There is nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We have taken over this blog. If we wish to make it louder, WE WILL TYPE IN ALL CAPS. If we wish to make it softer, we will change the font to a whisper. We will control the pictures. We will control the content. You are about to experience the awe and randomness that extends from my inner mind to- the outer limits of sanity.
Emily generally calls me “Firsty”, but you can call me Matt. I’m the guy on the other side of the keyboard from Emily, and she is graciously allowing me a turn at the blog today. (‘Graciously allowing’? That makes it sound like you gave me a choice….) I’m thirty-eight, happily married, and less happily employed. I serve and sometimes bartend at two different restaurants. I’ve been doing it for over fifteen years, a mixed blessing. On one hand, I’m a damned good server and a decent bartender; experience and intelligence are a tough combination to beat. On the other hand, Steve Dublanica, blogger and author of Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip, was right when he said most servers are in transition, waiting tables as a temporary stop on their way to some other life goal. Fifteen years of failure to move on is draining on the most resilient soul, and I don’t think my soul is particularly resilient. Moreover, my wife (also a server) and I want to start a family, something difficult to do amidst the instability of inconsistent incomes and unpredictable schedules. Ironically, everything I’ve read about it suggests that my dream job is even less stable than serving. I want to be a writer, which means I’m jealous of Emily because she already is. I’m well aware that statement alone could put a therapist’s firstborn through college…
I’m terribly confused sometimes by the question of how to explain Emily, particularly to people (like my wife) who aren’t engaged in Second Life. After all, in one narrowly literal way of looking at things, I’m a married man of almost forty who spends hours every week pretending to explore an imaginary world as a twenty-something single girl in skimpy clothing. Although I won’t deny occasional creeper moments, (You better not! I have pictures somewhere…), Emily is more than that. My best explanation is an analogy. Many actors have immersed themselves in a role, only to argue with a director that a script isn’t right, their character wouldn’t behave that way. Many authors have shared the feeling of a character in a book taking on a ‘life of their own’ and not just doing what the writer wanted them to do. For me, Emily is that fictional character who has taken on a life of her own, and I love logging in to see what she is going to do next, not to mention where she will end up and how she will look while she’s doing it.
My two sources for blogging ideas when I need an inspiration are WordPress.com’s Daily Prompt and Strawberry Singh, who is, as far as I’m concerned, the definitive Second Life blogger. I don’t have the hero-worship-crush Emily does for Strawberry, but I am very impressed by her and I’m pretty sure I would be as tongue-tied meeting the RL Strawberry as Emily would be meeting Strawberry in SL. This experiment- writing a blog entry as myself rather than through Emily’s voice- actually arose when ideas from both places coalesced into one inspiration. For the ‘I’ve seen the future’ blog entry I wrote recently, I imagined I would occasionally guest blog for myself. Some of my visitors come here from ‘real life’ links, and at least one of my goals for the blog: to keep writing and develop my writer’s voice, is more about real life than Second Life. My blogs often touch tangentially on the whole “how much of Emily is me and how much is from somewhere else” question, so it seemed like something that could logically grow out of what I had blogged so far. From there it was a small step to actually try it and see what happens. The second idea I suggested in the comments area for one of Strawberry’s posts last week, ‘Falling in Love’. Her sheepishness about trying to explain to an RL boyfriend that she had an SL alter ego, reminded me of my own sheepishness. Which is amplified because Emily is a girl, and because Emily has a bigger digital footprint than I do. My imaginary alter ego is not only more successful at my dream, being a writer, than I am so far- she has more ‘fame’ and presence on the web than I do. Apparently my hypothetical therapist’s firstborn is going on to grad school… Anyway, I suggested there was potentially a Monday Meme in the whole question of digital footprints, and I wanted to put it into a more usable form for Strawberry.
So here it is, an idea for future use:
Digital Footprint Meme Instructions: First, measure your digital footprint. Google yourself (or Bing yourself or Yahoo yourself if you really must…) under both your real life name and your second life name and look over what comes up. Then post a picture inspired by the phrase ‘digital footprint’ and/or answer the following questions. (P.S. Don’t show us your searches unless you want us all to see your real life name as well.)
