Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alternate Routes

I meant to blog on this last week, but I honestly was so exhausted at that time, that I have only just recently come to terms with how I dealt with the issues and how it affected me.

Over the last month, as many as 6 of my friends have, one way or another, revealed themselves to be alts of other characters that I am friends with. A few, I discovered by accident, another I discovered on my own, and the others I was completely taken by surprise.

I guess the common theme here is, SL (and the internet in general) allows you to annonmously adopt other personae, allowing you, if you so chose, to explore parts of your own self that you feel this simulation affords you that freedom to do.

I try to take it in stride. I know some people take it more seriously, and consider such a discovery to be a horrible betrayal of trust.

I guess I try to take a reserved or pragmatic approach. For me, I sort of consider it a private matter, as long as the "deception" did not involve using me or my friendship at a tool to do someone else or me harm. Do I LIKE that a friend has with held that he's had an alt interacting with me.. no, I don't "like" it. But if they have not abused me, worked against me, or tried to gain some advantage over me or my interests and friends, its not as big a deal to me.

I would hope that my friends realize the sort of person I am, and not with hold this sort of thing from me. I'm not going to call them down for being less than forthcoming over a private matter. Things aren't always cut and dried, but it depends on how I was treated and how they behaved in this other persona.

I know that there are indeed those that simply use their alts to experience SL in privacy when their "main" avatar possibly becomes 1) too popular 2) embroiled in "drama" or 3) genuinely dislike their avi and they want to no longer "be" that person.

One friend makes no bones about his identity - in fact both of his avatars are a dance team - its fantastic to watch Fire and Ice. I can't say enough how much of a grin I get out of it.

I guess, in the end, we are on SL for our own reasons, and despite what we may think the reasons are of those that are "close" to us, we don't always know what is going on behind the eyes of the avatar we're talking to. Each and every avatar, for the most part (bots not included) has a brain somewhere on the other end of that connection, making decisions, feeling emotions, experiencing connections with others. I've always said this is a giant playground of non-accountability and fantasy exploration. The only people you will have to account to are those that you abuse or hurt if you are not careful in what you do. If you don't really care or think SL is just a game, then you will not really get the point I'm trying to make. But if you do care about the people that you interact with.. just remember they do have feelings, and your actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences are mild or even beneficial. Others can be massive flaming conflagrations.

In the end, its your choice how you chose to interact with others, and the amount of respect you chose to show, and its none of my business how you do those things unless you chose to make it my business - so tread carefully on my emotions please, if you are an alt.. honestly.. you're not an alt are you? Are you?

"Are you your own alt?"

I reserve the right to be upset and emotional if I find out you are an alt, regardless of my declarations in the article above. XD


  1. Good point, nicely made :D

    I know the debate between users of, and haters of, alternative accounts has been raging for a long, long time, and I dont think it will end.

    I would feel terrible if some of my friends suddenly revealed themselves to be alts - but - like you say, it isnt too bad if they havent used their alts to attack you or whatever.

    Its a very complicated issue, with as many possible viewpoints and degrees of acceptance as there are alts in SL. Which I guess may be alot more than any of us would like to think.

    I had an alt or two once - altho I didnt use them as 'alts'. One was a 'twin' or mine who Nic and I used for umm.. making things interesting at home.. and my other alt was Esmiel's 'cousin', and I wanted to try out being a girl - but I let everyone know who I was before I even showed her to them.

    I havent used either of those accounts for aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages. I wonder if they got deleted :o

    But yeah, essentially, I cant bring myself to be anyone other than Esmiel anymore.. not that I wasnt Esmiel when I was the other two, really, but.. umm.. yeah. You know what I mean, right? Right? Guys?

  2. Esmi- thanks for weighing in on the subject. I had discussed this, or listened to the views from, a number of people before I got around to posting. The views fell into 3 general catagories - the following are rough figures:
    40% - upset/angry
    30% - didn't care
    30% - amused or didn't see a problem
    I a few "alts" - though to be more accurate they were made essentially for magic chair/camping purposes, and did not interact with anyone. I've used one of them when my main account is unavailable. OR Since there is that stupid rule of 25 groups, I will use one of my "alts" to keep track of certain groups that I've been 'forced' to leave. (NOTE: I'm sure if I had 50 groups, I'd be bitching about that being the limit too xD )
    So essentially, they have utility functions for my purposes. If I even still remember the passwords LOL
    If I do happen to us my alt, I'll tell you who I am. Rest assured there is only one me.. except for that Mirror Mirror version with the goatee. He's actually not too evil, just edgier. More emo. You'll know him when you see him.

  3. Well written post about a often controversial topic.. I have an alt.. he is not really much of a secret. If you meet him you'd know instantly he was me with a different name and skin. I use the "popularity" defense. And its really quite nice to have the ability to quietly visit with people much as I did when first coming into SL.

    Should anyone wish to know who my alt is I tell them. But I set friends to not see me, not because I don't like my friends, but because being visible defeats the purpose of hiding from my main avi's popularity.

    Rest assured I'd tell you and not "play" you.

  4. Just recently I read another blog post about the subject of alts and it referred to them as Shadow Sock Puppetry. I had never heard of them this way and found the article interesting so will pass the link for anyone who'd like to read it.

    I really didn't expect to encounter a situation in SL shortly after reading this, but it helped prepare my thoughts ahead of time. Interesting how things go, almost like they were planned, or fate is stringing us along somehow sometimes...

    You're an interesting and pretty thorough writer, Dehr and I enjoy reading your thoughts on various subjects. This one hits home in more ways than one, mostly enforcing my long standing attitude to be mindful of how others are treated.
    I have had numerous alts in numerous places for various reasons, but usually am really only comfortable with sticking to my main one and concentrating on making it the best I possibly can.
    Even if my main one is actually my 2nd name, thus being my 2nd Second Life!
    I already mentioned to you another time that I made Ima because I was bored with my first one. I still kept my best friend from that av, he is in one of my messengers and knows of my alt and holds nothing against me having it.
    BUT, someone I got close to as Ima (who in fact introduced me to being a neko) seemed to freak out when I mentioned I was an alt. He had previously confided alot of RL info to me, so I was being honest about a few things about me...seemed he didn't like many things about me after that and hardly, if ever speaks to me now. I was at first terribly hurt by the rejection, so if ANYONE feels rejection about being an alt, I will be quick to empathize with them!
    Nuff said, over and out. *static*