The old marketing adage that it pays to advertise is not only helpful for greasing the wheels of commerce, but I find the same holds true when it comes to publicizing some juicy details about yourself while roaming a sprawling virtual world like Second Life.
My experience as an SL inhabitant has been greatly enhanced over the past month or so, ever since I deliberately touched up my avatar profile to be more telling about who I was as a real-life individual. For example, it displays the names of several groups that I now belong to, including ones involving non-traditional gender identification and sexuality, which, I think, is a tactful way of communicating such information.
This has translated into dividends for me, being a biologically male user who identifies as gender binary in real-life, yet interacts in-world with a female avatar. (Oh, what a tangled [World Wide] web!) Anyway, because my profile is now a closer reflection of what sort of sexual animal I am, I don’t have to feel like I am trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, particularly if I wind up luring a hetero male or strictly lesbian avatar into the sack, for example. I mean, as long as a user knows how to read — in this case, my profile — and adheres to the age-old motto of look before you leap, I think he or she will be spared any unwelcome surprises down the road, if you know what I’m saying.
(By the way, my ratings suck, so try not to look at them in that photo. More people need to give me some points already!)
OK, where was I? Oh yeah. I also have found that posting revealing details in one’s avatar profile — whether displaying likes and dislikes, interests, fetishes, sexual orientations or whatever — helps make for a more efficient virtual existence, particularly in that it significantly reduces the amount of time one would otherwise have to spend in-world seeking out inhabitants who can make your own experience more enriched.
I guess all this can be regarded as a bit silly — the notion that I even give a hoot about these matters, considering the fact that Second Life is based in large part on role play, including swapping gender. But still, I think there is always an element of risk of being accused of misrepresenting oneself (or at least the anticipatory fear of such an accusation), especially if a given online 3D relationship blossoms emotionally on a premise that later comes crumbling down on the revelation of certain truths.
On a related and somewhat futuristic note, these matters got me to thinking about whether it would be beneficial or detrimental (or a little of both) to have some personal profile information within immediate reach of others we interact with in real life via some form of advanced computer technology.
What I’m trying to say is, a craftily composed profile can contribute to a more rewarding experience in virtual space. Would a similar information source that may ultimately become available through some interface in the physical world make our lives on this planet more efficient, fruitful and enjoyable? Wouldn’t it help us cut to the chase by allowing us to know more details about one another up front, including the aspects of ourselves that we try to hide but would be better off being expressed and exposed from the onset?
Or would such openness demand too high a price, at the expense of the unmediated mystery and adventure of courting others or just interacting with people in general? Maybe a virtual world is the only place where relaxed, before-the-fact disclosure is feasible, being as there may simply be too many risks involved with such unprecedented divulgence in the physical world. Or maybe there’s a middle ground to be staked out.