- How did the two digital footprints compare, and did that surprise you? In movies, I’ve seen characters google themselves to find out what the world knows about them, and I always assumed it was Hollywood taking liberties. Kind of like CSI is within the realm of scientifically plausible, but ignores that real crime labs don’t have the time or budget to do what is routine upon the show, or gets fingerprint hits immediately and DNA results just as soon as two characters finish discussing another clue. Google your own name and you get millions of results, including lots of people who share your first or last name, but the google results you are actually looking for are buried somewhere in the middle. So I was shocked when I googled Emily Marik and immediately saw pictures I’ve published on the blog for image search, links to my blog, to an article my friend and fellow blogger Zee wrote about an outing we did together, a link to my proto-blog on tumblr, even links to the facebook account I set up in Emily’s name. (Yes, she’s on Facebook, sort of, and I’m not. Another therapist issue, I’m sure.)
- Does anyone interesting share your name? Admittedly, part of the reason for Emily and I’s respective results is name sharing. In addition to the uncounted ‘just normal schmucks’ who share my name, there is also a backup musician and a screenwriter who happen to share my name. Neither is famous enough to be a household name, but both are in that semi-famous/almost famous range, both have professional reasons to want to push their name out more, and so I’m not the most relevant me in Google’s eyes. There are no famous or even borderline famous Emily Mariks with whom Emily must compete. If Emily happened to be named Angelina Jolie or even Tess Gerritsen, finding her footprint would have been a lot trickier.
- Are you happy with the size of your digital footprint, or do you wish either one was larger/smaller? Despite a slightly neurotic response to the realization that my fictional/imaginary alter ego has a bigger footprint than real me, once I had a chance to think about it, I’m o.k. with how things stand. I like my privacy. Things may be different once I start getting things published and have a valid reason to encourage people to know who I am, but at the moment, I’m content that creditors and nuisance suit lawyers have to work to find me. (Although most of the creditors are finally under control and I’m not in any nuisance lawsuits that I know of…) Emily is a blogger: she wants readers, so I’m glad she’s findable and hope she becomes even bigger. At this point, I think I may even consider publishing under her name rather than mine, just because she is easier to find and therefore to promote.
- If you woke up/ logged in one morning to discover over night you had suddenly gained rock-star status, and everybody knew who you were and wanted to know what you were doing… what would you do? Panic? I would definitely use my new found fame as a ‘bully pulpit’ to send a few endorsements, both positive and negative, to some people and causes that need endorsing. That part would be fun. Particularly the negative endorsements. I’m fairly non-confrontational and don’t believe in burning bridges- but I also believe anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Once it’s time to burn a bridge, I’m bringing plenty of gasoline and dynamite. On the other hand, since I am a fairly private person, and I’m not a fan of change, I would also be pretty nervous about living under the spotlight.
Two quick post scripts: First, Emily would be upset with me if I didn’t take time to point out that today she’s wearing the Simplicity Golden Silks from Roawenwood. She’s recently used the belly button jewel that came with the outfit, so today I had her wear the whole outfit. (Firsty, there really isn’t enough cloth here to justify calling it a whole outfit. Particularly when you made me take the first photo in a snow field…) The shape underneath is PetiteDollyDDD from Alady Island, what passed for a curvy shape back in the days before Lolas and Phat Azzes. The skin is one of many *Jstyle freebies, the Kesia, and the hair is the Calla ImSoElegant. The hose, heels, collar, earrings, and tattoos were all just odds and ends we’ve collected over time.
Second post script: I should have finished this post yesterday, but my wife and I lucked into a rare evening off together and went to see Gravity, which is particularly worthy of note since Gravity was the movie that Strawberry saw that helped trigger this blog entry. For the record, like Strawberry and her new beau, my wife and I agreed the picture was breathtakingly beautiful but otherwise disagreed. She loved it. I didn’t care for it. I didn’t hate it or think it was badly made, I just never really cared. I wouldn’t use the phrase “boring and predictable” that Strawberry ascribed to her date, but I can see where it would come from. Most movies are semi-predictable because there are certain rules and structures to good story. You generally know the protagonist is going to ‘win’, but you care because you are invested in the protagonist, you want to see how they win, and you wonder about what cost they may pay for winning. I wasn’t invested in the characters in Gravity. Enough bits and pieces of back story were revealed to make an interesting vignette or scene, but not enough for a full story. End result, for me the story was flat and not really that interesting. Since Strawberry said her new beau is into long intellectual discussions I’ll guess that like me, he is someone who leads with his mind not his heart, (T rather than F if you are into Myers-Briggs classifications), and theorize that reaction to Gravity ultimately depends on how much empathy you have for Sandra Bullock’s character.
- I have seen the future and it is now, only more so… (sltimewellwasted.wordpress.com)
- Falling in Love (StrawberrySingh.com)