I’m a Boy. Does Playing Female Characters in Video Games Make Me Gay?

I’m a man “in real life,” however I’ve at all times performed feminine characters in video video games. More and extra individuals say this implies I’m both secretly homosexual/trans or a complete creep. Am I allowed to simply favor it? —Gender Player

Dear Player,

It appears like you’ve got lots of people in your life, Player, who suppose they know you higher than you recognize your self. I gained’t faux to have perception into your deepest self, however I can supply some methods of occupied with your selection:

  1. Fantasy and fiction supply an escape hatch out of your typical perspective and allow you to discover views totally different from your individual. Choosing a droid as your avatar doesn’t imply you’re a robotic deep down. Reading a novel that portrays the world by the eyes of a feminine narrator doesn’t imply you’re secretly a lady (or a “creep”). The pioneers of the web hoped that digital areas would liberate us from our peculiar lives, permitting us to experiment with assumed identities behind the veil of anonymity. That’s actually not the utopia we ended up with (as a substitute, we’re usually sorted into inflexible bins by prediction engines and focused adverts). But video video games nonetheless maintain the promise of the masquerade ball, a spot the place you’ll be able to don a fancy dress, obtain a brand new pores and skin, and faux for a short while to be another person.
  2. Play-acting and role-playing, in fact, can typically reveal deeper longings, particularly these the aware thoughts has refused to entertain. If you’re feeling an amazing sense of euphoria whereas taking part in a feminine character or end up fantasizing about being the avatar in actual life, then perhaps your pals are proper and there’s one thing deeper happening.
  3. Gender itself, it’s usually mentioned, is a “script,” a sort of efficiency that’s socially strengthened to make individuals all throughout the gender spectrum conform to the usual binary. Choosing a feminine character may merely be an acknowledgment of components of your self that you just’ve felt compelled to repress in peculiar life—not an indication that you just’re residing within the unsuitable physique, essentially, simply proof that your mode of gender expression has change into too slim. An “avatar,” in its unique sense, refers back to the a number of types/genders {that a} deity can take. The characters you select could be an acknowledgment of your individual plurality, an try to incarnate simply one of many multitudes inside you.

I’m a vegetarian, however I’d eat lab-grown meat. Does that make me a hypocrite? —Chicken Little

Seeing as you’re not grossed out by the thought of meat grown “in a peach tree dish,” as Marjorie Taylor Greene put it, I assume your vegetarianism is ethically or religiously motivated. Hence the concern of hypocrisy—however I don’t suppose that’s the appropriate phrase, precisely, for what you’re feeling. A hypocrite is somebody who claims ethical requirements that their conduct flatly contradicts, and lab meat, if we’re to consider the hype, guarantees to be each humane and sustainable. Like many technological options that remodel a vice right into a impartial selection (clear power, NA beer), it cancels out the ethical calculus and relieves us of the responsibility to make sacrifices for a greater world, or a greater self. You can have your pleased cows and eat them, too.

The hypocrisy you concern is extra refined and insidious. Maybe the thought of consuming lab meat strikes you as a nasty cut price, like permitting your self to bathe verbal abuse on a chatbot. The technical incontrovertible fact that it’s “not harming anyone” shouldn’t cease you from feeling queasy about your motives and the suggestion of delinquent wishes that had been in all probability higher off repressed. As I’m certain you recognize, Chicken, it’s doable to push the Frankenmeat thought experiment into darker territory. Would you eat lab-grown human flesh? Would you eat meat grown from your individual cells, or from these of a child?

If you’re involved with solely the sensible penalties of your actions, then certain, you’re not betraying any of your values. What you are betraying is a sure concept of your self. I think about you grew to become a vegetarian not since you really believed your particular person actions would change the world, however since you appreciated the thought of being the sort of one who was keen to do tough issues and make sacrifices for greater beliefs. Perhaps abstention made the gauntlet of senseless client decisions really feel a tad extra significant. Maybe it made you extra keen to do different exhausting issues for the sake of ethical consistency. If you focus completely on the outcomes of your actions, you’ll find yourself continuously trying to find moral loopholes that come on the worth of your soul. Virtue, even when arbitrary and pointless, has rewards of its personal.

Now that AI can faux just about something, I simply assume every part I see or learn on a display is faux till confirmed actual. Is that cheap or cynical? —Doubting Thomas

I believe you’re proper to doubt, Thomas. Your namesake, the apostle, refused to consider within the miracle of resurrection till he noticed proof together with his personal eyes. But what sort of exhausting proof, if any, can persuade us of something within the Year of Our Lord 2024? Photos lie, machines hallucinate. The social sciences can’t replicate their most elementary experiments. Data evaluation, at a sure scale, could be exploited to show mainly something. It’s straightforward to really feel like one thing has been misplaced, that our religion in consensus actuality—or any sort of actuality—is on the decline.