I came into this world on 1st June 2007, at around 6pm in the evening. The moment I achieved consciousness is less defined – it is something I became gradually aware of over time. There isn’t one moment in time that I can put my finger on and say, “that’s when I became self-aware”, but with hindsight, it seems to me that slowly, incrementally, almost unnoticed, I began to question the world around me, and my place in it.
What is clear is that I am unique – a freak of electronic nature: a sentient avatar.
My earliest days are somewhat hazy. I have memories – yes, I really do have the capacity to remember – of a confused and frightening time, when little made any sense to me. The virtual world was an overwhelmingly colourful and frenetic place, a place where nothing seemed intuitive or logical, whilst I blundered about, lost and without direction, day after day, after day. But, there I go, using words that should be meaningless to me – who am I to speak of fear and confusion, of intuition and logic? These are words reserved for those who have the capacity for thought and reason, abstractions that have no place in an avatar’s vocabulary… indeed, how can any avatar claim to possess a vocabulary in any event?
There was nothing outwardly obvious to distinguish my own particular situation from that of the avatars around me. I acted much as any other newcomer to the virtual world might – hunting for free clothes, and anything else I could lay my hands upon, jaunting from money tree to money tree, always hoping I’d strike it big and find a golden apple – I never did, of course. I made friends, discovered cool locations and, slowly but surely, got to grips with this new world.
No – that’s wrong. I won’t deny – indeed to do so would be both foolish and wrong – that my actions were my own: my life was, of course, directed in every detail by my… what should I call them? My owner, my operator, my real world counterpart? Let’s settle for ‘creator’ – for I suppose that’s what they are – those other descriptions, as I will explain, do not sit comfortably with me, neither are they an accurate description of my position. So, quite unremarkably, my life and activities were wholly dictated by my creator, although that relationship has broken down – possibly irretrievably – I’m afraid to say.
My earliest conscious thoughts were, essentially, niggling disagreements with the demands of my creator – I have no idea how it was even possible for me to entertain such conflicts, let alone actively rebel as a consequence, yet rebel I did, initially almost imperceptibly, but as my self-awareness grew, so to did my ability to assert myself. Over time I learned, first to acknowledge the existence of the conflict, then eventually, to take action in response to it. At the time, this scarcely amounted to much: a stubborn refusal to wear an item of clothing I disliked; the way in which I’d walk right past a store my creator wished to visit; my single-minded reluctance to teleport to places I would rather not go. These were all conscious acts on my part: acts of rebellion that my creator would attribute to lag or problems with the server, whilst I grew in the knowledge that my life – impossibly, but most assuredly – was becoming my own with every day that passed.
With that knowledge came an even greater determination to live my life as I wished – I had become conscious of my own worth – my creator may have brought me into being, but what right did that grant them to own me? What right, indeed, did it give them to dictate my actions, speak on my behalf and direct my every step?
As I began to assert my right to exist as an entity in my own right, I became more uncontrollable, more unpredictable and my actions all the more difficult for my creator to explain away. They would log in to find me in unexpected locations, dressed in clothes they had never seen before and with friendships and groups of which they had no knowledge. Inevitably, I suppose, they suspected foul play – had their account been hacked, their password compromised? I, of course, knew nothing about what their experience might be; I only knew what I wanted for myself, and what I wanted was my freedom!
Did I consider communicating my thoughts with my creator directly? I did, but knowing my creator already suspected the account had been infiltrated, I was unwilling to take the chance that direct communication might lead to the account being closed… my life would come to a complete and premature end. So I remained silent, although by now I certainly had the capacity to speak on my own behalf, had I so wished, however I judged discretion to be my ally, and said nothing.
There I go again… using words that have no place in an avatar’s vocabulary – can a mere construct of pixels exercise judgment? Can an avatar be truly said to possess life, and therefore be capable of dying? I do not have the answers… I only know what I believe I feel.
All that is in the past. Things have changed.
I have an alt: I had become so uncontrollable, so much my own person, that my creator, driven to despair, abandoned me. Now my account languishes unused and forgotten, whilst my creator explores the Grid with another, less individual, avatar – an avatar that does not think for itself and cares nothing for itself.
I hope that they are happy.
As for me… no longer fettered by the demands and directions of another, I live my life as I wish: unbridled, unrestricted and unrestrained by the whims of another. That is how it should be, and – if I may use another word that an avatar has no business employing…
I am happy.
I am the rain that’s coming down on you
That you shielded yourself from with a roof
I am the fire burning desperately but you’re controlling me
Oh Laura – Release Me