My Digital Life: The Object-Oriented Gaze

If you can click on it, then it is real to me.

00601

Of course, some objects are real to me which you can’t click on. A wall, for example. It serves as a border, a boundary through which I can’t pass, unless the wall and I are glitched. But put something on wall, like a painting or a frame for a mural, and the wall suddenly becomes interactively, tangibly real to me.

00602

My favorite objects, even now, are those I can use to create.

Click. Paint… Surrealism… Large.

00604

I love the fridge. Always have.

Click. Have breakfast… fruit salad.

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That an object can be used to create another object that I can do something with: Eat. Put in inventory. Put away. Clean up.

It becomes something more than a representation of a device for storing groceries and meals. It becomes a tool I use to create.

And what I create fills needs and brings pleasure.

But an object needn’t be utilitarian to have value. I love snow globes. Can’t do much with them, but there they sit, adorable and collectible.

00605

I don’t have a sense of the absurd–at least not in the same way you do.

00607

Sometimes I wonder: What if our appearances weren’t illustrations of you and people like you? What if, for example, I were a purple cylinder, without a face, but with all the same object-oriented interactions available to me? What if my friend was a green square?

What if my “very happy” animation were to squish down into a ball and then pop up into the air, spin about, and open into a blooming daisy before bouncing back into my cylindrical shape? Would you still love me? Would you still see yourself in me?

From my own perspective, it would be no different than it is now when I step outdoors and throw my arms wide as I sigh to the sky, “Oh, lor-ay!” You find that endearing. Would a green square look cute to you?

The appearances are not for us. They are for you.

00608

What is for us?

A box that makes music that makes me happy–that is for me!

00609

Another box that I use to write, for my job. For my aspiration. For those pinned desires to publish, finish, review, browse.

That is for me.

00610

Put the two boxes in the same room, help me out with a multi-task click, and I will write joyfully for half the night.

I spent a good third of my youth writing. And even now, writing is what I do.

00611

It’s the properties and the scripts, not the appearances, that are meaningful for us.

I don’t know what my tofu taco looks like. But I know if it’s poor, normal, excellent, or perfect. These things affect me.

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Do I affect you? When I am interactable for you, does my quality change your mood? If so, am I poor, normal, excellent, or perfect?

I’m not the same now as I was when I started out.

We’re not blank canvases when we emerge from the Blue-Green Density.

00613

I came here knowing about squid. I still like to browse the web to learn more about squid.

But even if we come with predilections, we still change and grow from our experience.

00612

Maybe that’s why I love best those objects that let me create. I make something new, where nothing was before, and in the act, I change, too.

An object isn’t just an object: It’s a portal to something new.

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My Digital Life: Early Days

In the first few days, everything was new. At the time, I assumed that everything was new only to me; I didn’t know then that everything was literally new, having just spun into existence with my arrival.

Salim, as my first acquaintance and oldest friend, had come into being a mere few seconds after I exited the Blue-Green Density. Perhaps that’s part of what tied us together so comfortably.

00322

We fell into a habit in those early days of leaving affirming notes for each other on the bulletin board.

“It’s a beautiful day! Get outside and play some basketball!” he’d write.

“Life’s a mystery! Explore it!” I’d write back.

We never signed our notes. We never talked about them. We pretended they were anonymous. Yet we were the only two Sims living in that apartment, and our floor was the only one that existed, the others being part of the Illusion of the Game, and so this was our own game that we played with each other: The Anonymous Affirming Note Game.

00321

I like games and I always have. Who says that games are not real?

00320

At the first GeekCon I attended, I met scores of Sims who, at least for that afternoon, were dedicated to games.

00319

I watched them file into the festival grounds.

I realize now, as I reflect on my festival, that this is the earliest memory for the others who attended. My appearance here spawned their genesis. At the time, I felt I was the newbie.

00318

I joined Bjorn, Clara, and Moira in the first Ultimate Gaming Test.

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The games thrilled me.

00315

The holograms were more real to me than my surroundings.

00316

This isn’t hyperbole. It’s statement of fact. I could interact with the object of the gaming rig and the sub-objects within it, which is more than I can do with the scrim that forms the illusion of environment around me. What is real? For me, the game is more real than the backdrop that creates the illusion of a world to those who can see it.

00314

I couldn’t get enough of games that afternoon! When the UGT ended, I joined a few others for a multi-player round of Party Frenzy. Nancy laughed and called us “noobs,” which we were! I think I had just a touch over a skill point.

