by FEMAELSTROM, HSM team writer
Author’s note: As I finished writing this, Jin Lovelace’s article came out — it was similar in spirit, and he did one thing that I thought was interesting. He posted pictures of himself as his avatar and his actual appearance for the comparison. I took that as inspiration and decided to follow in his footsteps. Thanks, Jin; great idea.
I sat and thought about who I am. Not in that “where do I fit in the universe of existence” way. Instead, in the way that made me ponder how I am similar and yet different from my onscreen persona known as FEMAELSTROM.
Introductions first. I am Jake, and yes I do have a middle and last name and there is even a number at the end of my name but those aren’t so important right now. I was named after a gun-toting devil of a man that was my grandfather who was buried on the day I was born. All the members of my family have initials that are ‘RM’ except me.
When I came to Home I didn’t think hard of what I was going to wear. I didn’t think it would matter too much, really. I wore some of the free default clothing, but quickly learned of the trolls’ rancor for that, and soon after thought to buy some clothes. The first thing I bought was a costume from the LucasArts Star Wars collection: Rahm Kota the Jedi. From the day I first left my Harbor Studio adorned in that gear, with a ponytail and a Van Dyke beard (which I’ve sported for many years now in real life), I realized that was what I thought would be a great persona to project here in Home. There was an appeal to me to be a calm and gentle Jedi. It was an image I could relate to in my real life (although, no, I can’t move things with my thoughts).
I hadn’t thought of the impact that FEMAELSTROM would have on Jake and vice versa. The thought that we are sometimes different people here or simply extensions of ourselves is important in order to understand ourselves on Home vs. the real world.
I am a gentleman and I have always tried to conduct myself with a certain dignity. That dignity is what keeps me from doing the troll things that are so common. As FEMA, I don’t wear punk clothing — and I as Jake have never done so, either. I don’t treat women poorly, and I am slow to wrath, even in the worst cases. These are all Jake attributes, and I offer my apologies if I seem ‘braggy’ about me, but I think it’s important though to recognize these things because this is where I start to fade into the gray area that is FEMAELSTROM. I have worked so hard to make FEMA like Jake. I try to make FEMA (and have failed as I, Jake, am still human) a decent, kind, and understanding avatar that anyone can talk to. The things that are “me” I have worked to put into FEMA.
There are some things that I am, as FEMA though, that I may not be in real life. FEMA is far better dressed than I am. FEMA is far more comfortable speaking in groups and to the fairer gender. These are places that Jake fails miserably. It’s a wonder that I have ever had romance in my life. There are many things that FEMA does with ease that Jake doesn’t. The question is this, and I ask it to everyone that is reading:
Who are you in relation to your persona and avatar?
Would you dress in the real world the way you dress your avatar if you could?
Do you really like the life you try to represent through your avatar and Home persona?
Personally, I’m very much like my FEMA creation. He is modeled after me, just as I have picked up some traits from him. Whereas I could not speak to women with ease, or strangers for that case, FEMA has approached many people and made many friends, just from his open and forward attitude. Jake has learned a few things from this. Certainly, one could contest that FEMA is merely doing what Jake tells him by way of the controller, but there is an aspect here that is in play.
When we have our PS3 controllers in hand, we do change, if even slightly. FEMA is an excellent dancer and can run farther and probably faster than Jake ever could. I couldn’t dance if my life counted on it. But that controller in hand (mine is red) can afford us the luxury to do things that we may have never thought to, like approach people, stand up and talk in front of a crowd, dance a dance that may be funny or swanky — whereas we would never do this in our real walk. For me, the avatar lets me take chances that I probably would have never done with Jake.
Certainly some people have taken the opportunity to do things that are harmful or annoying, but many people have also taken the chance to do things that step out of the shells of comfort we all have, and do something new and brave, if even in the virtual.
There are things that I wear in the virtual world that I would love to wear in the practical world. Some fall in the line of cosplay like my Kota wear or my costume from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, but the other items in question are easier to answer. I would wear the proper clothes that FEMA has. FEMA has shown me that this wear is something that I would love to really wear and looks good, and taught me that it is more acceptable when trying to make friends.
I believe this becomes more of an issue with the ladies of the audience where there is a large amount of wear that is risque and provocative. Many women I know refuse to wear the clothes that are leaning in this direction, and in such, their personal views are reflected in their avatars. I have also known women that live wilder lives than their avatars, and thus they embrace the virtual lifestyle and are comfortable with being a real person offline and keeping their avatars’ lives online and separate. There are such vast combinations of lives here that we are all bound to fit a category, even if we define our own.
I guess the bottom line is: do you represent your private offline life in your avatar or are they two separate and distinct personae? There is no wrong answer; this is not to point out the ones that do or don’t. This is just the observation of whether or not we are us. Is Jake FEMA, and vice versa? That question is one that those that know me may have to help answer, but from my view, I have helped FEMA with his disabling shyness just as much as he has helped Jake. FEMA helped Jake talk to people and deal with annoying and disturbing circumstances as Jake has helped FEMA deal with the same
We are all someone a little different on Home, I believe. This is not a bad thing. We are all a little braver perhaps, a little cooler, because we don’t have to show our frailties. We put forward the “us” we want to be. I won’t show anyone the one animal that really grosses me out, or my Facebook page would be swamped with pictures of that one animal. I don’t have to tell anyone of my fear of heights and that I hate gas guns from a hygiene standpoint. So, um, forget I said that.
Everybody has these things too. so who ever you are, whatever your walk in the realm of Home, think if you are putting forward the you that you want to be. Are you like your avatar and persona, or are they contrasts to you? Or are you like me, where one faded into the other and the two share a great number of similarities?
Being FEMAELSTROM is a lot of fun, and he has shown Jake a great time; like shadows to each other, they are one and the same.