Online offline

Oookay, wow. Tonight is going to be interesting. Tonight I go out for a night on the town with 5 current guildies, 2 of whom I haven’t met offline before.

This is a strange proposition to me. Especially in relation to talking about identity, the freedom from those automatic judgements of the body that are so much a part of our interaction offline.

Two of tonight’s group I know offline – one from before she started playing (yes, I’m guilty of hooking her), and her sweetie. The third I met soon after I met him in game – not much time to form impressions there.

But these other two I have been interacting with quite a bit in-game, and will now present myself in the flesh.

It’s STRANGE! I kind of feel like a teenager. “Am I cute enough? Am I interesting enough? Do they kind of envision me as curvy, blue-haired and big-eared?”

Why in heaven’s name do I feel the need to be “cute enough”?! It’s not as though I have some kind of online romance going, or am on the market. But…. translating the online self, the chatter and jokes and jibes into offline hanging out complete with a *real body*…. heh. And how much of what people expect to see is related to what they see in my ‘toon?

One of these two I haven’t met is someone I’ve chatted with online quite a bit. We have this lively banter that ranges from good-natured insults to casual helpfulness. Nothing all that deep or dramatic, but someone I’ve always enjoyed talking to in guild chat and vent. The other I hardly talk to at all. But both are core members of the guild. Are they going to go back and report? “Lan is actually a wild-eyed lunatic.”

Why should I care, you might ask. Well…. I care. This is one of my social groups, people I do stuff with, and our interaction is part of what makes playing fun these days. The personality I express has up to now formed my identity. Meeting in person introduces an unknown element. Not a bad one,  just unknown. Stirring the pot, if you will.

I’m not generally an insecure person in this way – usually I really enjoy meeting new people. Maybe it’s just that there’s an unfamiliar kind of pressure. It’s unusual for me to meet someone in person *after* I’ve had hours and hours of conversation with him or her. Not sure of the protocols, maybe.

Note to self: No dancing on table in fur bikini in RL parties.

Note to self: No dancing on table in fur bikini in RL parties.

One thing that most definitely affects me about this is the role I play. Not in a fake sense, but in the sense that I have a lot of roles in life, friend, mentor, advisor, teacher, colleague, daughter, landlord… and in WoW, my role is still a bit of the “new kid,” somewhat inexperienced… not sure what else. This shindig tonight will have people from other parts of my life, as well. So figuring out where the line is in, say, how many friendly insults are acceptable, or whether or not I can dance on the table, is awkward.  Okay, I probably won’t be dancing on the table, but you get the point.

That said, I’m excited! Fun fun.

And if you’re really good, I’ll tell you about the time I did meet in person someone I became very close to in game first.

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5 responses to “Online offline

  1. I have insight on this from two different perspectives: meeting people from a game that didn’t have voice chat, and meeting people from a game that did have voice chat.

    In the game without voice chat, I built up personalities over time for all the people I knew, then when I went to meet them, many, many of my preconcieved assumptions were wrong. I was highly disappointed in most everyone I met because my internal bar had been set so high.

    In WoW, however, I hear everyone talking in vent. I already know their personalities and so my vision of them is well within human limits. When I met them, their physical appearance was pretty meaningless. It was the personality I was going to meet, not the body.

    A romantic interest might be a different story, I suppose. Physical attractiveness is still a large part of the sexual fantasy.

  2. @ Copernicus I think it’s exactly the kind of disappointment you refer to when you met the ones you didn’t use voice chat with that i worry about. I think, in fact, that is the reason I like to tell people things about me. Not that I’m assuming I’ll meet everyone, but that somehow I feel more comfortable thinking they have a more complete picture of me.

    It’s funny, too, how much of a difference hearing the voice makes. Maybe the more senses we get to use, the more clearly we perceive…

  3. For me, physical qualities are the smallest piece of my relationship triangle. I am much more interested in:

    1. Intelligence – is the person able to discuss their various topics of interest in an intellectual fashion. (yes, I’m a bit of an intellectual snob)
    2. Sense of humor – do they appreciate puns and other word play, which is my prefered method of joking around, even if it elicits groans. :-)

    From conversation in Vent, it is pretty easy to pick up on those two qualities.

    As for hearing voices making a big difference, text can be interpretted in dozens of different ways, and is largely up to the reader to determine tone and inflection. A person may be writing an objective, emotionless account of events, but the person reading it could read heat and anger in the words and take it as an attack of some sort. Actually hearing someone speak the words adds clarity of intent, preventing a large amount of misinterpretation.

    Hmm, all that to say, I think you’ll be just fine.

  4. ty :) I think I will be too. I think the nervousness is actually part of what makes it so fun :)

    And you are so right about Vent conversations making things like you mention clearer.

    I think one of the things that’s really interesting about all this are those transitions – text to vent, vent to in person. Each one brings an adjustment of sorts, both in my way of interacting and in my responses to folks.

  5. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    And don’t forget the pictures of the fur bikini!

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