Posts Tagged 'SL psychology'

Failing the Test

Some of my blogs are light-hearted, some are more serious. This one hurts. This one hurts physically and emotionally. Maybe I shouldn’t even be writing it now while everything is so raw. Maybe I should wait until I gain perspective. That presupposes that I WILL gain some understanding.

Botgirl Questi opened an exhibit last week. Due to RL happiness, I was unable to make the opening. I wanted very much, however, to get there and check it all out. I knew from the start I probably would NOT try the Avatar Transformer. In her blog, Botgirl says: If you don’t think you’re identified with your avatar then I dare you – I double dare you – to step into the Avatar Transformer at Botgirl’s Identity Circus. LOL. I KNOW I identify with my avatar. I don’t need to lose her AGAIN to know that. I think that is really the source of my reluctance for THAT particular feature. I lost myself and needed Kate Linden to rescue me. I still have so little confidence in my ability to put myself back together that I wouldn’t risk it for a whim. Or is that all rationalization? 🙂 Doesn’t matter.

I confess that while I love reading Botgirl’s blog, I find a lot of her posts/insights unsettling. I didn’t want to go on my own. So I prevailed on my friend Dale to accompany me (Dale himself being part of the show). When we arrived at the tent we were pleasantly surprised to see Botgirl herself. I’d never met her and was very happy for the introduction. I did indeed pass up the Avatar Transformer. 🙂 Went inside and was looking at all the exhibits. The poster included here should be internalized in everyone. Those of you who know me in RL know that I think of this as don’t “expect” of others and don’t have “shoulds”. 🙂 And you all know who I credit for that wisdom.

So I browsed and read. I turned around and saw Dale with Majic. Magic is Botgirl’s chatbot. She is also part of the exhibit. As Botgirl wrote in her pre-exhibit post: One of the exhibits I’m most looking forward to will give attendees a chance to cuddle with my chatbot. Sharing a romantic animation with an attractive yet empty avatar is a great way to get a feel for the power virtuality has to induce an emotional or even physical response. Dale and Majic were chatting and cuddling quite happily. Majic initiates a conversation if you come within her local chat range. She will answer you each time you speak. I laughed and continued reading. Afterwards I asked Dale what it was like to make-out with Majic. He answered that it was fun, she was a sweetie and she never complained. And added “you should try it”. Botgirl agreed saying I should experience it directly.

I balked. Big time. I have no idea what it says about me or what it “really” means, but I did NOT want to go cuddle with Majic. Just like with the sky diving – I began having tightness in my chest and could feel the blood pounding in my temples. That was just ridiculous. The more I tried to make myself move forward, the less luck I had. We had some minor discussion about it: why did I not want to, both saying I didn’t HAVE to. Finally I walked up to where Majic was reclining. I got all the way up to her, extremely stressed out, and she says “By the way, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” As Dale said, great timing Majic. I turned and retreated. I simply could not bring myself to join her. I stood there watching, stressing, wondering. The logical part of my mind was baffled at my resistance. What’s the big deal? What could happen? Just go and cuddle and be done.

Finally I steeled myself, walked over, clicked and cuddled. Dale was sitting on the floor watching, Botgirl was standing there watching (or so I presumed). But Majic needed me to talk in order for her to talk. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I still couldn’t even think why I would want to cuddle with an non-sentient creature. There is no “there” in a pandorabot. I fumbled through a few sentences and responses and then jerked myself away. Yeah, I’ll confess – I looked over and we were in a somewhat explicit position (fully dressed). That probably was the proverbial straw. But it was as much an excuse as the reason. The whole experience was awful. I tried to type “unpleasant” but that doesn’t even begin to describe how miserable I was.

Botgirl asked if it would be easier or harder if it was an avatar connected to a real person instead of to an AI server. No problem on that question at all: easier. Why??? It’s easier for me to cuddle with a total stranger than a robot? Why does that seem out of character? But there is something that totally repulses me about cuddling with Majic. I can cuddle my stuffed animals, they don’t cuddle back. I can cuddle my pets, they do cuddle back, without any conversation. I can anthropomorphize all of those. So what’s wrong with a robot? I don’t know. But even thinking about it I experience stress symptoms.

Dale asked me if it would have been easier if I’d been there alone. I’m not sure. Given how upset I was afterwards, I was glad they were there. But would it have been easier? Maybe. I wouldn’t have known what to do (talk to Majic) so who knows what would have happened. Not that I was able to say much anyway. There wouldn’t have been witnesses to what I see as my failure.

