Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who Am I?

If you ever wanted to read a story where the innermost thoughts and feelings of the main character are revealed with intimately poetic detail, then Victor Hugo's Jean Valjean would be that character. If you have read my blog before you know of my love for timeless literature, books that transcend nations and peoples and generation after generation.

My point in bringing up Valjean is that he was a criminal. When young he stole bread and was sentenced to prison. Following 19 years in jail he was released with legal papers showing to everyone he met that he was a convict, which limited his ability to gain meaningful employment, if any. He was nothing, a cur under the feet of dogs, whose abodes were too good for him.

Eventually he broke parole, and created a new identity for himself along with a new life. This life brought success, until one day an old nemesis (an Inspector Javert), believed he had captured Jean Valjean, the parole-breaker, and was to try him in court for his crime. The real Valjean found out about this and became quite vexed in both mind and soul. Should he let this innocent man pay for his crimes? Who was he to allow this to happen?

This story brought forth a musical, and in it a song titled "Who Am I?", which sings about the night Valjean spent in his room debating what path to take, to claim ownership of his true identity and live with the consequences, or continue living a lie in the shadows of life.

This story brings to my mind issues of identity within World of Warcraft (and any other MMO on the market). Who am I and who are you?

More specifically, how much of the "true you" do you keep hidden while playing vs how much you reveal? I realize that one thing that breaks down any barriers that you may put up is Ventrilo or Teamspeak. You can't hide the fact that you're a boy if you open your mouth and others hear your voice. But I'm not talking about guildies, for in a good guild I think we can open up more and make friends and learn stuff. What I refer to is the rest of the world.

Let me be the first to admit that I have kept a secret, even lied to somebody because it seemed like the right thing to do. When one of my toons was very young and I was new to the game I met a friend while running a dungeon. This person began whispering me whenever I logged in, and I did the same to her. I say her because she made it very clear that she was a girl.

The lie was that she also thought I was female, when I was not. I conversed with this person day after day, and soon I began to see that she started trusting me with some real life issues. Now being the really nice guy that I am I listened. I didn't offer too much adivce, I just tried to show that I understood what she was going through (to the best of my ability, of course). I mean, hey, guys have experiences too, who's to say we can't turn black to white and still understand the situation?

We don't talk every day anymore, we never were in the same guild and I stopped logging into that particular character to play with my others. But we still talk sometimes and I have no inclination to let her know that I am nothing other than what she believes me to be. Why? Because I think it would do more harm than good. Please take note that I did not open up nearly as much as she did, I just tried to listen more than talk.

I don't reveal a lot to people by choice, I don't want you or anyone on my server involved in my personal life. I'm not against it to the point where I refuse to help others cope with life, but I choose not to reveal things myself unless it's with guildies.

So how much of yourself do you reveal? Do you think you reveal more than you want to based on your actions or other factors? What's appropriate and what is off limits?

Operators are standing by.


LarĂ­sa said...

You know, it's kind of hard to pinpoint what is your "real I". At least it is for me. At the age of 42 I'm still working on getting to know myself. In my view a person is like a crystal - the light will break up in different ways, depending on from where it's coming, and there will be different patterns and colors coming out of it. Always flowing. Never the same. Nothing to really hold on to. I doubt there is a solid core, the TRUE I hidden inside us.

I think that I many times however show other sides online than I do in real life. I bring out the child in me, I can get close to people no matter of age and gender. Mind to mind meets without being clouded of the prejudices coming with superficial things like social status and appearance. It's very refreshing and an important aspect of the game to me.

Gronthe said...

True, it is hard to portray the "real you/I" when we all are still learning about ourselves.

I really do enjoy deciding what I reveal about myself. I'm guarded in RL, online even more so. It's nice, as in the case I brought up, to be able to communicate without prejudice, or at least very, very little.

I've also thought on how I've interacted with this girl about as long as Jean Valjean pondered if he should turn himself in...no short time. I'm afraid revealing identity can spoil something good.

Thanks for your visit, you are always welcome here!