It's been a terrific month for explorations of digital identity, thanks in large part to the tireless and creative work of Botgirl Questi.
We had a terrific conversation late last week, in which we got at the core differences in our worldviews: Botgirl's filter is psychological, mine's political. Her Buddhist influences lead her to recommend acceptance and serenity; my activist influences lead me to recommend standing up and fighting back. I'd love to develop our dialog more; for now I'm holding back a bit as I ponder and study, and get my own perspectives clearer.
As previous entries show, I've been spending a good bit of time inhabiting and thinking about other worlds than my native SL. That led me to an interesting observation: I'm not (just) an SL avatar anymore, if I ever was.
From my second day I had an active existence beyond SL: I started my LiveJournal almost before I knew how to walk and talk, and considered LJ as much of a home as my inworld houses. From there, I branched out into active presences on Facebook, and for a while, Twitter.
When I started in other worlds, for a conference in WoW and its associated guild, before the amazing John, Rissa and CSharp made a much much better home, I saw myself as SL-me exploring a new world and new means of self-presentation.
I shot a lot of avatar self-portraits - which I think is a phase many of us go through as we try on and settle into new forms of self-presentation.
What I realized this morning, though, is that I'm as much a warrior, a baby tank, as I am a goth-pale, winged woman. Arathor's Sophrosyne is as much me as Extropia's Sophrosyne.
This summer, Argent and I had a series of conversations about what would happen if SL passed a certain point of suckage, or if we weren't able to get inworld: would we die? go into stasis? live on in the internets in other ways?
Now, my answer's clear: my manifestations in various worlds are parts of me as much as my limbs are. Losing one would be an enormous trauma, but life would go on. I couldn't maintain a full life at all in WoW or Warhammer - but now, if i lost them, I wouldn't be fully myself just in SL anymore either: the part of me that throws herself into battle to protect her team is as fundamental as the devoted family woman, the event runner, the occasionally radical blogger.
A scholar friend of mine asked me recently about the immersion/augmentation thing, and what us immersionists were up to these days. I told him I thought that the culture was evolving past that binary, much as any minority group makes themselves heard, then accepted, then familiar. And we ourselves I think are evolving: having stood up for basic respect for our boundaries, we're free to play with making them more porous, with creatively blending with each other, with our atomic affiliates, with multiple worlds, digital and atomic.
I think we're coming of age. I don't know what's ahead: my atomic affiliate and I are beginning to cooperate in new ways, and I see some of the same tentative experimentations among my Digital friends and family.
But if you see a bloody sword and battered shield on my living room wall, you'll know where they came from, and how much they mean to me.
Is your identity changing to encompass other worlds, or new relations with the atomic or the digital? Do you find your magic circle more or less permeable these days? How has your thinking on your own identity changed in the time you've been active in digital worlds?
I know I gain a lot from the experience and insights of others, and that our paths are often surprisingly parallel. I'd love to hear *your* story, in comments here or in your own space!