Who Am I?

Toney, Alabama, United States
Software Engineer, Systems Analyst, XML/X3D/VRML97 Designer, Consultant, Musician, Composer, Writer

Friday, November 9, 2007


Avamnesia: losing memory of one’s identity in the real world through spending too much time developing the reputation of the avatar identity.

It isn’t a real word, of course. I made that up to describe the phenomenon I am seeing in the virtual worlds personalities who haunt the blogs of groups focused on Second Life and other virtual world and game sites. These are people who are so obsessed with the so-called ‘metaverse’, they really believe they ‘live and work there’. It’s as if Mel Blanc decided one morning to change his name to “Bugs Bunny” and began to sue anyone who disputed it. I’m sure by now that there are a few cases of people changing their given names to that of their avatar.

It isn’t a new phenomenon. Actors who submerge themselves completely in the characters they play are old news. It is said that Bela Lugosi left instructions that he be buried in his Dracula costume. It makes for a funny picture. Imagine the funerals of elderly people being buried wearing pink spiky wigs and prodigious push-up bras.

An article questions why so much print is being devoted to worlds where the traffic is really insignificant compared to sites devoted to bird watching. A victim of the disease asked in rejoinder why so much print is devoted to dissing the virtual worlds fad? It seems there is a common revulsion to the avamnesiacs as if some force had opened the gates of 3D Looney Tunes and let the loonies out to infest the rest of the web. The avamnesiacs claim their worlds are as real as a Scientology history of mankind.

Sports fans paint themselves up to go to the games. They usually don’t do it when they go to work on Monday morning. Avamnesiacs insist on signing their in-world names to their out-world posts and activities. I wonder if they are this generation’s version of the disco generation in which people who made $100 a week spent it all on clothes and dance moves so that one night week beneath the glitter ball they could pretend to be somebody.

Of course, merchants encourage avamnesia just as once upon a time, huge ads and billboards displayed John Travolta in the arm-raised position declaring his macho independence of his family while protecting his hairdo. This kind of fad sells clothes and other kitsch so just as the marketing agencies suddenly switched from button-downs to tie-dies, we see ads where dark slinky replaces stoney denim to move the buyers from revised punk to geek sheik.

Because every movement creates a counter-movement, someone will soon be selling the antidotes for avamnesia. For the generation repeating the phrase “keeping it real”, this is better than the 1954 MAD magazine cover that satirized the fashion industry or it may be as tragic as “Maus” if the trends continue and the disease spreads.

As the creator of “Maus”, Art Spiegelman said about MAD magazine:

"The message MAD had in general is 'The media is lying to you, and we are part of the media. It was basically... 'Think for yourselves, kids.'"

And maybe sign your real names to your posts if you want to be taken seriously.

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