Virtual presence

I have a virtual presence – a presence online in the digital world of the Internet. In fact, I have several of them. There is this one where I blog as myself and bringing my true presence to life.

Then there are others . . . one of which might surprise you.

I am a warlock on the game World of Warcraft. I am also a priest and a mage. While I can easily become as addicted to anyone else to computer games (I mastered the original Tetris past level 20 within a week), World of Warcraft (affectionately known as WOW) requires enough presence and intellectual engagement as to make me tired and say goodnight within a couple of hours. I don’t watch television regularly, so WOW is my recreational escape from reality.

Just by its title, you should know that my characters kill ugly mean monsters and members of the opposing factions to defend themselves and protect others. We slaughter animals to make food. I don’t necessarily enjoy the killing part (although I am an ancient warrior and part of my purpose in this existence is to learn peaceful ways of resolving conflict; still, my first reaction whenever I hear about child molesters, is “just shoot them”). I also am an herbalist and a tailor, which is interesting in itself. But the only way to obtain the herbs and goods to make clothing is to go out into the big mean world and get it.

Out in the big mean world are characters who attack me.

But it is not real. The people behind the characters are real and that is why I like connecting there. When someone I know is off traveling even on the other side of the world, they can log on to WOW and we can play together, talk, and socialize. But I know full well that the characters I am staring at on my computer screen are not real. They just feel like it.

My warlock was well geared, too. She had top-of-the line armor, weapons, trinkets, rings, potions, and amulets that made her indestructible if I played her right. Note that I said “was” at the beginning of this sentence.

That’s because all her stuff got stolen. Someone hacked my WOW account and stripped her of all her money, gear, herbs, cloth, and food. Then, they started in on my priest and mage. Fortunately, I happened to log on in the middle of that and changed the password several times in a row to shut them out. I did all the right things: contacted WOW (they have a good history of retrieving the stolen items), changed passwords everywhere, changed my personal information, and then uninstalled the add-on program for WOW that I think made my account vulnerable.

None of the items stolen were real at all and I know the people who stole the items will sell them at the virtual vendors and auction house for virtual gold. I lost about 7,000 virtual gold and the cost of the gear maybe totaled 500 gold. So, why would anyone steal virtual stuff to get virtual gold? The 7,500 in virtual gold will buy them some virtual gear. And, in the real world there are people who will pay real cash money for virtual gold so they can just buy the gear instead of taking the time to play the game to earn the gear. Total in real money? About forty ($40.00) bucks.

Isn’t that just like real life?

The gear is replaceable. Even if WOW does not restore it, it is just a matter of time and playing the game to get what I need.

What is not replaceable is the virtual trust and good feelings I had from playing the game. They stole virtual stuff, does that mean I my anger and sadness are virtual, too? I am mourning their loss. Those emotions feel pretty real to me. Putting the episode into perspective helps me keep them in check. I think about people who have lost their entire homes and families. That does not mean that my feelings are not justified; they are — I just need to be honest about what it is I am angry, sad, and grieving for.

The impact on the thieves cannot be undone either. They learned stealing as a way of life, and probably have had parts of their lives stolen from them. Stealing is how they survive. I don’t know the circumstances of the thieves. I don’t know what makes them have to steal. I am lucky. I can go out and make my life, restore my characters, make new ones if I want . . . I have a keen sense of my ability to choose. My virtual items are still a part of the One and will return to me if that is what is good for me.

©by Barbara L. Kass

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10 Responses to “Virtual presence”

  1. jeffstroud Says:

    Good morning,

    Amazing how you have enfolded both worlds together, thought process comparing behavior of one world to another.
    I have never much played computer games, I am not much for games in general. At a time I did play Laura Croft for a bit, but realized the violent behavior disrupted something within me. Yet I was fascinated for awhile, and had the kept the thoughts of being someone else saving the world.

    I understand your confusion and frustrations with thieves in your virtual world. If they only used their creativity for something else.

    Anyway I have no idea what the heck I am writing about. Mind, body, and spirit seem to have got caught in a bog somewhere? Off to see if I can get unstuck !

