One half of this weekly publication is the blog you are reading now. The other half is an interactive discussion based on the blog and held in a virtual world.

The University of Texas Medical Branch has an island in Second Life®. There we have created/built a representation of the UTMB campus on Galveston Island. The discussion is held here, every Friday at noon (10 am SLT).virtual world

Participation in the discussion has varied from a high of seven to a low of zero. Even I have missed on occasion. While there are many, many reasons why people may not participate in this discussion, one that comes up often is the strangeness of appearing in a virtual world as an avatar. The older one is and the less one has engaged in first-person shooter games or massively, multiplayer on-line games, the stranger this behavior seems.

Actually, it is quite comfortable to create and use a virtual avatar. I’ve schlepped around Second Life for (quickly checking my “rezz date”) for 2668 days or for over seven years. In that time I’ve visited a number of places, built some spaces, and taught some classes. Overall, it has been a rewarding experience. And I’m not the odd man out either.

Some recent research has shown that one’s avatar expresses the personality of the person behind it (See refs 1 and 2 below). In Second Life one gets to design his/her avatar to look however one wishes. It can be very realistic or very fanciful. As it turns out, from the aforementioned research study, we reflect ourselves in whatever we select and others can gauge some aspects of our personality by how we look and comport ourselves. Avatars then are reflections of the people who are represented therein. So, in a virtual world I see the human in you and you see the human in me. Thus, virtual worlds are more personal that it might seem.

Each week we gather for a discussion on aging on the UTMB campus in Second Life. Consider joining us. It will be fun and quite human.


  1. Alison Bruzek. Your Online Avatar May Reveal More About You Than You’d Think. January 12, 2015.
  2. Katrina Fong & Raymond A. Mar. What Does My Avatar Say About Me? Inferring Personality From Avatars. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, February 2015,   vol. 41,  no. 2. pp 237-249.

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room:

Image Source:  An imaginary virtual world from