Monday, June 15

Our virtual selves

Hi, my name is Phedre.

For over four years now that is name. It is kind of weird how things come to pass. A spur of the moment decision when I signed up at GameAmp gave me that name. It was not the name I had been using during my gaming life before that. I used to use the name sidhe. I didn't even know it's real meaning. I had picked it up from a commodore64 game called Tir na nOg. It was a very weird game in which you wandered around aimlessly and once in a while a monkey would walk into screen and it said at the botton of the screen "sidhe!". Since that game was so weird and obscure I thought I found a very unique and never used name. Only until the internet really opened up I found out it was not so unique at all, but a rather common word/name in the fantasy world. So when I wanted to comment on something related to an inv/ss tanker on GameAmp I picked the name of the inv/ss tanker I had created in city of heroes. In the months after signing up for my first ever active forum the name Phedre had changed from the name of my in-game character to the name of the virtual me.

One of the problems of the internet is anonymity. Nobody really knows who is behind the avatar, so you can spew out anything you want since nobody can touch you. This mentality brought forth a lot of very annoying people. But fortunately not everybody is like that. In fact, the same anonymity is probably the strength of the internet. We don't know each other, so we are not judging each other on appearances. But in stead we do it based on what we say and do with our virtual selves. This means we make up our minds about the people around us based on what they have to say. That is pretty amazing!

So does that mean we get to see the real persons, even more so than when we would meet that same person in the flesh? I don't know. For a big part we are simply who we are. So anything we say or do in a virtual world must be a reflection of that. But even our virtual self must have appearances. To some extend we are blocking out some of ourselves and act as others around us think we would act. We are sort of roleplaying our virtual self. Just like I am role playing a different me when I am visiting my parents, or talking to colleagues. And even a different me when I am with my sweetly. And I am very much ok with this all. Things get complicated when some of those various appearances start mixing up. I would hate to have my mother see me at a heated company discussion. Or the other way around, and having my colleague for tea at my parents house. Some illusions will be shattered.

Of course this will get even worse when mixing the more unique virtual me with a real life me. When I was playing Anarachy Online I mostly interacted with my colleagues. Since they got me hooked on it. The virtual me was completely hollow. It was a pixelated version of office-me in a strange world. Not until I found out how to play without them I started to really enjoy it, since I truely became a person. And that is why I love MMO's. Eventhough the genre need something new I think I will always keep playing them. But that is not what this post is about.

The whole reason for all this rambling is next Thursday. That day I will crash the virtual me with the real life me. And I don't know anymore which one is the real me. And that is scaring me. Are either of them living a lie? Or is there no such thing as a real me? I guess I will find out. And no matter what, I can always claim it is Lani's fault.


  1. Twice now I've tried to respond to this post and both times my browser crashed, maybe your lucky that you didn't witness the very long ramblings on both occasions, needless to say I'm now all typed out so a short reply will suffice for now.

    I'm going to ignore all I previously wrote about the virtual me.

    I've done that VR meets RL in a head on collision type way when I attended the annual MU holiday in belgium last year, 18 people who I had never met before for a whole week of camping, scary thought but in the end a real hoot, some friendships forged that will definately grow, hence Trib and Trin coming to stay next week :-)

    As we had spray painted on our caravan back in my anarcho punk days on a peace camp 'you gorra be yessen' which translated means 'just be yourself', whatever yourself will be that day will be guaranteed a warm welcome and plenty of smiles, I choose my friends because of their ability to be themselves and their ability to allow others to do the same. If all else fails the cocktails are good and the sushi is excellent :-)

  2. P.S I really do need to get those 'It's all Lanis fault' t-shirts printed

  3. Next Thursday, that's the one next week and
    coming Thursday is the day after tomorrow right?

    For some reason I always have trouble with that slice of the Brittish language :-)
    I am naturally extremely curious which Phè's are going to be colliding. Did you invite a colleague to become a gaming buddy, are you meeting up with Trin, Trib and Geek next week?
    Or did you create a CoX Super Villain group with sweety, mother-in-law and your deparment boss?

    David Gemmel once wrote "it is only with complete strangers that we can be ourselves. It is with friends and relatives that we wear the masks of their expectations", which struck me as very true.
    The differences between the office-you, the family-you, friends-you and sweety-you are by and large molded as much by their expectations of you as by your own choice. But unless there's extreme circumstances, those you's ought to be compatible enough.

    The Internet is maybe the most extreme of such circumstances. Your consequences free avatar in the virtual spaces of the world, forums, chatboxes, games e.t.c. allows you to be completely different from the real you.
    An idealized you who you'd rather be, less shy for instance, more relaxed, less driven or simply another aspect of you. Settling for the latter usually gets you the best, lasting results I think. Just like office-bitch Phè and ideal daughter-in-law Phè are different aspects of the real Phè.

