Archive for the 'SL psychology' Category



The Unseen Posts

Among the bloggers I read there is another discussion going on about “real” identity versus avatar identity, meeting avatars in “real” life, are you your avatar?  My avatar is not even 4 years old and I think that discussion has been around easily 6 or 7 times in my “life”.   I am Ahuva and Ahuva is me.  I see that Chestnut Rau, one of the very first, if not THE first, bloggers I began to read has come to much the same realization about herself. I am more than just Ahuva and Ahuva gets to be more than I can be in the biological tangible world  (simply consider Ahuva’s clothing choices as a start).   I’ve met many many SL avatars and Plurk avatars in “real” life.  Quite honestly – for me – it’s ALL my real life.   One of my mentors is a biological male and is a drop-dead sexy female avatar.   No, he’s not gay, he’s not gender confused, he’s not a cross-dresser.  He had his own reasons for his avatar.  I interact with him/her.  I have no problem with the picture in my head.  They both coexist because they are both him.  And I always know with which aspect of his personality I am interacting.   Maybe it’s because for me, when I interact, it’s an overall emotional response that drives me, not images.  I don’t know and I don’t care.

Blogging is intensely personal for me.  *grin*  Life is intensely personal for me.  *bigger grin*  But you knew that. What concerns me is not the integration of RL/SL, nor is it the exposure of my SL to my RL. Most people in my RL know Ahuva, or know of Ahuva. Many people in SL know my RL information. Let’s go back to the concept that privacy is dead, that there are no secrets on the internet, that you can run but you really can’t hide.

I want to post about many many topics. I hold back. Why? Am I a coward? No. Or rather – maybe I am. But I’m getting old, folks. I’ve got a son who has reached the age of majority. I’m in what I “lovingly” call the downhill side. It took me a LONG time but finally I have absorbed some lessons. First – the way I feel today, no matter how passionately I feel it, is not necessarily the way I will feel tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll feel that way tomorrow but next year I will have changed my mind. Second – words on the internet live forever. That may not be true, but from all my knowledge – that’s how I see it. Third – We are judged by other people’s perceptions. Their perceptions can impact our lives dramatically. Fourth – words wound. I might be writing what I see as simple truth, or my opinion, but people read my words through their own filter. If they are in a bad mood, perhaps they read my words in anger and therefore hear anger and hate. I don’t want to add more ugliness to the world if I have the opportunity to avoid it. There’s a time and place for constructive criticism and my blog is probably neither.

Which leaves me with my unseen posts. The ones where I talk about the lessons I learn in the workplace: working with others, managing expectations, the effect of good and bad management, the frustration of the current economy. The posts where I talk about being a real person who is aging: becoming the dreaded grown-up I swore I’d never be, realizing what is important in personal and familial relationships, the fear of the future, death of loved ones. The posts where I talk about being a woman: sexuality, love, parenting, sistering, daughtering, the effect of full moons. The posts where I vent the judgmental views of being a person: OMG, who let that person sing? Who let that person write? That has to be the ugliest build I’ve ever seen. That is the stupidest approach to that situation. And all the other posts where I let flow my momentary anger, frustration and fear.

I feel I have learned so very much in the last few years. I owe a good part of that learning to the fact that I freed part of myself into an avatar and then brought that avatar back into me. I want to try to explain to other people what I’ve finally learned about life and love, speaking and not speaking, acting and not acting. But I lack the skill to say what I want to say without getting the lesson bogged down in the personal details of how I learned it.

I’m not afraid of tying my avatar to my RL. I’m afraid of tying myself to the wrong moment in my life. I am evolving, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but I AM changing. Words posted to a blog capture a moment of time in my life to me. But those very same words may stand as my image engraved in stone, stuck fast, all that some other will know of me. I cannot tell in the present tense what I wish to represent me in the future tense.

Or if you’d rather end on a lighter note – I’m afraid of writing under the influence of a full moon. 🙂 Which is when I wrote the first draft of this.

That Wasn’t the Test

We all know that events that occur in our childhood can have lasting effects throughout our lives. My mother loves the theater, art, museums and galleries. Her home has always been filled with art and music. I took many of the pictures for granted given that they were there before I was. *grin* But as she acquired new works of art, I formed my own opinions. Mostly I liked her choices. Until she bought what I call “that apple picture”. I HATED this picture. Hated it. She LOVED it. My good friend Sarah is also an artist. She was an artist even then. Sarah liked that picture too. Now comes the “scar”. My mother turned to me and said (in my opinion very smugly and condescendingly) “THIS picture separates the TRUE artists.” *blink* There was no doubt in my mind that I had been weighed, judged and deemed inferior. I HATE that picture.

