Yesterday Whiskey wrote a post called Narcissus which inspired me to think. This is not unusual as Whiskey is brilliant and I am a thinky kind of person but normally I have a lot to say. This time I was without words while the ideas swirled around in my head trying to gain form.
Whiskey uses the mythology of Echo and Narcissus and asks us to think about how we relate to our own avatar identities. She asks if there is a danger in loving the images we create of ourselves in the form of our avatars. Alternatively, she wonders if we benefit from the identity we create and our relationship with that virtual reflection of ourselves.
I started to think about how my avatar has changed over time, how I have changed as a result of being Chestnut Rau for all these years. When I was first "born" I considered myself an "immersionist" and surrounded myself primarily with other people who felt the same way. Back then it seemed there was a hierarchy and if you were truly "one with your avatar" how could you not be an "immersionist?" We kinda looked down our noses at those who talked about their "humans" because -- lets be honest here -- they just didn't get the power and the glory of Second Life like we did. (Do you hear the snark in my voice? I hope so.)
I remember long conversations with Zha about friends of ours who considered themselves digital people or individuals who don't exist at all outside the virtual world. These friends, most of whom "no longer exist" believed their avatars were entirely separate beings from the humans who sat at the keyboard. At the time I couldn't put my finger on what it was about the concept of "digital people" that made me uncomfortable. I cared for these people but something about the insistence that the avatar was fundamentally a different individual was something I never could quite understand.
Fast forward a few years and I guess I am an augmentationist after all.
I started talking about my offline life here on this blog. I felt more open about mentioning my family and details about my activity outside Second Life. I have not linked my wallet name to Chestnut but I think most anyone with a bit of Internet savvy would not find it hard to track down details. I am not worried and expect one day it will probably happen. I am not offering up my resume just yet but I have come to realize I am fundamentally the same person no matter where I am or how I look.
Chestnut is part of me. She is the artist, the writer. She is more introverted than I am which is really odd but that is the truth. Perhaps in my avatar form I have found the freedom to be more *me* than the world allows me to be otherwise.
Is there a danger in loving a more perfect, crafted version of myself too much? Maybe. My hope is in using my avatar to explore parts of me that are hidden from the "real world" I can learn to love the flawed human a little more.