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

I’m a man “in real life,” however I’ve all the time 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 choose it? —Gender Player

Dear Player,

It seems like you will have lots of people in your life, Player, who assume they know you higher than you recognize your self. I received’t fake to have perception into your deepest self, however I can supply some methods of eager about your selection:

  1. Fantasy and fiction supply an escape hatch out of your ordinary perspective and allow you to discover views totally different from your personal. Choosing a droid as your avatar doesn’t imply you’re a robotic deep down. Reading a novel that portrays the world by means of 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 unusual lives, permitting us to experiment with assumed identities behind the veil of anonymity. That’s definitely not the utopia we ended up with (as an alternative, we’re usually sorted into inflexible containers by prediction engines and focused adverts). But video video games nonetheless maintain the promise of the masquerade ball, a spot the place you possibly can don a fancy dress, obtain a brand new pores and skin, and fake for a short while to be another person.
  2. Play-acting and role-playing, after all, 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 possibly your mates are proper and there’s one thing deeper happening.
  3. Gender itself, it’s usually mentioned, is a “script,” a form of efficiency that’s socially bolstered to make individuals all throughout the gender spectrum conform to the usual binary. Choosing a feminine character would possibly merely be an acknowledgment of components of your self that you simply’ve felt compelled to repress in unusual life—not an indication that you simply’re residing within the improper physique, essentially, simply proof that your mode of gender expression has grow to be too slender. An “avatar,” in its unique sense, refers back to the a number of kinds/genders {that a} deity can take. The characters you select may be an acknowledgment of your personal plurality, an try and 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 concept 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 worry of hypocrisy—however I don’t assume that’s the correct phrase, precisely, for what you’re feeling. A hypocrite is somebody who claims ethical requirements that their habits 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 vitality, 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 worry is extra delicate and insidious. Maybe the concept of consuming lab meat strikes you as a nasty discount, 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 attainable to push the Frankenmeat thought experiment into darker territory. Would you eat lab-grown human flesh? Would you eat meat grown from your personal 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 turned a vegetarian not since you really believed your particular person actions would change the world, however since you favored the concept of being the form of one that was keen to do tough issues and make sacrifices for greater beliefs. Perhaps abstention made the gauntlet of senseless client selections really feel a tad extra significant. Maybe it made you extra keen to do different arduous issues for the sake of ethical consistency. If you focus solely on the outcomes of your actions, you’ll find yourself always attempting 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 pretend just about something, I simply assume every part I see or learn on a display screen is pretend till confirmed actual. Is that cheap or cynical? —Doubting Thomas

I feel you’re proper to doubt, Thomas. Your namesake, the apostle, refused to consider within the miracle of resurrection till he noticed proof along with his personal eyes. But what sort of arduous 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 form of actuality—is on the decline.