Why do I hate it? Because you can’t FIX all those pieces of fruit. They don’t match up. Check the number of seeds. The shape. The picture was pointless (the fruit wasn’t DOING anything). It was unbalanced (not visually, but conceptually). Not only that – one of the apples had littered seeds – messy. I looked at that picture and what I saw was the equivalent of Humpty Dumpty. And I was frustrated and thwarted.

I’ve acquired a new mentor at work. She is helping me to focus on what I do, what I can do better, what I might like to do in the future. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who I am, what I am, how I work and think. I saw an article about “how to find your passion”. It described personality types and what people with those traits like to do. I realized that I think of myself as someone who fixes things. (Which, in a side note, is how my father defined himself. He said “I’m an engineer. I solve problems.” *grin* I love and miss you Daddy.) And then, the clouds parted, the sun came out, I had an epiphany.

That picture is NOT about identifying the artists. Oh my NO. That picture is about identifying the “engineers” – the ones who SOLVE PROBLEMS, FIX THINGS.

You know, that picture’s not half bad. *grin* Have a good day all! Keep adjusting your perspective! 🙂

Coming Into Focus

I try to pretend I’m not, but I am. Superstitious. Like Hamlet, I believe there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in Horatio’s philosophy. I see connections that may or may not be there. I see causal events that might not have been the catalyst. I believe in karma. The past year was perhaps one of the most difficult of my life. I couldn’t seem to reach my inner energy, to see where I was going, to see clearly.

Somewhere in the last year, my portrait in SL blurred. It’s my profile picture, taken by the inimitable Callipygian Christensen. I have had it hanging on my bedroom wall for a few years. You know how it is with things you see daily – you stop “seeing” them at some point. I began having a vague notion that the photo was blurred, but I thought it was a matter of impatience on my part – not waiting for it to rez all the way before moving on. Then I realized that no, it NEVER rezzed clearly anymore. I thought about it, did nothing. Finally several weeks ago I mentioned it to Calli. She thought it sounded very odd indeed. But we never got around to going to look at the picture together. Time passed and it was Chanukah. Lalo came to light candles and he said yes, your portrait is definitely blurred. More time.

Finally came a moment when we were all inworld with time to decipher the situation. Calli, Lalo, Oura and I stood in the room and saw a blurred photo. We couldn’t fix it. We were using 3 different viewers. All blurred. I think it was Calli who figured out that if she rezzed the texture of the photo (which she still had) that the photo came into focus. I think Lalo called up my profile and when THAT rezzed, the photo on the wall came into focus as well. Calli gave me the texture, I rezzed it. When it rezzed, the portrait came into focus. No, we don’t know why. I will tell you that I can still go into the room and the portrait is blurred. But now I have my magic charm. I rez the texture and the portrait rezzes too.

I don’t think that I have a magic charm for my day-to-day world. But that portrait has also come back into focus in the last few weeks. The energy is back, the clarity. The inner and outer Ahuva are aligned and focused. And I like what I see. 🙂

And Then I Fell Asleep

I write the most brilliant, insightful, pointed posts for my blog when I am tossing and turning, trying to fall asleep. I see the whole subject, outlined, clear. The prose flows. I have written on human nature, the difference between men and women, truth, justice, the American Way. *grin* Then I fall asleep finally. Come the morning, the page is blank. I’m sorry. Last night I was prepared to reveal the essence of male/female dialogue. Today – I need a nap because it took me forever to fall asleep.

Blurred Vision

Vision can be blurry because something is interfering actively or because the focus has not yet resolved. When I look at the future and virtual worlds, my vision blurs from both causes. This post was triggered by my reaction to Gwyneth Llewelyn‘s post “Innovation, yes, but wrong turn“. Gwyneth is one of my favorite bloggers. I find her comments to be sound and well-supported, and her tone is always equable.

