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I am a boy. Does playing female characters in video games make me gay?

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 I am a boy. Does playing female characters in video games make me gay?

I am a boy “in real life”, but I have always played female characters in video games. More and more people say this means I’m secretly gay/trans or a complete idiot. Am I allowed to simply prefer it? —Gender player

Dear player,

It seems like you have a lot of people in your life, Player, who think they know you better than you know yourself. I don’t claim to know your deepest self, but I can offer you some ways to think about your choice:

  1. Fantasy and fiction offer an escape from your usual point of view and allow you to explore perspectives different from your own. Choosing a droid as your avatar does not mean that you are a robot deep down. Reading a novel that portrays the world through the eyes of a female narrator does not mean that you are secretly a woman (or a “pervert”). Internet pioneers hoped that digital spaces would free us from our ordinary lives, allowing us to experiment with assumed identities behind the veil of anonymity. That’s certainly not the utopia we end up with (instead, prediction engines and targeted ads often classify us into rigid boxes). But video games still hold the promise of the masquerade ball, a place where you can put on a costume, download a new look, and pretend for a moment to be someone else.
  2. Of course, acting and role-playing can sometimes reveal deeper longings, especially those that the conscious mind has refused to harbor. If you feel an overwhelming sense of euphoria while playing a female character or fantasizing about being the avatar in real life, then maybe your friends are right and something deeper is going on.
  3. Gender itself, it is often said, is a “script,” a type of performance that is socially reinforced to make people across the gender spectrum conform to the standard binary. Choosing a female character could simply be an acknowledgment of parts of yourself that you’ve felt forced to repress in ordinary life; not necessarily a sign that you’re living in the wrong body, just evidence that your mode of gender expression has become different. too narrow. An “avatar”, in its original sense, refers to the multiple forms/genders that a deity can take. The characters you choose can be a recognition of your own plurality, an attempt to embody just one of the multitudes within you.

I’m a vegetarian, but I would eat lab-grown meat. Does that make me a hypocrite? -Little chicken

Since you are not afraid of the idea of ​​meat being grown “in a peach bowl,” as Marjorie Taylor Greene put it, I assume your vegetarianism is ethically or religiously motivated. Hence the fear of hypocrisy, but I don’t think that’s exactly the right word for what you’re feeling. A hypocrite is someone who asserts moral standards that his behavior flatly contradicts, and laboratory meat, if we believe the hype, promises to be humane and sustainable. Like many technological solutions that transform a vice into a neutral choice (clean energy, NA beer), it overturns the moral calculus and frees us from the duty to make sacrifices for a better world, or for a better self. You can have your happy cows and eat them too.

The hypocrisy you fear is more subtle and insidious. Maybe the idea of ​​eating lab-grown meat seems like bad business to you, like allowing yourself to verbally insult a chatbot. The technical fact that “it doesn’t hurt anyone” shouldn’t stop you from feeling queasy about your motives and the suggestion of antisocial desires that would probably be best repressed. As I’m sure you know, Chicken, it’s possible to take the Frankenmeat thought experiment into darker territory. Would you eat lab-grown human meat? Would you eat meat grown from your own cells or those of a baby?

If you are concerned only with the practical consequences of your actions, then you are surely not betraying any of your values. what you are Betraying is a certain idea of ​​yourself. I imagine you became a vegetarian not because you truly believed that your individual actions would change the world, but because you liked the idea of ​​being the kind of person who was willing to do hard things and make sacrifices for higher ideals. Perhaps abstention made the challenge of thoughtless consumer choices seem a little more significant. Maybe it made you more willing to do other difficult things for the sake of moral consistency. If you focus exclusively on the results of your actions, you will end up constantly searching for ethical loopholes that cost your soul. Virtue, even when arbitrary and useless, has its own rewards.

Now that AI can fake almost anything, I assume that everything I see or read on a screen is fake until it’s proven to be real. Is that reasonable or cynical? —Doubting Thomas

I think you’re right to doubt, Thomas. His namesake, the apostle, refused to believe in the miracle of the resurrection until he saw the proof with his own eyes. But what kind of hard evidence, if any, can convince us of anything in the Year of Our Lord 2024? The photos lie, the machines hallucinate. The social sciences cannot replicate their most fundamental experiments. Data analysis, at some scale, can be leveraged to prove basically anything. It’s easy to feel like something has been lost, that our faith in consensus reality (or any kind of reality) is waning.

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