Overheard at... Starbucks
“That’s where you find the unarmed bobble-head.”
As opposed to the armed one, I thought? My mind goes to tangible images, so I pictured the only bobble-head I have…. a Christmas ornament that looks like our dog, unarmed and surrounded by the rest of the ornaments decked out in military fatigues.
I’m fairly sure, though, that the Starbucks baristas were discussing an on-line game; something that would be far more threatening than a bobble-head Santa holding an uzi. In the virtual world all things are possible, and a monster with a head that moves around unexpectedly seems particularly grotesque in my imagination.
It is clear that in our virtual world the line between fantasy and reality has blurred. I could write about a life lived completely in a dark, blue forest; and though sad which of us could not visualize a real girl trapped in front of her computer, fleeing monsters through midnight blue leaves.
The online characters my daughter creates are real enough to her to have physical and emotional traits, not to mention names. The spaces she occupies while playing these games are hers in a way that even her room at home is not. Because in her virtual rooms she is in charge… she has designed them and brought them to life and this gives them a reality which outweighs the meager control she has in her actual bedroom.
Want to change room décor? Done!... hair color? Clothing? Location? Done, done done! Friends can be selected and then set aside in an instant. Where in life is anyone allowed this kind of freedom and immediate gratification?
I won’t try to parse out the effects such an easily changeable world must have on our psyches. But as a writer, I will say that it is going to take more and more work for us to illustrate character growth in a time when readers are becoming used to full (and rapid) control over those transformations.
And, as with all change, it is a blessing and a curse. Because while on the one hand it demands more from our craft, on the other hand it opens up a whole new world to explore with our characters; a world in which even bobble-heads might have a chance at true love… if not defense.
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