I still believe that all of us will have an avatar in virtual worlds in the fairly near future. I believe that more and more business meetings and collaborations will take place virtually. There will always be a need for face-to-face. But the workplace is global and for short-duration meetings and conferences, unless we have a major breakthrough in transportation costs (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), the most cost and time efficient solution will remain electronic. I no longer believe, however, that SecondLife/OpenSim will be that virtual means. And therefore my vision is blurred from the unshed tears in my eyes. I am still unable to articulate why my SL avatar resonates so strongly for me. I am unable to identify which particular aspects make the experience so powerful. I have tried to bring friends and coworkers into SL. I’ve failed. I introduce them to friends. To live music. To building. To the ability to hold business meetings simply. Many many things. (No, I didn’t try introducing them to Zindra. Was that the problem?) But to date I have failed to convince anyone to see it as I do.

I think that not only is there something in my eyes, but I think the view-finder has not yet been turned to the correct focus. At the moment the virtual world is beset by a storm about anonymity, pseudonymity and “real identity”. I tend toward seeing the pessimistic future and I fear that we, advocates for pseudonymity and anonymity, are going to lose this argument. But moving beyond this moment, I think that the business world has still not identified why it needs virtual worlds. Because of that lack of vision – the WHY – virtual worlds still lack the WHAT. I think we have the “HOW” – we can get there. Once we are there, however, there’s little to do. There’s no “HOW”. We need TOOLS in the virtual worlds. Those tools are coming. But not fast enough and not “sexy” enough. We need tools that allow our avatars to do that which our organic bodies do: easy note taking, modify the same objects (think whiteboards, sketching). Picture yourself in an organic conference room in a brainstorming, problem-solving session. Now, imagine your avatar doing the same thing. The trick here is that all of those tasks that are seamless in the organic world need to be as seamless in the virtual. So yes, there are whiteboard tools and there are ways to modify the same object, etc. But they are not seamless to the avatar experience. The business world and LL only thought to the point of getting people IN.

Not only are we lacking the tools, but there are not enough people being encouraged and supported to envision. I state quite clearly – I am NOT a visionary. I am the person who can get your vision done. But we NEED the people who will look at the conference room I described, will look at the work being done, look at virtual worlds, and make the leap that says: ah, because we are freed from the constraints of the physical world, we can visualize the problem THUSLY. I had the good fortune to work on a project with people who ARE visionaries. We began work on such a business application tool. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the backing (substitute “funding”) to keep working so that they had time to learn the virtual worlds sufficiently to make that quantum leap into hyperspace.

In her article, Gwyneth Llewelyn says:
However, I still think that LL (and not only Rod; he’s just starting to think like the rest) is working from a totally wrong assumption: that virtual worlds with user-generated content are somehow a mainstream product, if only “done right”, and that the trick is how to figure out to “do them right”. To be very honest — and you can check it up on my blog — I used to think like that as well. But the more time passes, the less likely I believe this is going to happen.
… I’m quite convinced these days that Second Life (and these days there is nothing else that compares with SL; I’m considering OpenSim to be just a variant of SL running under open source software, of course) is simply a niche product.

I’m sad to say that to a great extent, I agree. I think that SL/OpenSim is a tool, an environment. Now take that tool and customize it to what you need. Businesses need specific business tools, specific ways of manipulating data. Businesses need specific ways of interacting. Like the government, corporations have specific concerns that drive innovation. Think of how many inventions and every-day appliances we now have due to the government needing a tool. If business took virtual worlds seriously, used them, put the energy into adding tools and applications and seamless integration, virtual worlds would have a bigger niche. I believe that once such tools are there, other people will take them, bend them shake them and leap them into the future. As that happens, the niche expands to a mainstream product.

Bamboo’s Backpack

It’s fun to indulge a friend’s hobbies and passions. You may have noticed that I’m EXTREMELY fond of Bamboo, my shoulder pet. Even if you did not notice that, Oura and Calli did. They were shopping last week and found a backpack. Hmmm. Not really a backpack, but a shoulder bag, a baby bag. But a baby bag for baby PANDAS! 🙂 They both agreed that it was a perfect gift for me. At least that is how they TELL the story, but it soon became apparent that the gift was not for ME but for Bamboo. The shoulder bag is adorable, made by Akasha Wachmann and can be found at .:-CatniP-:. or on the Second Life Marketplace.

Bamboo hopped into the bag as soon as he saw it, claiming the panda toys for his own. He also claimed the bamboo shoot but I was not going to argue about them. The bag is adorable – baby pandas, baby bottles for the pandas, toys, bamboo shoots for snacking, a little cloth for cleaning up accidents. Even a photo. ‘Boo settled right in. Currently he’s deciding on names. I assume he will inform me when he’s reached a decision. Obviously tending to baby pandas is strenuous work, so Bamboo curled up and took a nap there with them. We are having our usual disagreement about my hair. You will have to look carefully, but I DID trim the ends a bit for him. I figured it was trim them myself or find them gnawed.

