Simple question on the face of it, but so many possible answers:
“I’m Seren”… “I’m the boss”… “I’m the one telling you to get your act together”… “I’m your wife/ husband/ mother/ daughter /BFF”… “I’m the voice of reason”… “I’m the other woman”… “I don’t know who I really am”…
The possibilities are endless, and every and any one of them may be correct, perhaps not all the time, perhaps not every time but certainly some of the time.
And that’s just in the real world.
Coming to think of it, if I was to throw that question at you – yes you, sat in front of your computer screen, reading these words – what’s your answer going to be? Will you be the ‘real’ you, or the virtual you? Right now, in your own mind, are you Jim Smith, or Jimbo Resident, and who exactly is Jimbo Resident anyway?
Sure, you might be Jimbo Resident when you log in today, but tomorrow you could be Codeine Vella, Lord High Vampire of the House of Sanguinus, Lizzie Archibald, fashionista extraordinaire or Forgabon Resident, big-boobed and branded Gorean kajira. Each a distinct identity in their own right, with personalities, character traits and an emotional attachment to our real selves that is peculiar to each. Through them we experience the virtual life vicariously, changing our online presence to suit our mood, purpose and circumstances. We may choose to do so by way of multiple manifestations of the same avatar, or possibly through the medium of alts: each encompassing and encapsulating unique characteristics that define who we virtually are.
Who are you? – “We are legion”.
We are complex beings: This is as much true in the real world where our different roles, relationships and circumstances define us just as much as we elect to define ourselves. Mother, client, manager, customer, diner, leader, member, vocalist, priest, victim, accused, friend and enemy – we are many things to many people, and often our persona as perceived by others dictates how we act – or even indeed, how we are required to act in some circumstances – and our behaviours. Then there’s who we are on the inside… strong, weak, angry, sad, joyful, lost, seeker, realist, fantasist, daydreamer – Peter Pans living in fantasy worlds of our own imaginings, captivated by storybooks and poetry, or pragmatic realists, seeing things as they are and completely content in that knowledge. Not one of is ‘just’ or ‘only’ someone – an unchanging, WYSIWYG bag of flesh, bones and set ideas, aspirations and character. We are changeable, multiple personality enigmas, constantly redefining who and what we are according to rules that themselves may be inconstant and fluctuating.
Real life can be so constraining, though – yes, there’s room to explore fantasy and wild adventure, break the mould and be different when we feel like it, but unless we’re extremely fortunate, rich or certifiably insane, it’s usually in an extremely limited capacity. Not so in SL… set free from the constraints of reality and given an environment that is far more tangible and believable – far more ‘real’ – than our dreams and imaginings, we can be who, what, where and when we want to be, changing at a whim, exploring the possibilities and challenging our own perceptions of ‘me’.
So, I say, bring on the alts and the chameleons, the clowns and the dancing girls, the princesses, dragons, grown-ups, young-uns, vampires and small furry critters wearing roller skates, because – quite simply – we can!
And you never know, one day you might ask any one of them who they are… and they, will be me!
I woke up in a Soho doorway
A policeman knew my name
He said “You can go sleep at home tonight
If you can get up and walk away”
The Who – Who Are You