Masks

Written by Connor DeFanti on October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween from the FRL!

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to talk about masks and avatars in the virtual world.

I’ve always found the idea of choosing your appearance to be interesting. In online games and forums, people have been choosing avatars to represent themselves for decades. Sometimes, people will attempt to recreate themselves when they can. But more often than not, people choose wildly fantastical appearances, creating entirely new characters to represent themselves. And for a lot of online communities, these people are known more by their avatars than their real appearance.

I like to think about how that might evolve in a world where AR and VR systems are commonly used. In today’s society, you can choose how you represent yourself through the clothes you wear, the piercings and tattoos you get, and other similar choices. But what if every day, you could put on a new mask, like you choose your shirts today?

What masks will people choose for themselves? Would it be acceptable to go through your day to day life appearing entirely different from yourself?

How will these masks shape us and how we perceive each other? How can we use them to express ourselves?

Would we judge people based on appearance less, because it isn’t tied to their real physical appearance? Or would we judge more, since appearance would be chosen as an expression of oneself?

Maybe we won’t get to that point. It’s possible that we will always want to see each other as we are, as our societies and species have evolved for many, many years based on facial recognition.

But every year, for one day, we get a glimpse of people choosing their avatars in real life. It always makes me think of these kinds of questions.

What would you do if every day was Halloween?

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