Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some quick thoughts on illusions and personal disclosure in Second Life

Lalo Telling posted an interesting and thoughtful blog post over the weekend about maintaining illusions and the possible negative impact of knowing the RL identity behind an avatar.  The post has generated a lot of discussion and some other blog posts from Botgirl Questi and Whiskey Day

Considering that my last blog post included RL photos of myself and my family, I have some thoughts on the topic too - they feel a bit scattered but I will try to make sense of them.

I read the blog posts and comments and I was actually surprised to learn that a disclosure of a RL photo could cause psychological discomfort for someone on the receiving end.  This never occurred to me and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one.  My experience with this has been nothing but positive and only made me feel closer or more appreciative of the person sharing with me.
Do I expect this same level of disclosure from all my online friends or people I interact with?  No.  I don't want to know everyone I come across with personally and I don't think that anyone should do something they don't feel comfortable with.  In a very weird way, the longer I am around Second Life, the less I give a shit about how much personal information anyone wants to share with me.  I know when someone is being real with me or not. I don't need to see their real faces or even hear their voices to know authenticity.  And you know what?  My closest friend in SL for the past three years is a person whose face I have never seen and whose real name I do not know - and I am fine with that.

There was a time when I wouldn't even entertain the thought of showing my real face to anyone in SL or on this blog.  Hell, I wouldn't even talk about my children.  I would answer questions as minimally as possible because I was very cautious and private and wanted to protect them. After some time, I started developing closer friendships with others and my holding back felt somehow disengenuous.  I decided to take a risk, trust and open up more.  The relief I felt as a result of that was proof that I did the right thing for myself.

I blog about SL because I want to connect and relate with other like minded people.  The only way I know how to do that is to share myself.  That's just me, just being myself.  I'm not interested in avatars, I'm interested in people.  I'm not interested in creating or maintaining an illusion of my Second Life persona.  And perhaps because of my personal life experience, I'm more interested in shattering illusions of myself and who or what people think I am.  What it comes down to is, I'm just here to be ME.


  1. Kudos! I agree with you 100%. I can't imagine feeling uncomfortable learning who someone really is behind an avi (unless they're sending you creepy nude pictures.....). Great post!