions: 2

inforWe take for granted that wholly indispensible tool which accompanies us everywhere in sl from the very first day we rez: the public profile.

Indeed, we’re getting used to creating profiles in the real world where it seems you can’t subscribe to a website these days without having to create a mini resume for yourself – and they do perform a useful function. Whether we’re selling ourselves to a potential employer or romantic attachment, or simply hoping to connect with like-minded people, profiles can form a very useful means of introduction. Let’s not forget that they also provide a wealth of information to advertisers, site hosts and traffic trackers – in fact, they’re probably more useful to those hidden website crawlers and spies than they are to us!

Even so, there’s a big difference between a profile we choose to share with a specific, targeted audience and the profiles we attach to our sl identities, which can be viewed by anyone inworld, friends and total strangers alike.

What if the real world imposed upon us a requirement to display our full name – visible to all – above our heads at all times? Anyone who’s ever been required to wear a name badge as a requirement of their job will know the discomfort of giving complete strangers the advantage of knowing who you are, whilst you know nothing of them. Take it further though and give the world access to an sl style profile, and the discomfort level steps up several notches.

mine_001To give us publicly-accessible real world profiles would be an advertising executive’s wet dream, and the consumer’s worst nightmare come true, but quite apart from that, it would be a huge challenge to our sense of privacy, security and integrity. If you knew that your friends, family, employer, people you pass in the street and complete strangers at a distance had access to your personal thoughts, interests and social groups, favourite people and places, age and relationship status, what would you choose to put in your profile – indeed, what would you feel safe to put in it?

There’s always the option to leave things blank, of course, but in a real world setting what sort of message does that give out? Hopefully, we’d imagine it to say ‘none of your business’, but it’s equally likely it would be interpreted as: ‘i’ve something to hide’; ‘i’m antisocial’; ‘i’m boring’, or, ‘i’m lacking in some way’ – none of which are positive messages, and a blank profile could be as damaging to us as a statement that we nurture romantic attachments with gerbils! The world is very good at reading between the lines, even when there are no lines to be read between, and any profile omission is tantamount to carrying a banner around with us that screams, ‘i am a sexual deviant with no social skills and a criminal record!’.

So the smartypants among us would painstakingly craft a profile that doesn’t come across as overtly trying to avoid saying anything questionable, but provides information on a strictly ‘need to know’ basis – which begs the question, exactly what do people around us need to know? Who really needs to know our name, age and if/to whom we’re partnered? – yet we can’t hide that information, even if we want to. Not that it really matters – even the most expertly put together profile is entirely subjective… say you’re into a particular genre of music and people will instantly typecast you, and if you’re age doesn’t correspond to the sort of music someone of your age ‘should’ enjoy, well they’ll just draw their own conclusions. As for groups and acquaintances… people are just going to go digging the dirt: you may be whiter than the most pristine first fall of snow, but if a friend you quote or mention in your profile happens to have the faintest blemish on their character, or the members of one of your groups have dubious leanings, you’ll be tarred with the same brush. If this is the sort of company you keep, then what on earth are you keeping to yourself? As for hiding those groups… well, we’d all know what that meant!

crystal ball_001What about profile picks? If you work in retail, you can forget bigging-up up your favourite competing store. Those clubs you frequent – make sure you read the descriptive blurb: any mention of poles, BDSM or ‘private rooms’ is going to tarnish your character. As for mentioning friends in picks: forget it – you dare not miss one out in sl, imagine what it would be like for real!

No: profiles, for all their worth in the virtual world, would be a complete disaster in the real world – an unwelcome intrusion and a dangerous resource for both the unscrupulous and the unthinking – but, if we did have to have them, i wonder how many of us would have just that one brief line on the ‘Second Life’ tab…

‘My sl and rl are separate – i never mix the two.’

s. x

You’re you, you do what you do, 
But there’s a rain cloud hangin over you.
I’m me, who else could I be?
If they turn around then I walk away.
Twisted Wheel – We Are Us

This entry was posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, Serial killers. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Transpositions: 2

  1. This is a fascinating series of posts, Boots! I’ve often talked about the advantage an avatar has in striking up conversations when able to have a handle on which to introduce yourself to a stranger–or take the hints given in a profile and walk the other way. Of course, there is a question of how many avatars really bother checking a profile before approaching another avatar as well as those who don’t bother to do a profile. I wonder in first life, however, if there would be some usefulness to profiles.

    Way back before changes in 2007, SLers were able to boost the reputations of others–I’m vague-ing out on how exactly this was done but I can remember some of my from-the-beginning colleagues bemoaning the loss of that system. On other virtual platforms, we can see the rise of clever YouTubers who gain a following by risking being known. I can’t name them right now but thinking of two young women who have turned their fashion-oriented vid-blogs into blossoming careers.

    Putting the information out there is risky but playing safe in first or second life isn’t always an optimal choice. I can avoid hurting myself by not caring for anyone, or I can risk that pain by declaring my feelings and letting the chips fall where they may.

    And BTW, where did you get those stripey slacks?

    • Thanks, Pay. Maybe i like to play safe a little too much, and that colours the way that i see things – you’re absolutely right that there are those for whom being in the public eye holds no fear, and i’m sure they derive a great deal from it, however it seems to me that the nature of these things is such that there is little, if any, middle ground. We either accept and welcome being in the public eye, or we shrink from it completely and that, to me, is a situation that leaves much to be desired.

      You make a good point about how profiles can aid us with introductions – a profile can give me a great deal of insight into someone, before i even talk to them, however one thing i’ve learned is that it’s all too easy to be mistaken or to take a person’s profile as their defining quality, when the real person may actually be very different.

      As for the outfit – trust you to come up with a question like that… you know i’m no fashion blogger! They are Axem Aabye’s Matrix Denim Jeans – on the Marketplace at or his store at

      s. x

What do you say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.