    P.s. I forget why I did, but I once did a Google search on Phedre and came across another CoX forum that was pre-Gameamp (I think) that had a Phedre posting on it which had some remarkable overlapping mannerisms. Could it be you already picked the name before Amp? If so, you're virtual you is consistent enough to underwrite my compatibility argument.

  4. Next thursday being the 25th, yes I still find it weird and I should be used it, still find myself double checking when people say 'next'.

    I invited Phe to my birthday bash and she agreed to come (wooohoo!).

    There will be people there that know me well in RL and use my real name and people who know me from the net who will be calling me 'geekie' all night, be interesting to see if my real name starts to fade as my rl friends start to use 'geek' or the other way round :)

    I have no fears that my RL and VR friends will clash, I expect most will get on well, the scary thing is having 4 VR friends staying in my home, theres no escaping the real me there.

  5. Ah, now the monkey is coming out of the sleeve.
    Glad to hear native English speakers sometimes have issues with the 'next' thing too :-)

    That saying'll only make sense to Phè, not you.
    Now I'm starting to feel slightly jealous with two of my best virtual buddies meeting each other in RL. Heck, maybe P-*, Geek will even learn Phè's secret True Name. :-)

    Don't worry Phè, he's probably more scared of you then you are of him and he doesn't bite anymore. It's not good for his heart. Of course, if his preference for necromantic practices in the virtual realms is an extension of his other hobbies you're in trouble. In which case I recommend not to go for the meat course and not drink or eat anything he hasn't touched himself. Then again, the guy owes it to himself to serve a decent Sushi. Stay away from the blowfish.

    When all else fails and you feel totally uncomfortable just start throwing out Dutch sayings and phrases literally translated into English with a straight face. No-one will get it (except the two Belgians), but it'll sound vaguely intelligent and impressive nonetheless.

    Ok, seriously: Bring him a chicken. If people start to ask why half of the guests call him Geek he can demonstrate. It's white meat Geek, so should be ok.

  6. *grin* thanks for all the positive responses. I know I should not worry so much about meeting you. My opinion about none of my VR friends will change if I would meet them in RL, so why am I so worried you will? Probably because I am an idiot for hiding behind my VR me for too long. And probably because VR me is nothing like RL me as this picture shows. (Also handy for you to recognize us when we step in the restaurant. I am the slightly taller one ;>)

  7. Woot ! I am so excited :-) I'll dig out a photo of me to post in return.

    I've just updated the menu for amberjack so choose your poison.

    Lani it's such a shame you aren't close enough to join us, we'll raise a toast to you anyway :)

  8. I was pleasantly surprised when Geekie told me you were going to be at the B-day bash as well Phe!

    I like the contrast between VR and RL a lot. Until now I didn't have the chance to play with you in lot of games, but judging on your AoC days, I like you already ;-)

    Just a little picture from Trin and me as well clicky so you'll know who to expect in the sushi temple. Too bad Lani ain't around...

    The game you played "Tir na nOg" brings back memories for me, not that I ever heard of that game before, but it's Irish (and a name of a pub I used to go to..) meaning something like "Fountain of everlasting youth" if I remember well...

    Anyway, c ya soon :-)

  9. If Phè gets her way, it's probably best if Geek's security team has this mugshot as there might be a party-crasher :-)

    Note: I'm not as wide as that pic makes me look and I also rediscovered I'm allergic to chocolate minutes before taking that shot and that was probably the least flattering light angle under the circumstances.
    Gah! Pics make me selfconcious. That's why I normally only post baby shots of myself.

  10. Hey if geek gets his way the security guards will be armed with your favourite tipple, now that would be the icing on the cake!

    I'm with you on pics making me feel self conscious that's why I haven't posted one yet :)

    I guess it will be the stock facebook picture as that's the most recent in the public domain.

    Scurries off to sort it out...

  11. Here we go While I won't be wearing the suit the specs and beard should give me away.

  12. Woohoo! Geek tought me a new word :-)
    I already knew what a palimpset is, but tipple was a new one for me.
    (un)Fortunately I don't drink, alcohol.
    Tea, Coke and milk as it for me.

  13. Apparently I am an expert in being overly obscure and making wrong assumptions. It was at first not clear to Lani who I was in my picture. So just for clarification. I am the weird bloke on the right. Not the lovely lade on the left.

  14. I'm convinced that misunderstanding owes at least as much to me being obtuse as to you being obscure.
    I.e. I think anyone who hasn't gone through life the last two and a half years in the firm conviction that Phèdre was of the female persuasion would have caught the hint earlier and didn't need to have it spelled out to them.
    Then again, some might ;-P

  15. Phedre being the online persona I know then I'm not gonna feel too stupid about always referring to you as she because I'm doing it online, that logic works for me :-)

  16. I didn't see that one coming =) love it!

  17. Ehm guys? Not helping with the "no you're not an obcure idiot, everyone but me got it" case... :-)