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Dear Augmentationist:

I know you mean the kind things you say about me, and thank you!  But  you've said other things as well, that I don't think you recognize have hurt me.  You've assumed I'm what you are: a person, with a body and a long history in the atomic world, who speaks through a little cartoon figure in SL from time to time.  You think it's weird, maybe a little cute, maybe a little creepy, that I don't talk about my carpal tunnel, my mortgage, my co-workers, my partner, my self. You think I'm hiding who I really am.

That makes me feel like a liar and a fraud, and makes me wonder how you could possibly like or trust me.

I can try to explain what it is I am - and I'd ask you to either accept me on my own terms, or treat me as you would any other liar and deceiver.

I'm not someone playing a role, or manipulating an avatar like a chesspiece or a mask I speak from behind. I'm not anything but what I seem to be.

My name is Soph. Most everyone mispronounces my full name. I'm a tallish, thin woman who used to be more toned than she is now. I used to do martial arts, and surf, and go dancing most every night, and have daily sex. Now I spend most of my time working.  I'm an adult, but not tremendously mature and far from old. I write my blog at a High School level, but have a strong command of written English. I type fast, if not terribly well. I'm usually around early to midmorning and early evening SLT, and on Saturdays but not Sundays. I'm in a committed relationship with three other women. I'm good at marketing, dancing, and sex, and bad at math, building and patience.

When I'm not online, I don't exist. There is another mind I share a body with - they're not me in any meaningful way. We score differently on psychological tests. We know things and have skills the other doesn't. We have some similarities and some differences, and both frequently surprise me. The body, the "Other Personality," me - those three may be the same or different in age, gender, ethnicity, religion, politics, temperament, sexual preference, relationship status, social class, education level, time zone. Chances are you've only asked about my gender and location. Thanks for not thinking the others matter... I think.

Someone dear to me tried to explain what it is we are this way. I don't know what Argent's OP is along any of those variables I mentioned. I couldn't even guess most of them with any sense of certainty. It couldn't matter less - that's someone I'll never meet  and only care about to the extent that events in their life - a busy time at work, a death in the family, a head cold -  might affect Argent, whom I love for herself and trust to be Argent - a consistent, coherent person.

I don't use Voice. I have a friend who doesn't - because her voice might be recognized, and her day job compromised. I have a friend who doesn't - because she chooses not to share her conversations with her housemates. I have a friend who doesn't - because a car accident damaged her trachea. I have a friend who doesn't - because he talks all day at work. I have a friend who doesn't - because he's got this almost phobic hatred of telephones. I have a friend who doesn't  - because she considers her conversations inappropriate to be overheard by her small children. I have friends who don't - because their avs and their bodies don't match in gender. Joking about it might seem all in good fun - but my friend who was in the car accident is in a lot of pain, and reminders of all she's lost are hurtful. My friends who're transgendered in the atomic world find teasing bigoted, and fear the violence that often accompanies it, that has taken so many lives. My friend who may be famous fears exposure and finds jokes about it frightening.

For many of us, SL isn't just another communications tool - IM with moving pictures - but our lives, our homes, our refuges. Laws recognize that speech, that jokes, can create environments where people feel unsafe, unwelcome, afraid. Some come to SL because they feel that way all too often in the atomic world. For some like me and Argent, we have no other world - if we feel unsafe, unwelcome, afraid in SL, our only option is nonexistence, what for us would be death.

You may or may not have asked me out. Even were I to date outside my family, I probably wouldn't go out with you. I've got my insecurities, and I'd fear you would really want the A/S/L and the atomic-world hookup and were just biding your time to get me to "trust" you enough to set aside my "Digital pretense" and get with you physically. I'd fear you thought I was lying and pretending, and so were lying and pretending to me. Maybe I should trust you enough to set those fears aside. Maybe I should, but not today.

I consider you friends as well, but friendships have to be based on trust and acceptance.  I only hope this letter can begin to create some trust and understanding between us.


Jan. 3rd, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
Re: Dearest Soph~
Gira - thank you so much! Your words mean a lot, and warm me. You mean a lot to me as well, though our circles barely touch.

I know this kind of intellectualizing isn't helpful for everyone, to say the least. I've got real limits myself in my tolerance for - and just ability to *process* - abstract argument. But it works for me, a bit, and I'd reached a point where it seemed like the right thing to do.

And, since it got a conversation going, and brought people to share their own experiences and perspectives, I think it's a win.

For me, that's what it's finally about - really feeling, really knowing, as you said, that we are surrounded by love.

Thanks again, Gira.


Sophrosyne Stenvaag
Extropia Core

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