Posts Tagged ‘avatar association’

There is no shortage of people, in RL and thereby in SL as well, who crave surrendering their will to someone else, or having someone else surrender their will to them. The person who surrenders feels the loss of life’s stresses as someone else takes over for a while, they feel wanted and desired by the person who has taken control, and the tinge of a dangerous thrill at what might come from it; the utter trust and open-ness that they grant the other person. The person who takes control also feels wanted and desired knowing that this person with free will has given it up to them, they feel the thrill of knowing they can have what they too want – push the limits to see how far they can take it, and they can get exactly what they want without judgment or criticism – the person is theirs to fulfill their fantasies or needs with.

In SL, this type of surrender can be particularly “intense”: You can grant someone else temporary or longer control over your avatar’s actions – a type of total physical domination which is obviously harder to achieve in RL. The closer the people associate to their avatars, the more real the satisfaction from surrendering or being surrendered to. And it need not be sexual either – though of course that’s part of the picture for many people so inclined. In SL you can tell someone what you want their body to look like, what clothes you want to see on (or off) them, hair colour, everything, and they can do it on your whim. Yes you could just make the perfect avatar yourself – and some men definitely do – they cut out the “middle woman” and just make the person they want first hand. But that’s missing the point here: It’s about someone else agreeing on every level to give over themselves to want you want and need from them. The surrender. Utter. Complete. Surrender.

I’m not in either category: I don’t want to control or be controlled at those sorts of extremes – even with rules in place about how far people can go and how much they can demand, that style of surrender is not my cup of tea. And, importantly, I tend to quite strongly associate with my avatar. So I actually feel uncomfortable when I click a yes button thinking I’m getting a hug and my avatar ends up on her knees praying to the cheeky bugger. If I didn’t care about my avie, didn’t associate with her, then surrendering her would be effortless, and – most importantly – meaningless.

I’ve heard people boast about how they don’t care about their avie, it’s just a “dolly”, it’s only pixels. Well they’re missing out and more fool them. If you can’t find some level of association with your avatar then you’re overlooking so very much of the SL experience; surrendering being just one of very many examples of the good and the bad of avatar association.

Random semi-relevant quote that just happened in-world:

[3:32]  Landsend Korobase: aren’t you meant to tell me why I bother..?
[3:33]  Clare Loring: hahaha
[3:33]  Clare Loring: newp
[3:33]  Clare Loring: that’s your choice
[3:33]  Clare Loring: hehe
[3:33]  Landsend Korobase: my choices suck
[3:33]  Landsend Korobase: I eat mcDonald’s, I shouldn’t be trusted with my own life
[3:33]  Clare Loring: hahahaha

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One of the most wonderful, interesting, and at times frightening things, about SL, is how closely most people end up associating with their avatars. I have a lot to say about this so I’m suspecting it’s going to end up being done in multiple posts.

I associate strongly with Landsend (or “Lands” as I refer to myself principally). When you bump her, hug her, dance with her, it feels a certain level of real. When you compliment her I feel the compliment is for me, in some sense beyond the fact that I put her together. And, of course, when you cage her, attack or insult her, I feel that too in the same way.

How did this close level of association come about, what are its causes and effects, and can I step back from her…? These are some of the many questions I intend to ask and answer in these posts.

The way I feel when I’m in my alts is different still, and I think that shows a key to the issue. For those of you not familiar with alts – I just mean “alternate accounts” – me but in different names. And you better believe there’s a lot to say about alts too!

The issue of avatar association comes up when taking SL pictures too, which I love doing and do a lot of. It’s at its height when I’m taking pictures of nudes and people act prudish, or feel uncomfortable being naked in front of me. Now I do my best to make them feel at ease, I always smudge out certain bits and ask them if they want their name linked to the picture. Even some professional SL models stress about this, and it’s their job!

When I’m in pictures I disassociate from Lands – I know art is art. It took me a while to reach this point admittedly, but the more pictures I took and the more adventurous I got with my themes the easier it was to do. I draw a line at showing explicitly sexual acts in my pictures (at this stage), but that’s a personal choice about what sort of SL photographer I am, not a reflection of my prudishness. And yet before and after a picture I slip easily back into closely associating with Lands.

Having said that, my closeness to Lands overall has lessened in the past 2 months, and there are many reasons for that which I will talk about another time. See why I’m going to be using multiple posts 😀

So that’s all for now, just an introduction to what I think is one of the most interesting aspects of having a second life.

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