Just returned from Las Vegas, Nevada. *laughing* IS there any other Las Vegas???? Saturday night was spent at the Fremont Street Experience. Fremont Street was the original “strip” in Vegas before the current strip – with all the amazing theme resort casinos. Fremont Street has Glitter Gulch. The Golden Nugget. Tony Roma’s. Now a 5 block stretch of Fremont is covered over with a huge arch which hosts an incredible light display every hour. There are music stages in the street, vendors, drinks, casinos, lights, food, and people EVERYWHERE in the street. People dancing in the street. Drinking in the street. Taking a million pictures in the street, because there are dozens and dozens of denizens dressed in costume. The tourists are dressed in a complete spectrum from bathing suits to full coverage and the costumed regulars – well – let your imagination run wild. I loved it. It was when the 2 furries passed me that I realized why I was so happy and why I felt so comfortable. Fremont Street is the closest I’ve ever been to experiencing SL in RL. There are mostly naked people, furry people, oddly shaped people, people in every kind of outfit you can imagine, people in thongs and pasties and high high heels, people with ‘wings’, superheroes. I loved it. I walked about with a huge smile on my face, wishing that I’d had on some of my Ahuva shoes. Most of Ahuva’s outfits are way too tame for Freemont street, but I do have a few that would have had tourists paying me to take my pic with them. *grin* Oh yes – shoes….. *bigger grin* shipped home TWO pair of cowboy boots. Ahuva does Vegas.
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.
Omg. Ever since Honour has decided to go micro, I have lived in fear of her being squished underfoot. Today I joined her at a meeting and watched in horror as it seemed my worst fears would be realized. I was poised to interpose myself between Honour and an icy snowy foot of doom, when the snowcreature reseated itself. Whew!!!! And you thought life in SL was all sun and sand…. /me resolves to get a bunch of balloons to tie to Honour’s micro tail and float above her furry little head.
Birds of a Feather
I made a new friend today. Except she isn’t really a new friend, she just has a new look. Usually when Honour IMs me and says “I’ve been bad”, I know she’s been shopping. It’s usually either a skin for her or she’s treating me to some fantastical gorgeous outfit. This time, however, it was a new avatar for herself. Adorable!!!
We discussed what breed of bird this avatar might be. I rejected the descriptions of “hybrid” and “mutt” as not being anywhere near beautiful or special enough for this creature. I told Honour she needed to come up with a better story. So, she did. She is one of the long lost Gytis Birds. They are shy and don’t come out of hiding very often – so most people think they are extinct. As you can see, that is a mistake. *grin* I asked if the Gytis Birds were on the endangered species list and therefore a protected species.
Ahuva Heliosense: are you a protected species?
Honour McMillan: oh yes
Honour McMillan: mess with us and you’ll regret it 🙂
Ahuva Heliosense: rofl
Ahuva Heliosense: you carry concealed weapons?
Honour McMillan: we are weapons 🙂
Honour McMillan: we are trained from birth in wing to hand combat
So there you have it – right from the bird’s beak. *grin* A beautiful, dangerous, talented bird. A perfect description for Honour 🙂
Honour blogged that her avatar makes her smile. Makes me smile too. AND gave me blog material!! What a great friend!!!!
SL is a Mirror of my Soul
There is a lively conversation going on at my company concerning avatar appearance. Much of it started with a coworker posting the following:
having an AV can be a positive, educational experience: I’ve heard people talk about how it can be a chance to ‘start all over again’. And it can be that: our AVs may be tougher, or more sensitive, or more masculine, or feminine, than our real-world selves. And our RL selves can learn from the experience.
And one thing I’ve noticed is that people demand the use of their real names during real business events. Doubly so if they’re a ‘mover & shaker’ with a Big Name and a Big Reputation. They’d also like for their AVs to look exactly like their RL selves, too — but The Name is the important part.
At approximately the same time as this thread appeared, I was listening to a Metanomics show. Robert Bloomfield offers a Connecting the Dots segment where he comments on feedback. I regret that I can’t seem to find the appropriate link for the segment that I heard. But if my memory serves me correctly, he spoke about avatar appearance and “Are you really going out looking like THAT?”. His point was that for business conducted in a virtual world, you need to LOOK like a RL business person. That opinion is supported by another coworker who posted that, according to a survey of business people, the majority of those polled wanted their “work” AVs to have both their RL name but also look like themselves.
