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 folks say this implies I’m both secretly homosexual/trans or a complete creep. Am I allowed to only want it? —Gender Player

Dear Player,

It seems like you’ve got lots of people in your life, Player, who suppose they know you higher than you realize your self. I gained’t faux to have perception into your deepest self, however I can supply some methods of fascinated about your alternative:

  1. Fantasy and fiction supply an escape hatch out of your traditional standpoint 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 way of the eyes of a feminine narrator doesn’t imply you’re secretly a girl (or a “creep”). The pioneers of the web hoped that digital areas would liberate us from our atypical lives, permitting us to experiment with assumed identities behind the veil of anonymity. That’s definitely not the utopia we ended up with (as a substitute, 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 may 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 generally reveal deeper longings, particularly these the aware thoughts has refused to entertain. If you are feeling an amazing sense of euphoria whereas enjoying a feminine character or end up fantasizing about being the avatar in actual life, then perhaps your folks are proper and there’s one thing deeper occurring.
  3. Gender itself, it’s usually stated, is a “script,” a type of efficiency that’s socially bolstered to make folks all throughout the gender spectrum conform to the usual binary. Choosing a feminine character would possibly merely be an acknowledgment of elements of your self that you simply’ve felt compelled to repress in atypical life—not an indication that you simply’re dwelling within the fallacious physique, essentially, simply proof that your mode of gender expression has develop into too slender. An “avatar,” in its authentic sense, refers back to the a number of kinds/genders {that a} deity can take. The characters you select is likely to be an acknowledgment of your individual 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 suppose that’s the best 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 imagine the hype, guarantees to be each humane and sustainable. Like many technological options that remodel a vice right into a impartial alternative (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 blissful 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 foul discount, like permitting your self to bathe verbal abuse on a chatbot. The technical undeniable 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 most likely higher off repressed. As I’m positive you realize, Chicken, it’s potential 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 positive, 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 actually believed your particular person actions would change the world, however since you preferred the concept of being the type of one that was prepared to do troublesome issues and make sacrifices for greater beliefs. Perhaps abstention made the gauntlet of senseless shopper selections really feel a tad extra significant. Maybe it made you extra prepared to do different onerous issues for the sake of ethical consistency. If you focus completely on the outcomes of your actions, you’ll find yourself always 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 all the things I see or learn on a display screen is faux till confirmed actual. Is that affordable or cynical? —Doubting Thomas

I feel you’re proper to doubt, Thomas. Your namesake, the apostle, refused to imagine within the miracle of resurrection till he noticed proof along with his personal eyes. But what sort of onerous 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, may be exploited to show principally something. It’s simple to really feel like one thing has been misplaced, that our religion in consensus actuality—or any type of actuality—is on the decline.