Not long ago, Honour posted a piece on how, in order to get things done in-world, she sometimes resorts to using an alt. Doing so allows her to focus on what she’s doing without the distractions of IMs, people dropping in or whatever. Last on, she followed-up with a piece commenting that despite the fact she does use an alt – she doesn’t consider the alt to be “her”.
I know what Honour means.
I’ve had an alt since 2008. (Actually, I technically have 2 alts – but one is located on a Destination Island, where I use it to see if there have been any tweaks to the in-world side of the sign-up process, so I ignore it, as it’ll never see serious use anywhere else). She was created after my main account appeared broken, and i needed an account simply to be able to get in-world while my main account was “fixed”.
Fortunately, the account issues were resolved after a few days, and so the alt disappeared into a box, making only occasional appearances in-world. More recently, she seen rather more use, as I tend to use her to fiddle with project and experimental viewers, a move which prompted me to dub her my “Crash Test Alt”.
Over the last few months, this use has grown to include me sometimes using her to attend in-world Lab meetings (generally as a result of me already being logged-in with her & being to bone-idle to swap accounts / viewers), and occasionally slipping in to scout-out regions I might blog about at some point. Even so, through all this time, I’ve never regarded her as “me”; in my mind she is always, “her”, “she” or “it”.
My reaction probably isn’t that unusual; many of us have a particular avatar in SL into which we pour not only a lot of creative effort, but also a lot of our own personality as well, so much so that there is an indelible line which connects us in a very personal and unique way to that avatar which goes beyond matters of money spent or inventory built up.
Even so, I find my lack of identification with my alt interesting. Other than tweaking her shape and getting her a decent skin, I’ve never seen the need to invest in any clothes or shoes for her. To this day, she’s still wears the outfit she was wearing when first rezzed. It’s not that I can’t define or afford a look for her; I simply don’t see the point of doing so. She doesn’t even have a profile picture of herself.
My inability to identify with her manifests in other ways as well. As I mentioned above, I sometimes use her to slip into SL to scout regions I might blog about. But then I do this, I find that I have considerable difficulty in taking snapshots using her; I can’t settle on camera angles or decide on appropriate windlight settings or the best time of day to frame a shot. Then, even when I do eventually land a series of snaps, I’m completely dissatisfied with them and end up deleting them and swapping back over to my main and starting again. I may be far from the top-flight photographers who inhabit Second Life, but it’s almost as if what abilities I do have when it coming to taking in-world photos is wholly invested in Inara Pey, and it is only with her that I have any confidence that what I’m trying to frame may be worth showing to others.
My alt isn’t hard to spot. Not only is she still in 2008 “female musician” threads and boots, her group tag tends to read “Inara Pey incognito”, which is a bit of a giveaway, I know. I created it to try and make me feel a little easier with using her; not that it seems to be working.
So if you come across her meandering around, and conversation seems odd or awkward when chatting, don’t worry. It’s not that I don’t want to be disturbed or that I’m trying to avoid contact.
It’s just that I’m borrowing someone else’s body for a while, and it doesn’t quite fit.