Interesting. I have no problem with my avatar bearing my RL name for business meetings in a virtual world. I even agree that it is NECESSARY for a work avatar to bear the RL name. I am also sure that the first person had it right – the bigger the name, the greater the demand to have it displayed. Hey – that’s life. That person worked hard (usually) for that reputation. If they are inworld doing business, then it’s important to maintain that identity that gives them status and credibility. But I am not so sure about appearance.
I am quite satisfied, even pleased, with my RL appearance. But I don’t want to look like the physical me when I am in a virtual world. Virtual worlds allow me to portray myself as I see me from the inside. I don’t have to be constrained anymore by physics and gravity and reality and the fortunes of fate. I’ve talked about this before. Your avatar appearance can change your RL experience ( The Stanford Study ). There is no question that my avatar has changed my RL persona and that I have learned a great deal about who I really am. I am making a definite statement about myself when I customize my avatar. It’s not just vanity. Or maybe it is. So what? If it’s vanity – I’m STILL conveying something essential about myself. Yet another coworker posted what I think is a fascinating insight:
“I’m almost wondering if this need for reality in identity is actually more of a generational manifestation? “
That coworker goes on to say that the current generation of youth (I’m going to say that for me – I think it’s people 30 and younger) already have developed avatars for themselves and that they carry those representations of themselves through all the social media that they utilize. I agree with this whole-heartedly.
I know that most of you reading this blog are not in SL for business purposes. But take a moment and think about this. If you COULD have your avatar look like your physical self, would you? Now imagine that in your job, your current RL job, you had to hold meetings and do business virtually. Imagine meeting all your coworkers inworld. Now what is your answer?
SL is not the mirror of my body. SL is the mirror of my soul.
Sex in SL
I was chatting with a new friend the other night. First off this friend complained about my use of X and Y instead of names. “Make up names” I was urged. Fine. Never let it be said that I am not responsive to my readers. 🙂 So I was chatting with a friend, Bea, the other night. 😛
Bea and I were talking about sex. I know. How unusual in SL. or RL. 🙂 Well, Dale already ruined my surprise – guessed that there is indeed sex in SL. There is lots of it, in fact. And you learn to take it in stride. So I know or have encountered RL men who are SL women, RL “straights” indulging in SL “bent”, herms, TG, TS, Gorean, BDSM (Hey – I don’t post EVERYTHING on this blog, you know??). I don’t think that I’ve encountered RL women who are SL men but then, would I know? And, of course, there are the non-human avatars.
I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever even slow-danced with a furry. 🙂 I know that i’ve gone rock n’ rollin’ with them. But I think I’ve only slow-danced w/ human avs. Obviously I need to remedy that situation. I wouldn’t want to be accused of being narrow-minded. And I can tell you truthfully, straight-out – I’ve NEVER had sex with a furry. 🙂 Which leads me to……
Bea and I were talking about all the different sex/love possiblities inworld. And we stumbled upon an interesting issue. Suppose Bea was a bunny av? NOT playboy bunny, silly. But a REAL bunny – you know, like Flopsy, Mopsy or Cottontail. If Bea and I were to have sex….. eeewwwww. Somehow that seemed very wrong to both of us. Now it may NOT seem wrong to you. I have no problem with that. Just don’t put on your bunny av and ask ME to, um, yeah, whatever. But what if I were a bunny ALSO??? Would THAT be wrong???? Bea said yes. You know what? I say no. Somehow two bunnies together – that seems like a beautiful thing to me. 🙂 On the other hand…. a bunny and a non-bunny, say a bunny and a dog? Wrong wrong wrong. 🙂 (In case a disclaimer is necessary here: I am being light-hearted and facetious!!!! Do NOT take this too seriously!! )
Photo credits: found ’em via google. 2 bunnies: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Rabbits_DSC00372.JPG Bunny & Dog: http://fuzzywuzzyblog.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/bn-bunny7.jpg
I’ve been blogging on the serious topics. Time for a light interlude. I want to share pictures of my friends with you. I may not be furry or tiny, but I love when my friends are. They have such fun avatars! Not only do THEY look good, they have fun toys too! And this is also a big “thank you” to my SL friends, with whom I chat and dance and float and party and shop and view art and listen to music!
The Great Avatar Debate
There are certain topics that will aways draw a response from SL aficionados. Even as a newbie I have realized that. Several posts ago I mentioned the conversation on money and economics in SL. Apparently avatar appearance is even more controversial. There seem to be two camps – the people who want avatars to be as reallife-like as possible versus the people who think avatars should be as fantastical as possible.
