“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval
By Aiden Swain
Your profile is the second (or even the first) thing others notice about you in Second Life, yet people seem more concerned about their shoes or their tattoos than they are about what they tell the world about themselves. How often is it that you see some woman with a fantastic body, gorgeous face, a lavish state-of-the-art outfit that fits perfectly and is perfectly accessorized, and then you go to her profile and see a few squiggles and stars and a smiley-face heart.
What??? Is that it? What’s that supposed to mean? Is she illiterate? Pathologically shy? Horribly dyslexic? Or just so shallow that she has nothing to say and feels she can sum up her whole being in a few squiggles and stars and a smiley-faced heart?
Because that’s not going to cut it.Now, I understand people who don’t like profiles because they think they’re too brief and superficial to really express who they are. But still, there’s no escaping it. Whatever you put in that box says something about you. Even leaving it blank says something about you. Your profile’s like your face. Just wearing a blank expression doesn’t make your face go away. It just makes you look blank. It’s not a real good look.
In fact, your profile is your public face in SL. It gives people an idea of who you are, what you’re like, what you want, and what you hate. If you’re in Second Life looking for any kind of social life or friends or business connections, you have to have an adequate profile.
On top of this, your profile is also the way you invite people in. Your profile gives people something to talk to you about, a topic of discussion so they don’t have to resort to lame conversation-starters like, “Nice-looking Av!”, “Where are you from?”, “How are you enjoying your Second Life?”, or “u want have sex w/ me?”
Go back to that fantastically attractive Av above, the one with the squiggly graphics in her profile. How’s anyone supposed to relate to her? What are they going to say? “Hey! Nice squiggly graphics in your profile!” “I see you don’t talk much, do you?” “What planet are you from?”
With all this on the line, why do so many people write miserable profiles? Well, talking about oneself is hard. Being clever and original is hard. Writing is hard. So taken all together, that makes writing a profile seem hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re not comfortable with talking about yourself, talk about your Av as if they’re someone else. Stand outside them and say what they’re like.
Or make a list. Make a list of your avatar’s qualities (loving, funny, romantic, smart-assed, depressed, angry, psychotic… whatever.) Or make a list of things you like, in SL or RL (dancing, live music, role play, french fries, erotic asyphyxiation…) Try and be as specific as you can. Generalities like, “I enjoy having fun,” or, ”I love avoiding pain” don’t really tell people a lot about you.
Lists make perfectly good profiles and avoid most of the hassles of writing. But don’t do what a lot of people do and just kind of copy a profile you like and modify it a little to fit you. Because when you do that, you’re not presenting yourself as an individual. You’re putting yourself into a group: the group of people who like that particular kind of profile. And you probably don’t want to be a part of that group, not when you realize what that type of profile actually says.
Here’s some examples of what we’re talking about: profile types and what they really mean:
1. The Blank Profile — A blank profile says a lot of things, and all of them are bad. At best, the blank profile says you’re a noob and haven’t yet learned about profiles. Either that, or you’re saying “Fuck you all I don’t care,” or “I’m dumb and pretending that my inability to write a profile is some sort of act of rebellion,” or “I’m hopelessly boring.” Another possibility is that you’re someone’s alt, here just to be used in the most abject kind of sex. Some people think the blank profile means, “Leave me alone.” It doesn’t. It means, “Say whatever you want to me.” If you really want to be left alone, write “Leave me alone!” in your profile so people don’t have to guess.
2. “Just ask” — If you want to add, “Just ask” to the end of your profile, that’s fine. But if all you have are those two words, then you’re just a step above leaving it blank. Ask you what? How much you weigh? Whether you pee in the pool? Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb? I don’t know a thing about you. That’s why I’m looking at your profile! People who have nothing but “Just ask” in their profile have no right to get offended when others take them up on their offer. And the question they most often get is, “Wanna fuck?” Hey, you told me to ask!
