Virtual worlds saving lives is something I have wanted to talk about for a long time now. I have still not fully found the correct words to express this delicate yet important topic adequately. More details about my personal experience with this will follow in future blog posts.
This poster is one I made as part of “The Challenge For Sustainable Computing ” module in my Computer Science Meng. Virtual worlds have formed an important part of my life.
I remember almost bursting into tears back in 1999, sat in a cinema watching “The Matrix“. When they came out with “Your appearance now is what we call ‘residual self-image’. It is the mental projection of your digital self”… wow. I am sure I am not the only sufferer of incongruence to be deeply affected by that line.
It was many years later that I first joined a 3d virtual world. When creating an avatar for the first time I realised what I was doing. For many people making an avatar is a work of art or a fictional character. When I made my avatar it was a projection of my inner self. The level of relief I felt was incredible.
Virtual worlds gave me much more than a direct relief from dysphoria, however. The interests I generated as a result of entering Second Life and then OpenSim grids later led me towards a university course.
I am certainly not the only person to have gained from the use of virtual worlds in this way. In my time as a resident of many virtual worlds, I have met many other transgender men and women. There are other groups who suffer incongruence with their bodies too. Anyone who suffers this separation between how they feel to how their body physically is could benefit.
Incongruence with your body is debilitating. Suicide rates among sufferers are well above normal averages. I look forward to expanding this topic over time. For now, I am happy to have found what I feel is a nice introduction to the concept of virtual worlds saving lives.