An addicted insider’s account of our real lives in the era of the realtime, social web.

Confession #104: I Wish I Could Be More Like My Avatar

I wish I could be more like my avatar.

The other day I accidentally loaded the wrong version of a podcast I had been working on. About a minute in, I heard myself stumble over a few words, and then ramble, “What are you doing wasting your time with this? You’re a grown man with two kids. Is this the crap you want them to see you doing? Even your two year-old complains that this web garbage has no revenue model. Did your parents really survive the Holocaust and make an idyllic life for you in America so you could be reading this goddamn crap into a microphone attached to your laptop you stupid loser.”

My avatar never acts like that. He never lets life’s frustrating moments get him down. Every wrong can be made into a right. When an investment goes bad, he tweets something funny yet insightful about the offending company. When someone cuts him off in traffic, they get anonymously humiliated on the Internet. When his kids complain that he’s on his laptop too often, he knows he can turn their complaints into a pithy quote that will lead to a couple hundred retweets. If he screws up a podcast recording a few times, he just laughs knowlingly and thinks to himself, “Looks like I’ve got the topic for my next blog post.”

When my avatar drinks too much coffee, his wit accelerates. When I drink too much coffee, I get jittery, frustrated and my irritable bowel syndrome kicks in. When my avatar gets drunk, he becomes more entertaining, makes more pointed jabs at those who deserve them, and leaves his mark as the life of the online party. When I have a couple too many bottles of beer, I usually sing as much of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album as I can before passing out with my cheek propped up against the cool porcelain of the Toto in my master bathroom.

My avatar easily maintains every popular diet. He doesn’t get those creases around his eyes when he laughs. He completed his journey to the 4-hour body in less than 45 minutes. Both of my kids asked me if I’d make them a t-shirt with my avatar on it. They look up to him.

I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this. You know my avatar a lot better than you know me. I’m sure some of you who have never met the real me probably think that me and him are one in the same. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, my designer Brian went to great lengths to match my current facial hair (the curved tough-guy mustache and the unironic soul-patch). But in reality, my facial grooming comes nowhere close to the avatar. I ended up with this look after I shaved off all the gray parts of my beard. The last time my neice saw my facial hair she asked me if I was going to a costume party.

She never talks trash like that to my avatar. No one does.

My avatar is steady. He’s attractive. He’s even-keeled. He looks great on coffee mugs and mousepads. He didn’t see a shrink three times a week as a kid. He never wet the sleeping bag at camp. He didn’t cry during his first week of football practice. He never owned a Manilow poster. He never drove a Moped through the bushes and into his outside bedroom wall. No one bought him a vaporizer for his 44th birthday. When he watches porn, he feels even more secure about his own anatomy. He’s cool. He’s enigmatic. Sometimes when my wife closes her eyes during love-making, I know she’s thinking of my avatar. And I don’t blame her. More often than not, I’m doing the same thing.

I still think it’s pretty sad I that spend so much of my life in front of this computer screen. But my avatar has no such doubts. The Internet is the only place where he exists. No apologies. No second thoughts. No carpal-tunnel syndrome.

And in the end, he doesn’t really care if you like this post. If it sucks, he knows you’ll just blame me.


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My name is Dave Pell, internet superhero. This blog provides an addicted insider's account of what's happening to us in the era of the realtime, social web. You can read more about the site, grab the rss feed, follow me on twitter, join the Facebook page, or get email updates.