3. The Link-To-A-Video Profile — Sure, I’ll be happy to follow some link to a song I don’t know by a band I’ve never heard of just so I can try and guess what in the world it has to do with you. If you’re crazy about music, say so and we can talk about it. But don’t send me off like some lackey to watch your crappy video. And be aware: this song is not going to mean the same thing to anyone else as it does to you. Music’s funny that way. The video link, unless it connects to a RL vid of person behind the avatar, is a sign of an unhealthy self-absorption and severely deficient communication skills.
4.The Graphics Profile — Those graphic gestures and emotes they use in shitty dance clubs to make you think you’re having fun are no more effective when they’re in your profile gumming up the works with swirling stars, happy flowers, bursting hearts or baying wolves. They’re all a sign of someone functioning at the very margin of literacy. In a woman’s profile, they suggest she still sleeps with stuffed animals. In a man’s, that he can’t put two words together and/or is very likely underage.
5.The Quotation Profile — Quotations are okay if they express a thought or feeling better than you can yourself. Put please, avoid the vapid, generalized cliches that say nothing about you. Something like, “Friendship is the Sunshine in the Garden of Life” not only sounds sappy, but tells a reader nothing except that you like friends, as does 99.99999% of humanity as well. Unless you’re a vapid and meaningless cliche yourself, don’t represent yourself as one.
6. The Modeling Information Profile — “Miss Pixel 2011″; “2010 Runner-up, Tallest Model In SL”; “Winner, My Blog’s Most Fascinating Person, May, 2011,” &c. should be kept to a minimum. It’s nice that you won something, but inclusion of more than one or two awards is a sure sign of that suffocating narcissism that seems to be the occupational hazard of Second Life models. It also makes you look like you’re whoring for work. Refer agencies and admirers to your Picks, which is the appropriate place for listing accomplishments. On your first page, it’s just bragging.
7. Tributes to Your Partner — Gushing about your partner and how perfect your relationship is is a great way to get people to leave you strictly alone, and much more effective than just leaving your profile blank. Men will steer clear of you because you’re already taken, and women will resent you because you’re insufferably smug. No one will dance with you or talk to you, and even your friends will start to avoid you. Put your paeans to your lover in the Picks section of your profile, not on the main page. Someone who’s so in love with someone else that they put it on their first page obviously doesn’t have any interest left over for anyone else.
8.Tributes to Your Friends — A variant on the Tribute To Your Partner, using your profile to tell the world that you have friends is just kind of sad. It also means that no one loves you, so you’re making the most of being liked. It also suggests a weak personality, the kind of person who only finds meaning in a group, so it reeks of a High School mentality. It’s very unlikely anyone’s ever going to IM you and say, “Wow! Tell me all about your cool friends!”
9. The I-Got-Hurt-But-Now-I’m-Back Profile: There’s several versions of this type, some not as bad as others. At its worst, it indicates someone who’s still obsessing over a break-up and hoping their ex will read their profile and feel bad (they won’t). More charitably, it means they’ve really been hurt and are still fragile. In both cases, this profile is used by someone looking for sympathy and reasson not to have sex. But if you’re into being someone’s crying towel, go for it.
10. The Weird Alphabets Profile — Cousin to the Graphics Profile, using weird symbols and characters to spell things out tells the world you think foreign alphabets are damned funny. Even worse, it tells the world that you think other people find them damned funny too. It’s the SL version of laughing at someone’s accent, and the use of non-standard characters indicates a simple mind that’s easily amused; someone who thinks they can decorate their way out of having nothing to say.
11. The I-Can’t-Think-of-Anything-Clever-to-Say Profile — Well if that’s the case for God’s sake don’t brag about it. In any case, no one expects you to be Shakespeare or Woody Allen. Google some quotation sites and look under ‘love’ and pick something you like. Is that so hard?
You got more? Write us…
Aiden Swain is editor of Humm Magazine, the journal of love and sex in SL.