The Song Remains The Same: Identity Cues

(or, “Well, Erbo, you wanted excitement…”)

First of all, Tateru: Touche. But I note that, even as a furry, you’ve retained some of your “visual identity cues” from your “standard” avatar…the dress and the flower are the most obvious two. For me, that made that image of you instantly recognizable, despite the furry body. I’ve seen this with another of my friends, too; when matt27 Churchill went furry for awhile, he retained sufficient identity cues, such as the rose he carries, to provide a “bridge” between his previous identity and that one.

This makes me wonder: When people change their visual identity in such a manner, do they often leave “identity cues” like that, consciously or subconsciously, that provide this kind of bridge? Certainly, I have done so…as in the case of my “Goth Erbo” appearance. (And I wish I had a picture of it to post here…but I couldn’t find one either on Snapzilla or Electric Minds.) The body shape is still my own, of course, but, in addition, I added a silver version of my Bent to the outfit. And it still felt like me, despite the pale-bordering-on-ghostly skin, the black eyeliner, black lipstick, black nail polish, and black hair…none of which I would ever do to myself in RL.

But there’s another point to consider, one which I neglected to make in my last post…not all “identity cues” are visual. A big identity cue for me is typing style, and vocabulary, as well. For instance, only Torley seems to use the words “Yayzerama!” and “Thanxies.” (When I was talking with her not long ago, I actually used the word “kewlzerama” when I spoke at one point, mimicking her style. She said, “I’ve got to use that word more often!” 🙂 ) It could be as simple as how people express laughter; Travis would say “hehe” where I might say “LOL,” and someone else might say “lol” in lower-case. It could be people’s use of “smilies” in text; I tend to the three-character “:-)” where others favor the simpler “:)”. (Onionpencil Musashi often uses “XD”; I never quite “got” that one…) At an extreme, my coworker Ed uses a very “clipped” way of speaking in chat and IM, which is sometimes hard for me (and others) to understand. I tend to the opposite end myself, trying to type in a more “literary” fashion, though sometimes I forget my capitalization if I’m in a hurry. (And don’t forget gestures! Many people make more use of SL’s gestures than I do, and they’ll prefer a variety of different ones. I don’t use them quite as much because I’m always forgetting the commands or key-bindings.) Sadly, Tateru, I haven’t spent enough time around you to know your typing style as well as I might/should…

Those of us that are bloggers and blog-commenters have another way of expressing our identity, too…through our writings here online. I’ve had more than one person in-world tell me that they liked my writing style here on Evans Avenue Exit, for instance. It also offers us an opportunity to influence the opinions of those people who are not (yet) Residents. And that brings us full-circle…Tateru, your change in appearance didn’t alter my first impression of you, mainly because, via your blog, I had already formed a “first impression” of you before I ever set foot on the Grid. It was a favorable one, to be sure…you struck me as an intelligent person, and someone who knew an awful lot about online community, a subject near and dear to my own heart. And, as one of the first SL bloggers I ever read, you may have helped influence me to “take the plunge” in the first place. How’s that for a job of “mentoring”?

(Oh, and while we’re owning our own clarity here…Mera, at least part of my reaction to your new appearance was overexaggeration, for dramatic effect. But you probably already figured that out.)

UPDATE: Herewith, for your entertainment, is Goth Erbo:

Also, read the comments for Danielle’s important observation and my reply.



Filed under Appearance, Identity

2 responses to “The Song Remains The Same: Identity Cues

  1. Ok you make a point but I shall ask you this, what is it that you use as my identity cues? If you could not see my name per se, how would you know it was me? What is it that me makes stand out for you?

    I will attempt to explain what is for me. If I succeed then yay, if not I will get the shoe horn later. Suprisingly I do not identify you by your default Erbo look (although it does annoy me -grins-). It is more or less, I guess your typing style or the way you “talk”. I turned off the online alerts and there have been times when I did not know you where there until you said something (the curse of multitasking with several windows open). I generally tend to look at what is said not who said it (which has gotten me in trouble before). It is the “tone” of how things are said. Even though it is written instead of voice, the tone is still there. It is the way you speak verses others.
    I think I shall quit while I am a head before I confuse myself and others.

  2. An excellent point, Love, and one which I meant to address in the main body of the post, but forgot about, and by the time I remembered, Blogger was being stupid again…

    Of course, I’ve seen you change a lot of things about yourself–your hair, your skin, even your shape–and each time, you were still identifiably “you.” Perhaps in your case it is more the way you “talk” to me. Of course, both the way you talk to me and the way I talk to you are reflections of the emotional bond between our SL selves…and that may be the biggest “identity cue” of them all. But the subject of emotional ties really deserves its own post at a later date.

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