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.
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.