Tuesday, March 18, 2008

/me wonders about talking in the third person

My friend Airish recently informed me that talking about oneself in the third person is considered to be a sign of mental impairment in meatspace. I was taken aback and compelled to consider my practice of the art of the whispered aside.

The /me prefix is often used to communicate action that is difficult or impossible to carry out in Second Life. It is commonly used in flirtation and SLex to create a heightened sense of immersion. Now that I think about it, I wonder whether it also depersonalizes to some degree. For instance, there is definitely a visceral difference between:

"I reach out and softly touch your cheek" and
"Botgirl reaches out and softly touches Airish's cheek."

The second form feels more distant. It places me in the role of storyteller rather than participant. To some degree, it also abstracts the other person into a character rather than a being I'm connecting with.

I also use the /me prefix to feign that what follows is a "hidden" thought or feeling. Instead of saying:

"I am wating patiently" I say
"Botgirl waits patiently."

I often use the third person as a comedic or dramatic device. It provides a flavor to the communication that serves as a kind of meta-data. It allows for the expression of thoughts that might otherwise feel too forward if expressed conventionally.

Finally, I wonder if the textual nature of chat is what makes its use so common here. I don't believe it is used in voice chat.


Botgirl appreciates your kind attention to her little ramblings.


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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at http://fourworlds.tumblr.com