Home > Project Endless Possibilities, Virtual Identity > Project Endless Possibilities (2): Stace Finesmith

Project Endless Possibilities (2): Stace Finesmith

(This is the second post in Project Endless Possibilities. Read more about the project here.)

  • Does your avatar look like or represent your real life self?

When I first came to SL, I was not spending money, and living off of freebies. I did then and continue to make my own shapes. At first, to learn the interface, I made my shapes using what I know about proportions in RL. I made my avie to look like me, and in human form, she still does.

  • Do you make significant changes to your avatar often?

After a short time in SL, I realized I was limiting myself in a world of possibilities. The only limits being the capabilities of the program. I change shape often, usually with my moods. I don’t limit myself to any particular type of clothing, nor shape. She will be human, furry, dragon, Tiny, animal, depending on my mood.

  • Why have you chosen to have your avatar look like he/she/it does?

I take out my love for shopping in SL, where I can experiment with clothing for relatively no money. I do sometimes take what I’ve learned with me to RL stores.

  • Do you have a signature look?

Not a planned one.

  • Is it important to you how your avatar looks?

It is VERY important how my avatar looks. It is the first thing people see, and what your avie looks like will govern how they behave towards you. I found that trying to help newbies as a furry or Tiny was less effective than as a human. I have found that I can elicit certain behaviors just by changing my avie.

  • Do you have some basics that you always wear (certain color of hair, eyes or …)?

Yes. I usually (but not always) have green eyes and blonde hair. Everything else is subject to change with the wind.

  • What does it mean to you how other avatars look? Do you avoid talking to some avatars because of their appearance?

Contrary to how I use my avies, I don’t really judge someone by their avatar. I am more likely to wait until I see how they communicate, and what they talk about. I never avoid anyone unless they are not behaving with good manners. I would be more likely to avoid someone because they were asking for pixel sex than because of their avatar. Some of my closest friends were newbies when I met them. One shoe on, one shoe off, so to speak. Some of them had horrendous avies and lousy typing skills when I met them. So what? I would not avoid someone for these reasons. I would have missed getting to know them if I had judged them by their ability to use the SL program.

(I asked Stace a follow-up question and she was sweet enough to also answer that:)

  • Do you ever have issues identifying with your avatar when you change it that often and that drastic?


How do you identify with your avatar?
Basically, all of my different avies are an expression of myself. They are all me. Whether they are human are not. This is the land of make believe. Our avatar expression is limited solely by our own imaginations and the limitations of the program itself.

(Edit 14/03/2011: Stace has been kind enough to also answer the questions added to the project after she submitted her first answers. Thank you so much, Stacey!)

  • How has your perspective on your avatar and your thoughts about your appearance changed since you first joined Second Life?

When I joined SL, I was newly unemployed and incredibly stressed out. SL became a productive thing for me, and escape from daily life. I purposely kept my avatar plain Jane, because I did not want to attract attention. I was not looking for a relationship, (I am very married, RL) but needed an outlet to get away from the RL stress in my life at the time.
My avatar was awful. I kept at least one iteration of my original to remind me of just how bad it was. The skin was terrible, the clothes not so great. After a time, I realized, again, that I was limiting myself. When time allows, I shop and find new ways to change my avatar. It’s fun for me. I don’t go for cookie cutter looks, what’s so special about looking like everyone else?
I think that it is natural to evolve in your thinking about SL along with your avatar’s looks. The avatar is an expression of the typist. Whether conscious or unconscious of the decisions around how an avatar looks, they do give other residents clues as to who the typist might be.
I saw where someone stated that they had been afraid of someone’s avie looks, and Ferris stated that he judged more on communication style. I have never been afraid of an avatar, and usually, it is the communication style that creates interest, or lack of interest. That fear of how an avatar looks is why I keep to human when I am spending time helping newbies. We can never know who the typists are, why they are trying SL out, and being new to SL can be overwhelming to many. Scaring them from the beginning is counterproductive for all residents in SL.

  • Has Second Life influenced your Real Life in any way?

Absolutely. I am not a proponent that SL and RL are separate. I find the idea to be ludicrous. We cannot just chop off a part of ourselves and isolate that part from everything else. We are a product of our environment.
My interactions with people are with real people, and I try to treat them as I would want to be treated. I have made some wonderful friends whom I have begun to meet in RL. In some cases, meet ups are impossible because of distance, but those I have met are wonderful. The first two I met was a surprise visit from them. I was blown away by their visit, and after the initial “OMG” part of it, we all settled in to conversation just like I would with any friends I’ve had for years. It was not awkward, it was not weird, other than to not have to type out everything, and try to express myself correctly in text. We talked for four hours straight, and it was not nearly long enough. These friendships have definitely influenced my RL and my confidence in myself.
As many residents have, I have had a couple of bad experiences, and a couple of friendships that went sour because of a division of beliefs. I have learned from all of these people, not just about people in general, but about myself as well. The breakdown of those friendships did affect me in RL. I am more likely to view people with more doubt until I get to know them. Seeing the inner core of a truly nasty personality will make you pause to think about who people really are.
This being said, most people that I’ve met were not mean or nasty. They are just people, however these few (less than 5) were looking to play with people’s emotions and out to make trouble. I am me in SL. I don’t role play.
My friendships in SL have changed me. For the better, I hope. The friendships, the ability to enjoy the creativity of the residents and artists, the music. The exchange of ideas from country to country. I love to learn, and find it sad when I’m talking to people in RL that they do not share my willingness to explore new ideas.

  • How do you view your avatar? Is it just a tool to be able to navigate SL, is it an aspect of your persona, a virtual representation of you or maybe your best friend?

My avatar is an expression of myself, a tool, and definitely not real. Residents are able to create a unique “doll”, for lack of a better word, that can be used to interact with other people. Those who get too steeped in SL sometimes seem to lose touch with RL.
My avatar as my best friend? ugh What a horrible concept. My best friend is warm to the touch, breathes, and sleeps with me. For better or for worse.

(Photos by Stace Finesmith)

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