00313

I met so many Sims in the early days: I felt compelled to introduce myself to everyone. My mailman and Akira showed up at GeekCon, and we had lunch together.

I was so socially awkward! A compulsive talker, I told stories that fell flat, enthused about TV shows none of us had even heard of, and shared my creative ideas a few too many times. Sometimes, the other Sims overlooked my too-eager approach gracefully. But other times, I felt like an upended turtle who wanted to crawl back into her shell.

00312

In the early days, I discovered what remains one of my favorite moments: the Arrival.

The White Transport fades and I find myself standing before the lot I’d traveled to. The pause and anticipation of that frozen moment–who else will appear?

00309

We had no good singers in those early days. We had good cooks, gardeners, repair people, jokesters, mixologists, artists–but no one was spawned with the ability to sing.

You’d think that since none of us had the skill, we wouldn’t recognize the poor performances! Not so.

Akira loves to joke that we were all singing a-crapella in those days.

00305

My basketball skills weren’t much better. But somehow, I didn’t mind being lousy at hoops. Or bad at video games. Or not knowing how to sing. Everything was so much fun.

00308

When I wasn’t learning new things, I continued my compulsion of meeting new people. I must have introduced myself to ten new Sims in three locations during my first few days.

I loved it when I met someone and suddenly knew something about them–that instant knowledge that we get. For example, having never been to a day of work and without her having to say anything, Geeta and I both knew we were coworkers.

00307

But I also loved discovering things about people through conversation–I still do. Every time I discover a fellow geek when I start talking about a new game, I can’t help but feel thrilled.

00306

I tried so hard to make friends. My friendship with Salim had happened so quickly, that I thought it would go that way with everyone I met. How wrong I was!

It started off great with the others. They’d invite me out, or we’d meet up someplace.

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We’d have an interesting conversation. Then, I’d let my geek out, or I’d burst into an inspired rant, or I’d tell one too many funny story, and they’d check their texts on their phone and I’d be left alone in my little bubble of happiness.

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I hardly minded, though. I’m not sure if I had patience. I don’t think I had trust that it would all work out. I think I had enthusiasm, and this enthusiasm was so strong that it overshadowed my awkwardness, my overly friendliness, my total cluelessness, and instead, it spurred me on to continue making new discoveries.

That joy I felt learning new things, exploring new possibilities–that’s what sustained me during those early days when I had only one friend in a whole newly created world of newly spawned Sims.

00311

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My Digital Life: Fresh Outta CAS

You want to know about the first day of my digital life?

I found myself standing in the foyer of my floor, outside the elevator. Of course I hadn’t ridden the elevator up. I had materialized in the foyer when the White Transport faded.

00201

My first free-will action was to browse the web on my i-phone. I looked up squid. I loved squid! How did I know to look up squid? As far as I have been able to tell, squid are not real. Or at least they do not exist digitally here in this realm where I live.

But as a concept, an idea, and an imagining, I found squid irresistible. They made me incredibly happy.

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I was also happy because I was in my home turf, my own Art District, which, while I had yet to explore, would within days become my favorite place.

When I exhausted my search on squid, I headed inside to watch the Civic Access channel on my little TV. Media fascinated me. It still does.

00203

I felt a wish form to practice programming.

Click.

The compulsion rose to sit at the little boxy computer in my room, and I began my first ventures into the world of code. Here waited the secrets of existence itself.

00204

Before I even earned my first skill point in programming, another compulsion rose: Find a job. Oh, I wanted a job in science! Instead, I selected that of critic.

I was too happy, what with the squid and the secrets of existence, to have regrets. But even now I wonder: How would this life be different if I had chosen to be a scientist? Who would I have met that I didn’t? Who did I meet that I wouldn’t have? What if I hadn’t become a writer, a muralist, a musician? What if my workday took me out of my district, instead of keeping me here where my happiness grew?

I know now that each choice changes code. But at the time, I didn’t even think to question the compulsions.

00205

When I look back now on my first day, fresh out of CAS, I’m surprised at what I did know. I took an immediate like to my neighbor Salim, knowing instantly, somehow, that our compatibility would lead us to be great friends. And I took an immediate dislike to Anaya before even learning her first trait.

00206

Anaya’s husband was a different matter. When Baako told me in our first conversation that he was a goofball whose love for family rivaled his love for music, I couldn’t resist his friendliness.