Digression: I really hesitate to say that there are only 2 camps. I googled the question “Are bananas berries or fruit” the other night. That seemed simple enough to me – berry or fruit. 2 camps. Well. How wrong can a person be?
Berry and fruit are basically interchangeable terms.
Bananas grow as giant herbs
a banana is an herb, aka a spice
“Spices” and “herbs” are culinary divisions
Not a simple question….The tree is an herb.
Get the picture?
Anyway, back on topic…. For me it kicked off on Sophtopia with a rallying cry of No Realistic Avatars. This generated and is still generating (as I write) comments. Those against the realistic shapes were many with reasons ranging from “you should be using SL’s tools to create an avatar that’s better, Create your digital selves as your ideal, whatever form that might take” to “it’s a LABORATORY and we should be experimenting as widely and as vigorously as possible” to “The thing that worries me is that people may be taking forms that are unthinkingly modeled after ideal FL forms” to “Can I have both, please? “. The opposing view (which isn’t so much of an opposite view but more of an angled view) ranges from “Let’s face it: [greek mythical gods, movie stars] are the stuff of myth, a lot more so than, say, a giant pink-striped eggplant with six wheels and tentacles” to “They might be trying to tell us that they are quite at ease with their atom selves” to “they might be using SL as a meeting place rather than an area for self expression”. There were many more, this is a mere sampling.
I commented that I thought that a lot of the posters had lost sight of what it is like to be new in a virtual world. Not all of us jump in and immediately drop all our FL habits and harness. It so happened that I was hanging out with a friend over the weekend. She showed me her kitsune ears and tail. I LOVE that look. I want to do that too! But when she took me to the store and I saw all the detailed shapes available – some of them creeped me out totally. And I’d really have to be in the right frame of mind to wear fox ears and a tail. It seemed like a fantastic idea then. As I sit here typing this, the whole concept of having fox ears seems less appealing. Wings, on the other hand…..
As is often the case for me, I found that Botgirl Questi’s comment really summed up the issue for me: I think people (human and virtual) can take almost identical actions for very different reasons. So from where I sit, I can’t really see anything inherently positive or negative in any particular choice of form just on its own merits.
And yet – I find that despite agreeing with Botgirl and with Chestnut I do have a certain bias against certain shapes and forms. Dale had that comment on Chestnut’s blog: On the other hand I think a (what?) milder form of judging is entirely valid; if someone looks a certain way, it’s reasonable to conclude (to judge?) that they’re someone who wants to look that way (since they have so many other choices).
I’ll accept that we can conclude they want to look that way. But where I think I miss the mark is when I judge them on the appearance. I need to remember Botgirl’s point that people can take identical actions for very different reasons. So just because I know why I would have chosen that shape and I regard that choice negatively, that does NOT mean that the person chose that avatar for the same reason I would have. If SL really is a laboratory and it really is a chance to do better than in FL, then I need to do better mentally, not just physically. If your avatar is less fantastical than I might prefer, it does not mean that you are lacking in creativity. If your avatar has physical attributes that carry certain connotations for me, it does not necessarily follow that those attributes denote who you are.
So my promise to myself is that I intend to do better with my avatar by being less judgmental, more open. And maybe next time you see me I’ll have a tail! 🙂
Post Script added the next morning:
So much for my resolutions. I was hanging out on my favorite boardwalk bench with friends. A new person joined us. I looked at him and JUDGED. Sigh. It’s true, I did. I IM’d one of my friends and asked WHY would ANYONE pick THAT name and wear THOSE clothes?????? My friend replied that maybe this was someone’s alt, maybe they were trying out a new concept. I was ashamed because of course that could be the case. Even more to the point – that scenario is “acceptable” to me. But maybe that person chose that name and appearance for whatever reason worked for them. And maybe they were sitting there looking at me thinking “Good grief, why would anyone want that name and those clothes?”.
So I’m going to have to try harder. Maybe I’ll set myself a goal. If I can go a week and not judge other, I can earn my ears and tail. 🙂
Finally – I have some time to write about skins and SL makeovers! (Unfortunately I have time because our network is down for repairs, supposedly only for an hour. But I have things to do and I forgot (whine, whine) that the network was scheduled to be down. I’d just hit SEND when – wham – no connectivity. Bummer…..
First – to all my new and very very dear SL friends – do NOT take this the wrong way!!!! Try to remember when you were new and green and fresh off the farm! I positively LOVE that you are all helping me with makeovers and tweaking my appearance and all the other delicious and fun things you are teaching me. Please please don’t stop!!!