As I looked at Bamboo all cozy in his backpack, I remembered that I’d wanted to get him a set of motorcycle leathers for when we were biking. I thought: “Now THERE’S a business I’ve not seen in SL – outfits for shoulder pets.” I checked out the profile for Xiant Hax, Bamboo’s creator. Xiant has the store Animinimals in world (I think I have that correct.) Xiant is also associated with Desibo! Design Studios. I IM’d Xiant to express my wish for outfits for Bamboo and discovered that Animinimals already HAS a panda shoulder pet that can wear outfits!!!! See – everything IS in SL. Animinimals panda v.3 shoulder pet can wear outfits. *grin* You can buy the outfit pack from the Second Life Marketplace. I was thrilled except…. it would mean upgrading from Bamboo to v.3. And v.3 does NOT look like Bamboo. 😦 I did try to cajole outfits for v2.3, but Xiant is in the middle of a very big project right now, as documented on the blog. That’s why the store is closed temporarily. I’m hoping that when this major project is out in the open and the store reopens, I might be able to finagle bike leathers and a safari outfit for Bamboo. *grin* That way he and I can BOTH go hiking and biking in style!

What’s in a Name?

Nothing really original in this post, folks. So if you’re bored of the discussion of what is identity, move along. I don’t know where I stand on this issue anymore. I WAS very firmly decided that there was no need to link my SL and my RL names overtly. My feeling is that there is NO privacy on the internet. If someone wants to find out all your personal information, they’re going to find it. Most people aren’t interested and won’t look, so I’ve operated under the policy of why make it simple to connect if I prefer separation.

But Google+ may be the tipping point for me. I WAS very excited about using Google+, mostly because I have developed an incredibly strong aversion to Facebook. I’m in FB under my U.S. Tax Form 1040 identity. I’m HERE under my SL identity. I’m in Google under my SL identity. I think I use my Ahuva identity more places than I use my 1040 identity.

This morning I saw in Plurk that Google is banning accounts that are not “real” names. I’m really really tired of this. Ahuva is real. I am Ahuva. Ahuva is me. Basically everyone who knows me by my 1040 identity knows Ahuva, or knows of Ahuva. There are people in my 1040 world who call me Ahuva, NOT my birth name. So what would be so terrible if I caved-in to this never ending pressure to “out” Ahuva and link her to a 1040 identity? I’m trying to think if Ahuva has done or said or been anything that would embarrass or harm good old 1040. The answer to that, of course, is that the 1040 world already KNOWS Ahuva. I’m not sure why I have to be forced to let the Ahuva world know about 1040.

I resent this a lot. I don’t see why this is necessary. I do not accept the arguments and reasons put forth by Google, Facebook and whoever else. But I don’t have time or energy to keep running around maintaining dual identities and trying to “beat their game” if I want to use a product. I believe that they are wrong, wrong, WRONG in their approach. If someone wants to do business with me, they will be able to determine who and what I am. They will not need Google or FB to “protect” them from me. If a person is so foolish as to trust blindly any person posting on the internet, well, perhaps I’m cruel and cold, but Caveat Emptor. Wake up, kid – if you’re a victim, perhaps you are to blame. And Big Brother – stop trying to tell me who I am.

Conformity is NOT a Crime

I have a friendly acquaintance – a smart, talented, passionate woman. For the most part I respect her as I believe she tries to live a “good life”. What is a “good life” in my terms? One who tries to help and heal, not harm others. I don’t like her much, however. Her passion extends to her politics. And while we actually agree on many things, we don’t agree on all things. And despite her protestations of “people should be free”, no one should be persecuted, the victim of discrimination, this woman is incapable of living that way when it comes to politics. I am NEVER allowed the courtesy of polite acceptance of my differing views. No; she harangues, argues, contests, makes faces and exasperated noises should I not agree with her point of view. So that teaches me that I am only free to my view as long as it agrees with hers or as long as I do not voice mine. Which leads me to the discussions of virtual worlds and conformity…..

