A space to reflect on my readings and musings, scattered and rescattered


Fitting In

I wasn't cool the first time around (in high school, that is), but today as I first began trying to use my newly created avatar on Habbo Hotel I realized that I hadn't remembered something key: you have to fit in. Today as AlterT (I know the name isn't clever), I visited the rooms of some hip kids and looked out of place. They were talking about me out loud, publicly humiliating! And it hurt, really felt icky.

Now I didn't have tons of choices about how my avatar would look like I would on Second Life. One can only choose hair, facial shape, clothing and shoes as well as the colors of each. I chose a red mohawk, a roundish ordinary face with pale skin similar in tone to my own, a purple tank top, black loose pants, and black flip flops. And my avatar clearly has the "girl" body. Why I chose the red mohawk I'm not quite sure. It was fun to try on something I'd never try in real life and, well, I must confess I thought it was cool. She looked very much like I can imagine my alter-ego would look, hence the name. And I like my/her look. But the other kids made fun of me. One asked the question, "Is she a boy?!" I hadn't really intended to cause a fuss or represent in a transgendered way. I was only reacting to the hairstyles available that looked most like they could be my own that ended up making me look like a cherub. The chubby faces with the spunky blondish styles felt very juvenile, and I, of course, like the time I researched Sconex and, had again had to lie about my age to participate. What strikes me though is that these "kids" as I call them are not kids at all. The avatars look almost like they're in elementary school. It's very juvenile and I'm surprisingly uncomfortable with the limited choices I was given in my own representation. I wonder if I would have felt differently when I was a teen. Something tells me I would not have chosen a red mohawk. Hmmmm.... I'm wondering if I am not embodying this avatar enough, if it was a poor choice to make her too unlike me. I am not naturally conflating her/me in the way I read of folks doing on Second Life. Is it because of the limited affordances, the cherubic babydoll style avatars, or is it that I know I was not born in 1989 and am struggling to participate in a world I feel I don't belong in? Is it that I have not been online as her long enough? I give.


At 11:32 AM, Blogger moiraleigh said...

Strange that the gender thing (who is s/he? what is s/he?) was so troubling to the people you were chatting with online. What do you make of this? Was it that they suspected you weren't "accurately" representing your gender or that the gender you were representing was ambiguous in some way?

At 12:33 AM, Blogger tiffanydj said...

I think my avatar is somehow gender ambiguous and that's still uncomfortable to many. I, however, met a cool kid (age 15) online this morning from Scotland who was sporting a green mohawk. He was happy to answer my teacherly questions and told me about his real-life funky hairstyle. When I admitted I'd never have the nerve for a red mohawk in real life and outed myself as a teacher, he said, "yeah right, hun, whatever, it's the internet." But later, as I think I kept consistently wearing my teacher hat, he told me about college plans, and I think he began to believe I just might be who I said I was. All this to say I there is that aura of skepticism and I think it might just be so easy to reject others openly in this forum. As in people who don't want to talk to me simply walk away from me and whatnot. Or there can be more cutting remarks. I'll officially blog this stuff when I've processed it more!


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