Online Identity Panel Discussion ICCMSN2008 Dr Clare Atkins NMIT
What is an avatar?
Why is this important?
What is ‘real’ anyway?
What are the implications?
What is an avatar? Sanskrit: avatara incarnation, representation manifestation In Hinduism: 10 great avatara of Vishnu Krishna = dancing sex symbol! Buddha = guru Matsya = fish Kalki = white horse Each avatar is a manifestation (not a representation )of some aspects or characteristics of Vishnu relevant to a specific time, place and purpose. One comes to know the whole through knowing and integrating the parts.
Revealing what is pertinent to that place, time and purpose
Widespread use of different avatar forms and ‘alts’
Our SL identity is fluid and matures and changes with mood, activity and experience. It is a manifestation of our inner view of ourselves unencumbered by our physical selves – a window on our ‘soul’ perhaps……?
Group membership and friends often different for different forms of an avatar
Different forms receive different responses shaping that avatar form’s identity
Expectations of behaviour and appearance become a part of that identity
Absence of physical clues = reliance on language to mould identity and make human connections
As usually unspoken things are made explicit, understanding and growth occur and changes take place
We get to know each other, and ourselves, from the inside out rather than the outside in
What is ‘real’ anyway ?
my physical identity judged by what you see ?
But that manifestion is constrained by many factors over which I have no control particularly by genetic patterns which determine my physical characteristics,and being born where and when I was….
b) my inner identity judged by what I see?
That manifestation is constrained mainly by my (in)ability to express what is ‘inside’: the feelings, dreams, angers, hurts, humour, thoughts, all the things that nourish me as a unique self-aware human being.
What are the implications?
Our society focuses on valuing the outward manifestations of worldly success, physical ‘beauty’, sexual prowess or desirability, material success, wealth etc…
These ideals created and manipulated often for money, profit and ‘power over’ us. This cheapens and undermines our sense of who we are and distorts it to visions of who we should be
Virtual worlds allows us to show others and be known by our inner identities , perhaps why online friendships are often so intense, and why our attachment to our avatars is so strong …..
What are the implications? Increasing number of people both work and play in SL They have commitments inworld and in RL (real life) For many, RL is one part of their life What are the impacts for them of their online identities? Aspects of the inner identity is being reinforced by SL experiences – transference must happen
What are the implications? Are our physical selves just another avatar, another manifestation of who we are in this time and this place and for this purpose? And if so, what will be the implications of that?