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 only desire it? —Gender Player

Dear Player,

It feels like you’ve gotten lots of people in your life, Player, who assume they know you higher than you realize your self. I gained’t fake to have perception into your deepest self, however I can provide some methods of eager about your alternative:

  1. Fantasy and fiction provide an escape hatch out of your normal standpoint and allow you to discover views completely 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 lady (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 actually not the utopia we ended up with (as an alternative, 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 fake for a short time 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’re feeling an awesome sense of euphoria whereas taking part in 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 mentioned, is a “script,” a type of efficiency that’s socially bolstered 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 atypical life—not an indication that you just’re dwelling within the unsuitable physique, essentially, simply proof that your mode of gender expression has change into too slender. An “avatar,” in its unique sense, refers back to the a number of varieties/genders {that a} deity can take. The characters you select may 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 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 worry of hypocrisy—however I don’t assume 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 alternative (clear vitality, NA beer), it cancels out the ethical calculus and relieves us of the obligation 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 refined and insidious. Maybe the thought 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 realize, 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 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 preferred the thought 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 laborious issues for the sake of ethical consistency. If you focus solely on the outcomes of your actions, you’ll find yourself always looking for 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 all the things I see or learn on a display is pretend till confirmed actual. Is that affordable 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 laborious 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 basic 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.