But….. and I’m literally smiling a big smile as I type this….. very few people in RL would say to me what I’ve heard the last 4 weeks. LOL – let me restate that – I HOPE that very few people would say (or want to say) to me what I’ve heard.
If you are reading this, then you probably saw the pictures I uploaded of myself in SL. (By the way – have you noticed that I’ve stopped drawing a distinction between “me” and Ahuva?? I have come across some very interesting discussions on self and avatar on other blogs, notably Botgirl Questi’s blog and Sohprosyne Stenvaag’s blog, specifically this one. Check them out.) If you saw my pictures and blog, you know that I thought I looked pretty darn good!!! Hot, even. You may have figured out that my RL appearance is not the same as my SL appearance. More than that about the differences I’m not prepared to say. It’s fun to change appearance. Especially to change appearance so easily!
I feel good about how I look. So WHY does everyone feel compelled to offer to make me over, change my hair, change my skin, change my clothes, change my walk?? LOL. Sometimes I feel like a Barbie doll. 🙂 People give me clothes, objects and animation overrides so fast I can barely get them into inventory!!!! People are always saying – Oh you should talk to X, X is great at make-overs. LOL. Um, what was so WRONG about my appearance??? Besides no eyelashes. My favorite was my male friend who pointed out that my eyebrows were WAY too large. Well hey, maybe I LIKE bushy eyebrows!!!!
Okay, I DON’T like how my eyebrows look. Looked. But to tell me that??? Can you imagine if he’d said that to me in RL? I don’t think so. 🙂 That would strain our relationship for sure. But in SL I simply smile and say “yes, I agree”.
Having said that I thought I looked pretty good and I liked how I look, I have to confess that I think I look even better now! I DO like the skin tones and the makeup and the eyelashes (no, I CAN’T let that drop) and all that goes with it. Changing skins is as simple as changing clothes. I stood there with C & D Monday night as C gave me skin after skin. They have fantastic names – Gluttony, Pride, Greed, Lust. LOL. I asked if there were any named Chastity, Hope or Innocence. The closest we came was Humility. Quite honestly – Gluttony looks WAY better than Humility! So I’m wearing Gluttony. LOL. As I modeled each skin in turn, D pointed out the similarities. That’s when C said “Pride is just Lust with different makeup”. That is – the skin color and all were the same, but the eye shadow and rouge and lipstick had changed. But I’m still sure that somewhere in that comment is a great philosophical blog. I’m mulling it over – don’t be surprised one day to find it here (probably the next time the network is down for an hour).
One other observation that fascinates me. And it hearkens back to my earlier comments about choices people make in SL and how those choices reveal so much about our RL selves (if both the observed and observer could interpret correctly). Someone went past me today. The avatar was shaped like many people I see in RL. There is no way that I would want to look like that if I didn’t have to look like that. It merely proves that beauty IS in the eye of the beholder. And I’ve seen numerous avatars with humanoid shapes that look too much like RL shapes that I would think need, hmmm, work. (yeah, yeah, I’m being judgmental again. Strike work and write what I mean – need improvement.) So I am intrigued by what that says about them and what it all says about me. Because there’s no question that my reaction to such avatars is revealing tons about myself, but I’m not sure what. Or maybe I’m not sure “why”. 🙂
’m still extremely nervous about changing my appearance. Way back in the beginning I blogged about changing my appearance and getting it wrong and being gray and beige and black – all at once. And I’m still confused about my hair and why it disappears and I have to re-wear it. Some of it may be due to my connectivity issues (hey – if YOU’RE sick of hearing about it, think how *I* feel!!!) and some may be because I messed up my appearance during my first few days.
But I want to get myself into some private spot and swap skins and hair til I’ve tried on all the items in my inventory. I want to figure out if skins change the shape of my face as well as color & makeup. (hmmm – I have a friend with a nice beach house that I like to call home. LOL. Maybe I could go there to change. With only a cat to witness……). I want to try on all my outfits. I want to find a pair of jeans that actually meets the bottom of my shirt! I want to find the beautiful necklace C gave me that seems to have vanished from my inventory (can’t trust the inventory anymore – that’s one of the bad connectivity symptoms). I want to take pics of myself in Greed and Pride. I want to change my hair. In other words – I want to play!
And now I know why everyone in SL is always offering to help me with a make-over – because it’s so much fun!