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Jeff — thanks for stumbling by! 😀 I, too, really abhor the violence unless I can keep it in virtual perspective, but often I just play to herb or make stuff. I think you are very unstuck and have just found yourself in a new and different place. Let us know what you find.

  2. Kathy Smith Says:

    There is nothing very glamorous about the criminal, the breaker of his pledge, the betrayer of his friend or group. Such people are simply psychotic.

    Individual rights were not originated to protect criminals but to bring freedom to honest men. Into this area of protection then dived those who needed “freedom” and “individual liberty” to cover their own questionable activities.

    Only the criminally inclined desire a society in which the criminal is free to do as he pleases.

    The criminal, no matter what harm he is doing to others, is also seeking to destroy himself. He is in protest against his own survival.

    People steal things because they wish they could be you.

    I feel like I am ranting. This is such a good blog and good example of the dangerous environment we live in on earth where it’s healthy to look around and find things that are not threatening and your writing does that for me in a troubled world. Thanks over and over for your insight.

  3. Barbara Kass Says:

    Hi, Kathy — I am fascinated by your comment “he is in protest against his own survival.” That really is the core: if the criminals destroy all they can take from, they will destroy themselves because there will be nothing left to steal from. I keep thinking about the catastrophe in the Gult and think that is just one big warning to us all.

    I very much appreciate you coming by, Kathy!

  4. holessence Says:

    Barbara, that’s an incredible story. The part that resonated the most with me is your statement:

    “I have a keen sense of my ability to choose.”

    And while others may choose the low road, your choice is the more difficult one — the high road. I applaud you.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie — I can’t control whether or not someone decides to try and steal from me. All I can do is limit my exposure to such people and respond from my true self. I am very clear that the incident upset me, but I am in charge of just how much I am going to allow it to upset me, how many and what kind of stories I tell myself about it, and how I choose to proceed from here. Thank you so much for all of your affirmation and support.

  5. sandiwhite Says:

    What a flaming crock….I have no deep insights on what makes a thief do what he or she does, I have a black and white perspective on this…. A thief is a thief is a thief. This was not a hungry refugee stealing a loaf of bread. This is a mindless act of criminal one-upmanship. This is stealing for the pure love of theft, taking what does not belong to them. I have been burglarized three different times in my life. It has made me wary of owning things that other people will come into your house and take. For instance, I no longer own guns, expensive sound equipment or keep my good jewelery at home. Every time I was robbed guns were stolen, cash taken and once…even my tickets to an Elton John concert. I would never make an impartial judge, I believe in retribution in the here and now. Games are about fun and skill and a broader perception of life. For this virtual theft you are now feeling real anger, loss of trust, and betrayal. In this case I would not blink twice at a virtual killing and real exposure of the miscreant.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      What part(s) are a flaming crock to you, Sandi? I wrote a lot of things up there. I have had “real life” things stolen. I had my vehicle broken into twice (one time they grabbed the wrong bag and made off with my students’ final exams . . . everyone got an “A”). Back in El Paso when I owned a Ford Mustang, I had my tail lights stolen twice. At $250 a pop, that really hurt me as a struggling single mother. So, I do understand being the victim of such crimes. In this blog, my purpose was to take a step back and allow myself to decide what the thieves took from me. I am not going to give away my power to decide how I am going think and feel and respond. As for virtual killing, it is not my nature to take that kind of retribution. Banned for life from online gaming communities . . . yes.

  6. sandiwhite Says:

    The fact that they would steal for the thrill of stealing. There was nothing ” real” to be had, just the attitude of burning someone. I stayed terrified of coming home by myself at night, and the feeling still comes back at times. Of course, as you say, this is all virtual. I know nothing about the rules of World of Warfare,

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Well, the rules online are the same as they are offline: play nice, be polite, share, don’t steal. People get kicked off the game for using four-letter words, harrassing someone, or for any sexual innuendos. I know the feeling you describe about being afraid to come home alone at night. I had an alarm system at my townhouse just for that reason and I set it religiously when I went to bed and when I left home in the morning.

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