Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Surrealism of Names

When was the last time you went to a club, the shopping mall, or some other place and had someone you did not know greet you by name? If you have an answer, then you were probably in Second Life at the time for in Real Life our meatspace avatars don't have our given and assumed names hovering over our heads, possibly with information about social affiliation. Sure, if you are famous or infamous there's a chance you were recognized. Or you could have a stalker (lucky you).

When I met the young lady pictured above, I said "Hi, Dilly! Harbingers is a great sandbox, huh?" Right away – even without talking to her – I knew that she was called Scrumdillyumptious but preferred to be called Dilly and that she belonged to the group that owns Harbinger's Haven (a really great sandbox, as I mentioned) because of that little black box (which most people don't realize is a special type of particle with hover text). This makes social interactions rather surreal.

Yes, I'm rather stuck on the idea of surrealism since that Strawberry Singh's blog challenge made me think about it. Now I see surrealism everywhere. Hopefully there's meds to make it stop.

But that aside, no matter how some try to make Second Life as much like Real Life as possible, we still have those tools that give us magic powers over our environment: name tags, radar, and maps and mini-maps, to name a few. So I can be sitting in the Bay City Alliance meeting and greet by name as if I knew them the random new resident or two that inevitably appear each week. I can see friends, Romans, and fellow countrymen approaching from afar and have something ready to say rather than be surprised as can happen iRL. While I'm waiting for them to type a response (because unless folks use Voice, there's a time delay like when someone on the Moon is talking to someone on Earth) I can right click on them and read information – usually about themselves – they've voluntarily given up for public use.

In Dilly's Profile she quotes Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" for her Real Life Biography and states "I may have that New Avatar Smell, but this isn't my first rodeo" in her general Biography. Generic pictures, no Picks, and just one group plus her September 20, 2013 rez date round out her her Profile. Not much to learn there except by inference and I'll let you assume what you want. It's not like you can poke someone with your finger iRL and get even this sparse modicum of information and you likely won't until all of us are required to use MyFace, the pertinent URLs tattooed on our foreheads (you know someone is thinking of doing this).

These are not new thoughts. For the last month or so I've been trying diligently to not have name tags active. Or if they are, then to not greet people by name unless I recognize them. That can be difficult, as you know, since your friends can turn into hamsters faster than you can say "transfiguration." Why am I doing this. No idea. Boredom? An attempt at making SL more like RL? Or I'm overdosing on surrealism.

Probably boredom. In any case, I'd like to see your thoughts in the Comments.


Mr. Crap Mariner said...

I've tried to go without nametags to see if I can identify people by their look or what they say.

It's not easy, but it's fun to do now and then. And if you hang out with the same people mostly and they're not crazy polymorphs, it's not that hard to do.

I think I'll do it again tonight.


Uccello Poultry said...

I bet you'd make a cute hamster, Crap :D

Uccello Poultry said...

A few comments have been posted on My Second Life at

Deirdre Graves said...

This is an interesting thing to try to play i=out in roleplaying, since you can have perfect knowledge of who someone is and details about them. Keeping Out Of Character information separated is much more difficult than people really think about.