My avatar and me

As is the case with every user of any of the existing (or defunct) virtual world platforms, I do everything in there through my avatar, which is basically a graphical representation of my real self – a graphical representation of a fairly typical woman who works, runs errands, does all sorts of chores, pays bills, goes out, has friends, family, relatives, etc. I immerse myself in the metaverse because I want to (a) escape from Real Life, (b) indulge in my fantasies and whims, (c) enjoy surroundings, settings, happenings and experiences that RL simply can’t offer, and (d) meet friends I have made here. With my avatar, we coexist in a “meta-symbiotic” relationship. She – obviously – depends on me. She’s active in Second Life only when I’m logged in. I pay the tier for the sim that is her home. I buy things for her. I build things through her. I participate in various activities and events through her. Without me, she cannot exist. And, in a variety of ways, neither can I exist in SL without her.

Through her, I express myself; I have put a lot of my creativity, personality and soul in her. One could say I’ve breathed myself into her. This is a point that I would like to expand a little. I cherish, enjoy and guard the privacy and the disconnect from my RL identity that SL affords me as much as everyone else. However, I have found out that, regardless of the appearance I choose for my avatar at any given moment, she’s really me, because it is my personality, my attitudes, my values, my desires, my wishes and my way of thinking that manifest themselves through her.

My avatar is, therefore, a manifestation of myself – and in this, I can’t help but view her in a way that’s not entirely dissimilar to the Hinduist definition.

I’ll give a little background information on my manifestation within SL. I manifested myself in SL for the first time in September 2006 and kept her until early 2008. Then I deleted that account; if you want, I killed that first avatar of mine. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the reasons that led me to killing my then avatar could even be considered silly. At any rate, I came back a few months later – by a weird coincidence, it was September again. To be honest, none of these two avatars were really meant to be “me”; I viewed them both in a somewhat superficial manner and intended to use them firstly for savouring desires and fantasies that I could not easily or practically enjoy in RL; whatever attempts at being creative were secondary and, from time to time, merely coincidental, depending entirely on my mood.

In my second manifestation in SL, things eventually evolved further: whereas my first avatar was merely a tool for me to explore and enjoy what SL had to offer w.r.t. a small set of interests that I had (and still have) and was frequently modelled and remodelled to reflect this, my second avatar, the one through which I now exist in SL, became what it is now: a reflection of myself in the digital domain and a way for me to express aspects of my personality that RL doesn’t give me opportunities to express. Finally, I have found that my interactions with others through her has influenced, to a certain degree, my views on certain RL issues.




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