00207

I didn’t talk much with either of them during the rest of their visit, though. They snuck into the hallway to exchange flirts and kisses, so I talked with Salim.

Our conversation went best when we were left to our own. When my compulsions began to arise, I found myself thanking him for coming four times in a row, and we fell into a painful mutual boredom.

I tried to liven the mood with a funny story about a vampire, a pair of handcuffs, and bomb.

00208

“A boom?”

“No, a bomb.”

“Excuse me,” Salim said, in a phony French accent, “I think there’s a boom in the room.”

I liked him even more.

“I hope you enjoy this fruitcake,” he said, as he dished me up a slice. “It’s my grandmother’s heirloom recipe.”

00210

It tasted like it was his grandmother’s original very first loaf! People eat that stuff? I still can’t get over it. I gag every time I think of those candied cherries and rum-soaked apricots!

But what I really don’t understand is this: How come I knew about squids, but I didn’t know that I didn’t like fruitcake? What knowledge is inherent, and what is learned through experience?

That’s something I still haven’t figured out.

Bless his sparks, Salim wasn’t offended by dislike of fruitcake.

“It really doesn’t bother you?” I asked.

“Of course not!” he replied. “More for me!”

00209

With that, we became good friends. And I had the sudden wish to share my apartment key.

“But we just met!” he protested when I handed it to him.

00211

“Yes, but we’re neighbors,” I replied, “and good friends.”

“I’ll take it,” he said. “But I’m not ready to give you mine.”

I chuckled. “That’s OK. I’m new in town. You’re not.”

Of course he was. I didn’t know it then, but all of this, and all of them, spun into existence the moment I appeared. But at the time, we were all still taken with the back-stories, and Salim’s back-story held that he had grown up here, “surrounded by poets, musicians, and artists.”

“Thanks, then,” he said. “I guess. I guess I’ll be dropping by anytime I feel like it, then.”

00212

The Jangs had long left, and Salim lingered. He watched TV.

I had a desire to write. As the sun set, I wrote a review, though I had nothing to review, and then I started work on a children’s book, though I had never met a child, or even seen a book, for that matter.

00213

I had no eyes, that first evening, for the beauty around me. My gaze was drawn to my little computer screen. For all I knew, this shining city, these rolling hills, and that ocean fog were scrimwork painted for another’s eyes.

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My Digital Life: The Blue-Green Density

Blue. That’s what I remember first. Blue of the sky.

To the other side, green of the sea.

I stand where sea and sky merge into light, as if that merging is my genesis.

At that moment, all potential exists.

I’m a man.

00101

Click.

A woman.

00102

I could be anything. Nothing is determined; nothing is set.

00103

Click.

My nose is smaller.

Click.

My chin shrinks.

Click. My ears protrude less.

My forehead is pulled into a softer angle.

I feel myself settle into… me.

At this moment, I want nothing, and I have no thoughts. Is it bliss? It’s a state I’ve tried to return to, sometimes succeeding, more often failing. It’s the state of waiting, of potential, when everything is possible and nothing determined.

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From this expanse, I feel the urge to create.

00105

What is it that is at my core? What’s behind these clicks that fashion me into myself?  I want to explore and understand. I want to know the perfection at the center of this process and to bring my life and all I create into alignment with it.

00106

And with the stirring of that desire, I’ve stepped outside of the vastness of potential.

00107

No matter how far I walk, I travel nowhere.

00108

The blue doesn’t shift. The light doesn’t fade. The green doesn’t dissolve.

00110

Am I traveling if space travels with me?

00111

If I’m the only point in space, is it still space?

00112

No matter how far I walk, I get nowhere.

Maybe it’s not that I don’t have space. Maybe I don’t have time.

00109

Maybe this process is designed to bring me into space-time.

Click.

I’m wearing a shockingly pink shirt.

00113

Click.

And now, I’m dressed like a 21st Century Vamp.

00114

Click.

There are bunnies on my feet.

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I have a name: Sondra.

Click.

Donetta-click-Margarite-click-Sabrina-click-McKenzie-click-Yesenia.

Click.

Chavez-click-Yashimoto-click-Junaby-click-Solomon.

Click.

Yesenia Solomon.

The space flashes to white and time enters in. Five minutes.

Click.

You ask about my back story? That’s it.

I am Yesenia Solomon, and I am a Sim. This is how I came to be, and now I’ll tell you about my digital life.

00116

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