Another in my series of Why? Why do we do this, Why do we say that, Why do we make the choices we make………
The other day in SL a friend said to me that I was “smart and beautiful”. I accepted the “smart” part – you can fool some of the people some of the time…. 🙂 – but “beautiful” gave me pause. My intelligence is what it is, regardless of the medium. Intelligence, or lack thereof, tends to be revealed by communication, whether written or oral. But what does beautiful mean in a virtual world?
For the sake of discussion, let’s start with the premise that my avatar is beautiful. So what does it mean to tell me that I’m beautiful?
Does it mean that you think I look like my avatar? Probably not.
Does it mean that you think I did a good job creating my avatar’s looks? Maybe. But people change their looks/avatars regularly. And I didn’t even “choose” that look – someone gave me a skin. If you look at the before and after pics within my earlier entries, you can see that the skin reshaped my face, mouth, eyes. Not to mention the makeup. So I didn’t do anything. I am not my creation. I can’t even take credit for the design.
Does it mean that you think I have a good eye for creating beautiful things? Maybe. There are countless combinations of features for avatars. I do have control in what I select. So the compliment isn’t on my features, but on my creative talent. Or in this case, someone else’s creative talent. Maybe the compliment is on creative eye.
I’m sure there are many other ways to interpret the question. I know that I have frequently told others in SL that they were beautiful. I’ve written that here in this blog. When I said that, I usually meant that they had a created a beautiful avatar, so I suppose I meant either the 2nd or 3rd interpretation. Typically I’ve said that to non-human avatars. My friend S has 2 dynamite shapes – big white wolf and big black wolf. Both are beautiful images. F has the most stupendous set of wings – stupendous in look and in sheer size. She has obviously tweaked her appearance and she too is beautiful.
I have met many beautiful avatars. But I tend to save “beautiful” for the non-humanoid or modified human shapes. Somehow it doesn’t usually occur to me to tell a human avatar that they are beautiful. I compliment the outfit, the overall appearance. But I walk around in jeans and a top, barefoot. There is nothing “beautiful” about my outfit. I haven’t modified my basic human form. So “beautiful”, from someone who isn’t “hitting” on me, simply surprises me.
Perhaps my reaction means that I am still somewhat detached from SL – that I see avatars as “things” and not as people. I certainly don’t feel that way when chatting. I am very much aware of the reality and “person-ness” then. I wonder what will change my outlook. Will I “see” the avatars more when I can animate myself more? Will I “see” the avatars more when I know more people in SL? When, if ever, do you cross the line from seeing “animated characters” to seeing “people”? It is obvious to me from reading other blogs that many people have crossed that line, so I know it is a possibility. And not a bad possibility.
Writing these words also made me think about RL. Why do we compliment someone in RL and tell them they are beautiful, meaning their physical appearance? So much of that is not an option. That, however, is a far deeper topic than I’m up to discussing at this point. 🙂 But if anyone else wants to tackle it – I’d be delighted to hear what you have to say.