Friday, September 5, 2008
A broken mirror
Second Life and third Life and fourth life. It is alternate life. AKA, love the one your with. One Idoru to another and another and another. Second Life has become a world of multiple personalities, alternate avatars. What does this do to ethics? How does it effect friendships? What does it mean for relationships? Is one Alt responsible for the others actions? Is it fraud or role play? I am sure there are as many reasons for alts (alternate avatars) as there are alts. Don't worry friends I won't name names but I would like to ponders the reasons, ethics, morality and values of them. Let's be clear about one thing; we all have a least one alt. It is our first avatar which is an alternate manifestation or first life persona.
I have several friends that use alts for different reasons. My favorite series of alts is one of my closest friends. She doesn't really hide the fact that she has them. Each one represents a personalty she has in RL. This gives her an opportunity to act out in a much safer place than RL. This seems like a very legitimate function of alts. Each one has its own character and role. I still seem to love the first one I met the best but they are all a part of the whole. Which means I ultimately love them all.
I thinks the most common purpose for alts is deception role play. Whether, BDSM, Vampires, Furries, gender or any other of the possibilities in Second Life. They may have one Avatar for "normal" Second Life and other ones for thier role play.
Of course the one the big one reasons for alts is deception. Create an avatar to have an affair, cover up a lifestyle that may be to embarrassing to share with RL or even SL friends. Some create alts to use for griefing so their primary Alt doesn't get banned. I would say this if the area that most challenges ethical values. Keep in mind ethical values are a far more relative term in Second Life than they are in First Life
One of the interesting things about alts is that they can take on a life of their own. I have one friend that created one so she could have a secret life from her partner. It just about destroyed their partnership once it was discovered. (Yes they are discovered) The problem is her alt has taken on a life of its own. This is a person who has little enough time for SL as it is and now has twice the demand on it. I can totally relate to taking on your own life in SL. Yours truly, has been dragging my creator from adventure to adventure.
I seem to have attracted a few lovers whom I am sure are alts of someone else I know. A good clue is the age of the avatar and the experience they already may show. Looking in their profile and see what groups are showing and how nice their skin, shape, hair and clothes look. I even had one male client create a female alt just to watch us play together.
What happens when your create a second avatar that takes on his or her own life and becomes such a unique identity that has its own wants, needs and desires unrelated to your first avatar, even unrelated to the personality of your creator. Like characters in a novel that consume the author. could each alt become a separate character? Is it possible for each alt have a different set of ethics and morals?
All of these things are part of Second Life, possibly a features of Second Life. How does this effect our definition of "morality" or "ethics"? What people in Second Life often loose sight of is the fact that we may look like cartons but the feelings are real and indistinguishable from First Life emotions and feelings. Ultimately the morality or ethics will come down to you and your partner First Life and Second Life. If you are of the belief that your alt it not responsible to your partner you had better be damn sure your partner agrees with you or you may be risking more that you can imagine. The fact is people are going to get hurt. Who holds the karma for that one. The alt, the avatar or the handler/creator? Everything we do effects somebody in RL and SL.
I make no moral judgments. I am only asking the questions. You or your avatar will have to decide your own values. Just be sure you are willing to handle the consequences. There will be more consequences than you can imagine. Some may be wonderful and some may be harsh and painful. If you ever want to talk about this please feel free to IM me, in-world.