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Was it the t-shirt?!?

Grapho is the one who created all the avatars for Burning Life. They really do fall into his domain of expertise: They are dark, textured, evocative of unconscious things. So, he has been spending a lot of time in-world lately. Now, there are some remarkable things to do with his prolonged presence. One is that no matter how often his name gets mentioned in all the note cards and no matter that his name appears on every single prim and inventory item, almost everyone he has encountered refuses to believe that he actually made these avatars. They all think that I (Alpha) made them. Or that I made them as Alpha. Whatever… In fact, when he tried to convince a group of people that he was the designer, all he got for his efforts was a “nice try, Grapho!“… !!! Don’t people look at prims anymore? It is how I do all my shopping – by looking at prims! So, what is going on here, I wonder? Second thing that happens is something that I have actually written about before: Whenever Grapho makes an appearance the women come flocking in! This is the strangest thing and in fact tonight Bettina and I discussed this, how forthright women seem to be in showing their sexual interest – far more so than men, we both concluded. When I (Alpha) log in no one gives me a second glance – which is to be expected, since in the looks department I am really nothing to write home about. However, Amina and Xia who are both really good looking do not seem to fare much better either. (And do good looks really matter? Please read on!) Not so with Grapho: We have female customers making return visits to see the guy. It has happened more than once that I or one of the other girls got asked where he was? He hadn’t been around in a while? Did we know why?

But this in not the real reason as to why I am writing this post. At least not directly anyway… What has got me thinking here does not only have to do with Grapho but also with his t-shirt. He got this a while ago; it is just a crusty old freebie with horrible seams but nonetheless he totally loves it:

If you have a tendency to take yourself too seriously the text on this thing could very well insult you, or put you on the defensive I suppose…

And today Grapho did in fact have an encounter where he managed to put another person very much on the defensive – to the extent where things got somewhat out of hand. I saved the chatter and re-examined it carefully afterwards: Nothing that he actually “said” is even remotely offensive. Really it isn’t! So why did this happen? Could it be the t-shirt? Worn by a scowling, tall man, towering over the person he was talking with? Bettina also pointed at his long hair when I told her about the encounter later in the day. So maybe that too. And the hawk nose? The crooked face. Slanted small eyes. Grapho is becoming rather good looking. And furthermore he is slowly becoming good looking in a not-conventionally-good-looking sort of a way. He is very tall and thin and long limbed and bends over ever so slightly. Gangly, I guess the word is. So, not a run of the mill, cute baby faced, muscle packed dude but someone who may well be intimidating through his ugly-beautiful presence. And furthermore wearing a t-shirt which has a condescending sort of a message written all over it!

Had it been me, with my ears and tail, would the exchange have developed in the same way? But even more to the point, would I have expressed myself in quite the same way as Grapho did? During his very early days I had Grapho talk in a deliberately uncouth manner. It was a very clumsy act of trying to adopt a different persona. Nowadays I don’t do that any more. Grapho talks exactly like I do. Or so at least I think. But does he really? As I was reading the chatter I noticed a different tone. Very subtle, but it is there. More impatient. Again, nothing he said was upsetting in and of itself. But what he said – it comes out ever so slightly differently. A bit more akin to the t-shirt perhaps. Not even that. Very hard to explain… It is this hardly tangible difference which I have noticed in the alts of others but was not aware of where my own alts were concerned. But, nonetheless it is there… Almost impossible to pinpoint what it is and how exactly it manifests – but there.

Nick Yee has conducted a study which he calls The Proteus Effect. And what he proves is that avatar appearance affects behavior and all social interactions and emotional responses. Indeed, so powerful is the impact of appearance on behavior and communication that, according to Yee’s findings, the way an avatar looks does not only carry major significance while one is in “the game” itself, but in all subsequent physical/RL interactions between the interacting agents. I had a gut instinct that this was so long before I had ever heard of Yee’s paper. Reading it made me yelp out in joy since he was really proving a thing I had always known to be true.

Is this what happened with Grapho today? I am fairly certain that it is. What he said was not anything that would have provoked a hostile response. The way he looked and stood, compounded by the stupid rights t-shirt however could have done so and, I think, did…


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