Avatar

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If you have seen the movie Avatar, you will know it’s about a man in a wheelchair. I only said that as a joke. One of the main characters is certainly a man in a wheelchair and his avatar is able to walk; but that is not the theme of the movie. It’s about a tree obviously.

Likewise, this blog has got nothing to do with that movie. Other than the obvious; it has avatars in it. OK, so there will be one or two of you who do not know what an avatar is. Which is ironic because if you are reading this on FaceBook you already have one. Let’s use The Cambridge dictionary definition:

An image that represents you in online games, chat rooms etc…

I like that definition, there are more and fuller ones. The reason I like it, is because it is very truthful. We all have avatars of ourselves at the top of our FaceBook or other social media sites. I say avatars very deliberately. Because there are very few that are actual true to life photographs of the person. What most people do is represent themselves in some way on their Social Media. You see, even if you post a photo, it is a staged or your best photo. We choose one that shows us as we want to be seen. Pouting, staring manfully into the distance, smiling, smouldering, eyebrows raised, shoulders back chest out, wistful, wise, you get the picture; no, you are the picture.

What’s the harm in that, you say? Nothing, but it does mean that for anyone we have not met in person, only online, we have a view based on their avatar.

Let me paint two pictures:

1/ The date: You start to get to know someone online. You like how they look; or at least their avatar, and you get on with them. All your chats are in tune with each other. You like the same music, films, places, activities, this is a perfect match. So you plan to meet. Arriving at the pub you both look around for each other. No need for roses in button holes, or any of that old fashioned nonsense. This is 2021, you know what each other looks like. She is beautiful, he is a hunk. Twenty minutes go by, you pass each other several times; even bump into each other. The average looking girl and the guy with a paunch. You both end up at the bar asking different bar staff if anyone has been asking for you. Overhearing each other you look across in shock. How can these faces, these bodies have been made to look so good. You both glance at you phones, the avatars, turn them around to show the other, then burst out laughing. You are the same people after all.

2/ The disguise: there are many people who don’t like the idea of putting a photo of themselves up as an avatar at all. They use all sorts of alternatives. Cartoons, photos of their children, photos of pets, photos of animals, famous people, quotes, or they do put a photo of themselves as a child or a young adult. I have mused on this one often, are they spies? Probably not; just shy. Not everyone wants to advertise what they look like now, to the world. After all, not everyone can take the adulation and praise that some of us get on a daily basis. Wait a minute, did I mean adulation and praise? Not everyone has aged as well as me. Obviously I have not changed at all since I was in my twenties. So I don’t need to put a photo from then as my avatar; it would be moot. Obviously, I do understand. Everyone has a right to their anonymity. Plus, some of the cartoons and pictures people choose are great fun.

Well I am off to change my avatar to one of superman, make it more accurate.

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