Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Personality Sliders

I was thinking today about the endless discussions that arise in world and in SL forums about cross-gender avatars…you know, the people who are men (or women) in RL and choose to be a woman (or man) in Second Life. For some reason, while I was considering these debates and different points of view, I happened to think about the SL Appearance sliders, and I was struck by an Idea: what if we had a set of sliders that determined not how our avatar would look, but what kind of a person we are?

The Personality Window would have a pair of radio buttons, just like the Appearance window, for Male or Female. An on/off choice, no in betweens. (I’m leaving out genetic anomalies like XXY). But then, there would be all these other choices where you DO have a range to select from…

Intelligence          Moron--------------Genius

Self Interest          Others--------------Self

Kindness               Caring--------------Cruel

Energy                   Lazy----------------Hyper

Intuition                Feeling-------------Analytical

Insight                   Surface-------------Depth

Imagination           Realist--------------Fantasist

Spirituality             Atheist--------------Theist

Nurturing               Hands off-----------Mothering

Sex drive                Monastic------------Animal

Orientation             Males----------------Females

Ego                         Self effacing--------Self promoting

Ambition                Drifter---------------Driven

Aggression              Peacenik------------Warrior

Vanity                      Slob-----------------Diva

Honesty                    Bill Clinton-------George Washington

Integrity                   Crooked-----------Honorable

Esthetics                  Crude--------------Refined (this one has to do with all forms of beauty)

…and any others you care to put in. The point here is not whether I picked the right set, but that you can, at least in theory, describe a human personality as a series of dimensions or characteristics, with every individual falling at a different point along those dimensions. (Not an original idea, really…the Myers-Briggs personality inventory widely used in business management classes comes to mind).

Especially, note that it takes the male/female issue out of the picture. A person with a given set of “personality settings” might be of either gender biologically.

But also consider this: Society assigns roles to men and women. Don’t think so? Imagine a team of people who are going to remodel a house. I’ll bet you that the designer on your imaginary team is a woman…or an effete, willowy man who you suspect is gay. And the carpenters on the team are a bunch of big, brawny, sweaty guys. Right?

Society’s roles are more flexible than they used to be. Even so, a person with a certain set of personality scores might fit better in a male role, or a female role. In Second Life, a mouse click is all that’s needed for one’s external appearance to match one’s personality and most comfortable role.

I think the people who are in cross-gendered avatars are simply expressing their inner personalities…a good deal more honestly and effectively than is possible in Real Life.

1 comment:

  1. I know a couple of cross-gendered avatars who are open about their true gender, and I'd have to say that based on what I know of them, your last statement is very true.

    Aside from that, I LOVE the concept of personality sliders. If only it were so easy in RL!