Conformity is NOT a crime. It’s not a sin. It’s not wrong. It’s not bad. Keep your dismay and your disillusionment off my appearance and behavior. You do NOT know me. Maybe for ME, doing in virtual worlds what YOU consider “conforming” is me rebelling from my regular persona. Maybe my body does not fit within normal physical measurements. Maybe my mental condition is such that acting “normal” in the virtual world would astound those who know me. Maybe I live my organic life in a fashion totally at odds with how I portray myself in avatar form. YOU DON’T KNOW. Even if you know my external trappings and behavior, you do NOT know what rages, swirls, flows, twists, soars, floats, plummets, dances within me. How DARE you presume that my avatar indicates a lack of creativity or individuality????? Who are you to judge MY choice of expression? As Jesus said: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone. Oh Scarecrow, scared of a little fire??? Too much religion there? How about the saying usual credited to Native Americans: Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their moccasins.

I’m not posting links. You know who you are. Look at your avatars. Are you a sphere? Are you amorphous flashing lights? A tornado? Is your avatar repellent by “normal” standards? Do you hangout with your friends or do you go every time to meet new and different people, different experiences? Do you have ‘your crowd’? How do you spend YOUR virtual time? Are you so different than I?

Virtual worlds do INDEED give us the ability to break free of our organic lives. And maybe for some of us, we take smaller steps than others might take. Maybe what we seek is the community of souls, the togetherness of being. Maybe by “conforming” in our looks, we can break past that particular obstacle and reach to the inner core of where we are truly ourselves. Maybe conformity actually frees us to be us.

I did it again – PWA (Posted while agitated). Maybe one of these days I will learn to rein in my inner-6 year old. Or maybe, just maybe, the blog convention has freed her.

A Small World

I grew up in suburban New Jersey, within 50 miles of NYC. I thought I was cosmopolitan. I read the NY Times every day, heard NY news, heard news from Philadelphia, got papers from Wash. DC, talked national politics. Even so, my attitude toward the rest of the world could be summed up fairly accurately by the wonderful Saul Steinberg print “View of the World from 9th Avenue” (of course, NJ was MUCH larger in MY view and I had California some where out there too).

Years passed and my view broadened somewhat, but not all THAT much. Then I entered Second Life. Soon I began meeting people from all over the world. I was friends with people in the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Texas (omg – Texas????), Brazil, Mexico. I started blogging. Plurking. Tweeting. More national and international connections. Now much of the world has become personal to me. If there is major flooding in Queensland, Australia – I have friends for whom I worry. If volcanoes erupt in Iceland, I have friends all over Europe who are affected. Earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, I fear for one of my favorite musicians. Now – tornadoes.

I used to love watching the weather channel. I think storm-chasers are crazy but I do like seeing the videos they shoot. I’d reassure my son that we were fine, nothing like that happens where WE live. It all seemed so remote. Not anymore. I have spent the last week fixated on streaming video on the computer, watching the tornadoes sweep across the US. I have been watching Twitter and Plurk like a hawk, hoping to hear from friends that they have survived the latest killer tornado to move through their area. I go to bed in fear and wake up and race to my email to see the reassurances that yet again my dear friends have made it through the night safely. I have finally learned that Kansas is above Oklahoma and Missouri is to the east of Kansas. I know that Indiana borders Kentucky. I know where Illinois is located. I know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. I have even heard the tornado sirens sound through my computer, thanks to Skype.

My world is enriched by my SL life, by the friends I have made since I ventured into the virtual world nearly 3 years ago. I have more joy, more fun, more knowledge, more interests. My world is both larger and smaller because it is all personal now. *HUGS* to you all who have been enduring what nature has been throwing our way. I ❤ you all.

Accentuate the Positive

As the old song goes, you need to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. I have watched friends and fellow bloggers come under attack for their posts. Some of the responses are vile, out of scale and simply unnecessarily vicious. The pain, bewilderment and anger caused by these attacks is deep. The urge to retaliate in some way is equally strong. But invariably response only triggers more bile and ugliness. I’ve not had the misfortune to be attacked personally in such fashion. Perhaps that would change my attitude. But what I say to my friends is that they need to ignore the attacks. They need to consider the source and realize that other people reading this either already know, or soon grasp, that the attacks are false and inappropriate. To my regret, my words usually fall on deaf ears.

Marx Dudek posted on this topic, “Resisting Negativity“. I just met Marx the other night at one of her great “Hip-Replacement Therapy” DJ sets. I loved her musical selections and good humor. Now I know that she is wise and articulate as well. She has said words that are worth heeding and said it better than most who attempt this topic. As she says, do not only resist responding to the negativity, but find something positive on which to exert your energy. To me, if you do that, you triumph truly. You contribute to tikkun olam.

Write on, Marxi.


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