So, my relationship with my avatar, Testy Outlander, has reached a whole new level. I realized this last week when I was in-world last week and my cell rang. It was an old friend, but before I picked up the call……I made sure that I/Testy was seated in a relaxed, comfortable, out-of-the-way place.
What? I have a real-life friend on the line, who goes back 10 years & I haven’t spoken with for a matter of months. Yet, I felt so connected in a very experiential way to Testy that I first thought of attending to ‘her’ (or my?) comfort before I attended to my RL call. And let’s remember that Testy is a combination of bits and bytes….which makes me wonder what exactly is this virtual sense of ‘comfort’ that I felt so strongly about affording her/I.
Also, let’s analyze how I just described this:
I made sure that I/Testy was seated in a relaxed, comfortable, out-of-the-way place.
Notice that I did not say “I manipulated an online character to be seated by clicking on my computer keyboard.” No, I talk about it as a socially proper thing to do: getting Testy/myself seated and relaxed. This way, I was fully ‘ready’ to engage with my RL friend.
What’s happening to me?
The first time I’d noticed this type of more intense, emotional connection to my avatar was when I was creating my first notecard in SL. I spent time looking for an appropriate place to do so. Because I wanted a quiet place to work, I went to the library and located a comfortable bean bag to sit on. Then, I felt good about diving in to create the SL object that I wanted.
This is different from even the first few months that I’d spent some time in-world. Then, I’d just walk away from the keyboard and leave my avatar in the middle of a social scene without thinking anything of it. I wasn’t bothered by Testy’s stiff-as-a-board appearance that made her look a bit like a robot.
Contrast this to my recent feelings that she/I have appeared socially awkward. So, I found out from a friendly librarian that an Animation Override (AO) would make her appear more natural when standing or sitting. And, courtesy of said librarian, I now have an AO.
In other words, the line between myself and my avatar, when I’m immersed in-world, has begun to blur. It’s gotten to the point that I really don’t know what pronoun to use when writing about Testy (her/I).