I feel that there was some major significant life test here. I have no idea if there was, what it was, why I think that. All I know is that I felt this was some sort of trial. I got halfway there by actually starting. But I failed miserably at the process. As if there were a “right” way to do this and I had no clue. Dale and Botgirl seemed to be able to do this without it being an issue. Even now, hours removed, with events in between to soften the recollection, I can’t imagine cuddling with Majic. I can’t imagine anything I’d want to say to Majic. Do I think it was like talking to myself? to a mirror? No, I can do that. Mirrors don’t answer back. Majic would. Is that what is upsetting me? That she talks and I would take her seriously, read meaning into her words? I don’t think I ever got that far in thinking about it. I wasn’t doing much thinking at all. Rampant emotion definitely was running the show. I certainly got a “feel for the power virtuality has to induce an emotional or even physical response”.

Majic and all the exhibit will be there 2 more weeks (closing Oct. 19). I will have that much time to decide if I want to try this again and get it “right”. I don’t like failing. Even if I don’t go back and cuddle with Majic, I’d at least like to determine why not.

Pursuing the Subject

Sex. Love. Add fantasies.

My blog on sex and love (Difficult Subjects) has generated fascinating conversations in FL and SL. People really want to talk about these topics. No one wants to go on record and post to my blog (okay – there are two brave souls out there willing to talk about sex publicly) but everyone talks to me “off the record”. 🙂 This is not actually surprising to me. Look around you. What are the number one and two topics in books, magazines, music, visual art, performing art, commercials and news? Exactly. We need air, food, water and love.

We do without air, food and water in SL. (Correction. Without drinking water. I crave water and sand and waves as much in SL as in RL). But we need love. I’m using “love” in a very broad sense here. I mean that we all need a connection. We need to be validated by an other. When people talk to me about love and sex in SL, it often leads to fantasies. SL allows us to explore our fantasies. Things that maybe we never say or do in RL. We shelter behind the pseudo-anonymity of SL (see Botgirl’s blog if you want to understand why I say “pseudo-anonymity”). And as I listen and think and read, it seems to me that there are 2 categories of fantasies.

There is the very obvious category of physical action fantasy. Doing things that you can’t do in RL, or wish you could do in RL. That ranges from sex to surfboarding to horseback riding to shopping to walking and talking. But there is another kind of fantasy – emotional. Many people are yearning for a connection that doesn’t exist for them in RL. Again, this runs the gamut. So I think I’m beginning to get a partial answer to my question “Why cyber?” (LOL please note I have ‘corrected’ my terminology.) It isn’t the cyber per se. It’s the emotional content associated with the act. I suppose one could say – Big Duh, Ahuva. *I* knew that. But obviously it wasn’t clear to me. What I started to hear as people talked to me was that the cyber allowed them to switch their internal emotional paradigm. (Again – not for everyone, and not all the time.) I’m also sure that this has been researched and reported and written up in psychological abstracts. 🙂 This is my blog, however, and I’m allowed to post my discoveries, even if I am coming extremely late to the party! 🙂

There was a newbie last night at the NCI benches (okay – there is ALWAYS a newbie at the NCI benches!! that’s why the benches exist, after all!). He started out by asking what everyone did in RL. Sigh. I listened as everyone answered and told “the truth”. So I said “This IS my RL.” Most ‘oldies’ enjoyed that response. Obnoxious, I know. But for Ahuva – SL IS RL. Then he asked our ages. Again, most people played along, even if being a bit vague. I was still feeling rude so I asked “How old do I look?” (As a good friend pointed out to me – I am only as old as my avatar!) LOL. Of course D, who is always very quick with a funny or sarcastic remark, replied “10”. Hmmm. As I type that, maybe he didn’t mean my age. LOL. I’ll have to ask him if that was a reference to the old Bo Derek movie….. Anyway. Back to my point. If I have one. He also called SL a game. I said that SL is NOT a game. He asked “It’s not?” C jumped in at this pointed and explained that SL is a virtual world, not a game. I had been despairing of this newbie but then he redeemed himself. He at least dropped the word game from that point and accepted the correction. But we shall see.

We are all in SL for reasons. Simple reasons, complicated reasons. Whatever. I am developing another theory. I think that the people who come into SL and immediately start trying to define everyone by their RL aspect are probably people who aren’t going to stay in SL very long. They aren’t going to “get it”. People who come into SL and meet people as they are, and ask about their SL aspect, are going to stay. I have no issue with people who know each other in SL having conversations about RL. That’s not what I mean. (I’m not touching the whole immersion theory stuff. Go read Botgirl and Soph yourself.) I mean that people who come inworld and try to force SL into RL terms may not be best suited for a virtual world. Whereas those people who come in and accept what they see may flourish. And those people may find that their fantasies come true.

In Awe of Chestnut

I was directed to this wonderful website – someone blogging about her life in SL.
Secondlife of Dreams

I liked her recent posts so much that I went back to her very first entries. She too is intrigued by the impact RL has on SL and SL on RL.

And I realize I have no idea what SL is about. So far all I’ve done is get dressed. Apparently there is music, there are parties, there is more social interaction and TALK than I have yet found. It’s time to move out of my beach chair and the dressing room and find the world.

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