I have nothing against avatars. One of my tech-enabled friends managed to install a groovy little picture of himself as his AIM avatar, so that every time I chat with him, his little 48×48-pixel pate is there.
Then Yahoo Mail shoved an avatar box into my e-mail, so that whenever I logged in, I had a silhouetted head there, whether I wanted or not. For months I managed to ignore it, until one day in a moment of … weakness? weak-mindedness? criminal negligence? (It’s the same impulse that compels me to get sufficiently distracted that I stop what I’m doing and read online stories about Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. And yes, I feel filled with self-loathing. But not so much that give it up entirely.) Wait, where was I?
Anyhow, in a moment of brain-slush one day I customized the damn thing (see?), doing my best to make it interesting–avoiding, in the process, the corporatepropaganda from Dodge Avenger, Verizon Wireless, Yahoo, MTV Movie Awards, etc. (Which just goes to show you can turn yourself into a billboard even in cyberspace.)
But it’s still all kinds of wrong. First, no hockey helmet. They have a skating helmet, batting helmet, pith helmet and space helmet, but no hockey helmet. And as tempting as the pith helmet is, it’s really nothing without the pith uniform. Instead I had to go with the Ignatius Reilly head gear. I added the scarf, kinda old shinny-hockey style.
But still: my avatar is wearing ski gloves, its stick is about a foot too long, it’s screwing up its skate blades by walking on god knows what, and it appears to be standing in a puddle of its own urine.
Oh, and did I mention no goatee? Four kinds of eye color, 41 hair styles, including laurel wreath (?!), but no goatee. Find me just one hipster who wears a laurel wreath, and I’ll find you someone who lost his schizophrenia meds.
Not to mention that the friggin’ thing is animated, and makes a weird drooling-smile expression from time to time, like a brain-damaged dog.
Bad avatar! (hit with rolled-up newspaper) Bad avatar!
Last week my clever coworker Connie found out that the Simpson’s Movie website (no link, I doubt they need the props) has a little way to make your own avatar. So she made one for everyone in our department. Here’s mine:
Oh, you could quibble: I don’t wear highwaters, my head isn’t that big, my t-shirts don’t wad up in my armpits, I don’t always look that stoned, etc. But still. That’s a damn fine avatar, if for no other reason than that feral hair.
Nonetheless, I think I’m gonna start using my Google Mail instead of Yahoo. It’s 100% avatar-free.