SL and identity
I made a statement about determining students’ personalities from their avs in my last blog entry – since I’ve never actually met them – and I’m not sure how valid it is. I know a lot of people make their avatar as much like their RL as possible, or usually with a few minor tweaks. And there’s the whole literature on identity tourism, expression of “true selves” and so on. I don’t think I fall into either category though. I went through and purged a lot of the avatars I never use. I’m now down to about 40. One of those is undeniably human (and that’s only so I can get into some rp sims that insist on everyone looking human). The rest are mainly fantasy animals, or cartoon-like animals, or animal-human hybrids. I’ve gone for albino versions where possible, initially because I thought they’d show up better (my one collaborator in SL at Warwick was visually impaired. he’s still visually impaired – he’s just not at Warwick any more) and then after a while because I thought there should be some consistency across avatars (and some means to constrain my obsession with buying new ones).
But I wouldn’t say that these reflect my personality at all. I wouldn’t really know how to define my personality. I do dress to fade into the background, and tend to withdraw in large crowds. I never spend more than a few minutes choosing which clothes to buy or wear. So why purchase a ten-foot tall muscle-bound werewolf and walk around SL appearing as that? And spend far too long trying out different fur colours? Is that some idealised version of myself? Do I want people to get a different impression of who I am? Is it just the whole dressing-up thing, which is just more visually interesting in SL than RL because there’s so much more flexibility? Or is there something within my personality that’s previously been unexpressed?
OK answering that is not really important, however I think what is interesting about SL is that it raises questions about identity that aren’t necessarily raised in RL. And maybe the assumptions about the personalities of the students that I made aren;t entirely invalid. Maybe take a look at the image for the teaching session and see if you do the same – (plus one joined later in a Batman av – which I missed).