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Monday, July 25, 2011

We Are Not What We Seem…or Are We?

This weekend it was Facebookers.  Two of them, to be precise.  One was a well spoken gentleman who asked me “Are you as pretty in real life as you are here?”

Oh, please.  I’m a very middle aged mother, with three grown children and a waistline that shows too much Second Life and not enough crunches.  Of course not, silly boy!  But then I thought about it.

My Second Life appearance reflects how I would look in Real Life, if I could.  Young, slender, beautiful, and always fashionably dressed.  In SL, I look like the person I am, inside my head.  In fact, Lindal is me, and if I was rich and thirty years younger in real life, I’d look like Lindal there too, you bet. 

Second Life lets us take off the masks of flesh that we are forced to wear in the physical world, and be who we truly are, or what we dream of being.  So I told him, “Oh no, I’m MUCH prettier in real life!”

My second encounter was with a young newcomer I’ve known for a few weeks now.  We were chatting, and it turned out that we live fairly close to one another in the real world.  The conversation was along the lines of, “I’m from Tennessee.” “Wow, really?  I’m from Tennessee too!”  “That’s amazing!  I live near Memphis.”  “Holy cow, Memphis?  I live there too!”  There was an awkward pause, and she said, “I don’t want to be impolite, but I won’t tell you any more.  I mean, I know you’re OK, but you know you can’t trust anyone.  They might be a murderer or a fat 50 year old pervert or something.”

My friend is 16 in real life, and she had a very good point.  You don’t know who is behind that avatar.  It could be anyone.  An FBI agent or a serial killer, Stephen Hawking or your brother Bob.   I told her that her caution was commendable.

I can see the point of the Facebookers who’d like everyone in SL to display their Real Life names, list their address in their Profile, have an avatar that looks just like their RL physical self, and always use Voice.  There’s an element of uncertainty about people in SL, and it’s true that many people use avatars and the lack of body language and vocal inflections to hide malicious intentions.

But there is one saving grace.  Actions speak louder than words, and nowhere is that more true than in SL.  Eventually, the People of the Lie reveal themselves in their actions.  In a world where all is subject to change, integrity matters enormously.

We show our true selves even when there is no malicious intent involved.  I’m pretty widely read, and in RL, I’m something of an introvert.  Despite my occasional attempts to be a Party Girl, these traits come through.  My partner once described me as a “sexy librarian”.  Yeah, I’ll settle for that.

In the end, it does not matter what you look like in Real Life.  It doesn’t even matter what you look like here in Second Life.  What does matter is what sort of person you are…and you can’t hide that.

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