Avatars and Self Image

In today’s society technology allows us to assume different pseudonyms. I think that librarians can sometimes be weary of this because it can be very unfamiliar, so I have composite an animated gif, that displays all of the different images I use to label myself.

Avatars
First I have my favorite webcomic- Dominic Deegan. I have been reading it for years, and become an active participant on the forums. I don’t really wear t-shirts but I have one from Mookie (the creator). Web comics are a part of my day. The first thing I do every morning is check the updates. (some nights I’ve stayed up until 3 am to catch it) In addition to reading the comic I am part of the online community of fans on the forums. We have interesting conversations and activities, the most recent being a caption contest, and before that I held a trivia contest. I will never meet my friends from the forum but to me they are the avatars and the screennames. Its how I would address them in public and online.

Second I have my name. In all definitions this is also a representation of me. When I publish, fill out a form, or introducing myself, I am representing who I am with random syllables and letters essentially. It is one of the conventions we accept in all cultures, some change to reflect the person while others are given with an ideal in mind(whether the memory of a loved one or story character, or a verb/noun that represents something wanted for the child)

Third is a picture of my husband and I. He has his arms around me in a loving embrace. The picture was taken at our anniversary. I am smiling (something I tend to do frequently).

Fourth is the word “is”. Such a powerful word. Is can link words together to describe poetically, hatefully, or simply. It can be anywhere, but it is the word that links all the other words of a sentence.

Avatars

Eiseldora Next we have my gnome. Isn’t she cute? My husband drooled and waited for almost a year to get World of Warcraft, and guess what happens. I take it over after my finals on Christmas break to create a level 33 fire mage in about 17 days. I am an officer in the “Little League” Guild, and caretaker of noobs. My two best friends are Zwws a Chinese grad student from Canada, and Ihalfaman a Australian master’s student who programs computers. This may seem odd to people who don’t play but for me its a whole different world where I can meet people, work together to finish goals, and have fun. The lag is terrible, but I kept returning because I love what I can be there. I think this is a big appeal to teens.

Next we have Eiseldora II. I loved playing World of Warcraft so much that I kept the name for Second Life. I joined after hearing the announcement that there was going to be a library in the game. I wanted to be able to go in and see what the plans were. I started out with a normal looking avatar, but I didn’t like it. I tried to get dark blue hair with two little buns like my gnome, but while playing I found I could add any texture to my hair, so I did. I thought the Flag looked very funny so I took it as far as I could go-spikes, length, volume. Now I look like a crazed Yu-gi-oh, but I like the expression of creativity involved.

Salafy is a Naroom Magi who specializes in regenerating creatures. She is excellent with baby furoks(another avatar I use often), eebits, and rabbage. She is from the 2i game Magi-Nation. A CCG that is now sold to a different company that is taking it in a different direction. The game was more than just collecting card and making decks. I was a member of a league when I was dating my husband. I made many friends, and was able to mentor a 12 year old girl. I would spend weeks building deck, and succeeded in getting a killer combination with Ninx and a Ritual Spear. My husband loved the story’s written about the cards, and the fan base who lived on insiider. Like Dominic Deegan I have a t-shirt with Salafy on the back.

Avatars

Next I placed my username. The one I use most often is kittykat813. I have since I first used the Internet. I love cats, and I wanted something unique and nice sounding. 813 stands for my birthday-August 13th. About a year and a half ago I started to do publish my professional work on the net. I was taking an independent study reading children’s literature which I abbreviated childlit and 2004 for the year. I liked it and the account I used so I’ve been childlit2004, childlit, and childlit513, ironic since I want to be a teen librarian. The 513 stands for my anniversary May 13th.

Now you can see my adorable cat-Frisky. She has been with me since I was in 7th grade. She is very vocal, and precious. I used to write stories about her and to her. She is a great listener, and still loves to play. My whole life she has competed for my attention from books. Now she is content because my husband loves her as much as I do. (He is the only male she has ever even liked) I used pictures of her for my first avatars. She was something that was important to me, and didn’t really identify me.

The smiley face represents many things to me. The eyes are the way my friend Tracy would write smilies. Smiles also represent instant messengers. I have been using ICQ for 8 years. I met a good friend who had the same username, school, and age as my husband. Smilies also represent for me happiness and joy, something I like to enjoy often.

Lastly we have a book. Books have helped me my entire life. When my mother was ill I escaped into books, when I was sad I would write books, when I went to 8th grade I found a profound joy in reading books, in college I found a joy in sharing books, now I enjoy listening to books while I play. I am a library science student, and love technology, but its books that I will always credit for helping me through my life.

This has been a rather lengthy divulge into my online life. I know most people don’t see deep into avatars, and there is no real reason to. Its just that for a whole generation we identify with these self made images that show the world who we are, what we care about, and what we want to do. I encourage librarians to make an avatar or a username that represents them and use it online when doing virtual reference, blogging, or as links on your library’s webpage.

Posted by Jami Schwarzwalder

About Jami Schwarzwalder

Currently a teen librarian with the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, WA.She is passionate about technology, making, and learning. See what I'm up to at https://about.me/jamischwarzwalder
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One Comment

  1. Linda Braun [Member]

    Yahoo! Avatars I love this idea of the story behind the avatars people create/use. How interesting it would be to talk with teens about why/how they choose their avatars and what they think their avatars tell others about them.

    I have two avatars I tend to use. One, Jami you taught me how to make on Yahoo! It shows my propensity for wearing black and that I have a dog – although she doesn’t look like the one in my Avatar (Yahoo! doesn’t have a mutt like mine in their selection.) The other avatar I tend to use is one of someone (perhaps a superhero) jumping off a cliff. Sometimes I use it to show that I’m feeling super-heoric and sometimes I use it to show that I’m feeling so stressed I want to jump off a cliff. (Not really but…)

    I guess part of my thing is that I like to change my avatar based on who I’m communicating with and what my mood is. I think teens do the same.

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