There’ll probably be a life update type thing in the near future(or there may not be, if I’m no longer in the mood by then) but first I had an idea that was tickling my brain for a little while. I’d pulled out my old Fire Bomber CD for driving, and while I was heading home “Remember 16″ started playing. This happened to dovetail with a conversation I’d had the night before where someone was commenting about what if you could go back in time and change one (minor?) thing in your life.
16 is supposed to somehow be a magical age we should be nostalgic about. It’s when we’re supposed to be making our first explorations of relationships, learning how to drive, basically starting to become more of an adult than child. The key phrase there is “supposed to”
At that age, I was kind of an idiot in some ways. I’d just come off of somewhat heavy bullying in middle school, which had followed on from a couple years of teasing in 4th and 5th grade, and was in my second year of high school. My freshman year I’d started making an actual friend again and was just starting to fall in with a “geek” clique of sorts, but I still had a lot of paranoia born from those years of bullying, looking back.
In short, though I knew how to drive, I didn’t have a car, I did not have many friends, self-esteem was hovering in the lower third of the range, and I tended to assume anything positive or someone approaching me was someone being sarcastic, or the setup to a joke, outside of certain environments.
My academics was great, but my social life was a mess.
Thankfully the friends I had made had dragged me out of my shell and cleared me of most of that, or I’d shudder to think how I would have been in college. But for me, 16 was far from a time to remember, though I do have some good memories from gaming and my friends of that time. It was far from the sugary teenage utopia that pop culture pushes, though.
Going back to the idea of changing something though, someone I care about had brought up the idea of having never met her ex. Combining those lines of thought had sent my thoughts back to when I was 18.
Now I was young and horny as most teenagers still are at that point, and started spending time on an adult MUCK looking for some “fun.” No, I’m not proud of it, though I have to say that involved text RPing with no visual aids is awesome for developing your descriptive writing skills. Setting all that aside, my “character” was basically me for the most part with a slightly different background, and I got in a session with this one gal who dropped the “l” word during it.
I was (and still am, mostly) kind of a romantic at heart, and that combined with thinking with my smaller head led to what I consider one of my stupidest moments – mixing IC actions and intentions with OOC ones. I’d never really had anyone express romantic sentiments to me at that point due to the previously mentioned facts about how I kept myself fairly isolated through high school, thanks to misplaced paranoia, and took the whole exchange deeper to heart than I should have. I basically went in totally blind and while she was playing a character, I treated it as if it was the person behind the character, until eventually someone on an LDR forum pointed out the “picture” she had sent me was a cropped model image. When I confronted her about it, feeling betrayed, she disappeared, cut off all contact and changed her character name. I never even found out if she was actually a “she.”
I can look back on it now and see how she was basically humoring me, and so, to answer that question, I wish I could go back and slap the me that was then with a clue-by-four before I even got involved with that. At one point, I blamed them for the whole mess, but now I can look back and say it mostly was my own damn fault, and their only portion of blame was from not setting me straight early on when they should have realized how I was taking things. The only good thing that ever came of it was that I learned that LDRs were possible, thanks to finding said support forums’ existence, and that I had finally fully grasped internally that others could actually care for and about me. Both of those I likely would have learned eventually regardless, but in a much less painful manner. It did show me also that it was a good idea to not only make sure I kept a solid wall between any RPing and being myself online, but to also make sure everyone else knows where I stand on that as well, in whatever environment I may be in. In other words, I’m just being myself unless I’m explicitly RPing.
Of course for some people if you’re being something other than what you are in meatspace, they consider that RPing. Being ‘kin, and with my views on identity that I’ve already covered previously, not so much. To me, RPing is when you take on a different character entirely, with potentially(but not necessarily) different goals, backgrounds, or attitudes. RPing is like writing a story, but with control only over whatever portion of the narrative your character encompasses. Hanging out on SL as a frog is far different from presenting yourself as Jor’Nath Frogwalker, Amphibian Champion from the Third Galaxy and Master of the Cheezi Death Games. In my opinion, wearing a different skin is just assuming(or revealing) a different aspect of your identity. Hell, if transhumanism takes off, we’ll be able to do this in meatspace as well!
There’s an easy example of this, actually, within the furry community: Goldfur, the originator of the chakat species. On one hand, Goldfur is hirself; being a chakat is a significant portion of hir identity, from what I have seen around the community. On the other, shi also has written stories about Goldfur the chakat who has 2 chakat sisters in Federation service and has two foxtaurs and a human Federation admiral as mates in a Star Trek-like universe. Now the two may be similar in some ways, but the Chakatverse Goldfur is still hir own entity compared to the furry who wrote the stories, with different experiances and family, not to mention a completely different history.
That may be the actual best way to describe the divergence point. An RP character is a separate entity from the person playing it. It’s like acting out a script that you’re writing as you go, while being yourself requires no extra thought in doing so.
That said, if my avatar is a certain shape, when I act, that is my shape. While humans don’t nuzzle to show affection, dragons do. Dragons may not have arms as such, so they may hug with wings or tail, or use them to wave rather than a forepaw. However, I would not do those things in a fully human body, as it is not built for it, nor is it appropriate. The shape of the body does not have to be the shape of the soul, and the former can be changed, even if only virtually at this time. So the way I look at it is to use the right tool for the right job – after all, while you can use a hammer on a screw, it doesn’t exactly produce the intended result over a screwdriver. Of course, some of that also probably partly comes from having spent so many years among the furry community in the past.
Either way I’m now older and wiser and… well, that’s a post for another time. Suffice it to say that for me a lot of the past is simply the past and my future at the moment is looking fairly promising, if murky.