Ode to Navel Gazing

Some days I look at my Twitter timeline and just wonder. What the heck is so entertaining out RP on Twitter, or “one hitter” RP as my erudite Child @Scarlett_Area5 would say?

Today, I’ve been treated to such scintillating conversations as:

  • “Online”
  • “Sitting in the company truck my cap over my eyes dozing off at a site we are digging at and I’m supervising”
  • “-jumps on your bed- I’m so happppy!”

Now, I accept that a certain portion of role-play involves establishing a setting and not everyone is doing something exciting or even interesting all the time. I’ve even been known to announce my presence online with a simple “rises” but…there is a limit to the navel gazing characters should do. Because that’s what this sort of tweeting is, the public and social media version of reclining in the barco-lounger and picking lint out of your belly button.

So how do we, as role-players combat the insidious urge to document the minutiae of daily or nightly existence for fictional characters?

The truth is we probably don’t. Unlike real-life tweeters who could, possibly benefit from social media moderation, role-players probably would not. Who’s to say that falling asleep on the job or doing laundry after the Goodwill guys leave or polishing a piano bench until it gleams isn’t a significant detail in some well-planned and plotted SL? “Online” probably isn’t a red herring but perhaps announcing a character’s presence is the norm or even a requirement among the people who the character interacts with.

Silent Movies
20th Century RPers

Navel gazing is not only inherent to role play on Twitter, it may also be vital. Think of Twitter RPers as a 21st century take on the silent movie stars of a century ago. Instead of exaggerated expressions, gestures and movements, however, Twitter role-players have exaggerated subtitles. Some might argue this makes RPers writers not actors. Yes and no. Certainly, Twitter RPers are writers to a degree. But unlike writers who have hundreds and thousands of words or even entire books, Twitter micro-bloggers have less than 140 characters. Further, role-players in general, and RPers on Twitter especially, write only from their own point of view because as it’s heart role-play is about interacting with other people. It’s a conversation.

Conversations usually include visual clues. At least face-to-face one do. Most Twitter RPers however will never meet even once in real life let alone spend the hours, days, weeks, months and even years that storyline performances can last together. All we have are those 140 characters to convey the same level of communications conveyed across pages in a book or through non-verbal communications on film or in real life.

It’s quite the challenge.

So we indulge in some navel gazing to help sent the scene or establish state of mind. We smirk, smile, growl and frown more often than our physical selves are ever aware that they do. Good role-players take it a step beyond  that. They, like writers, describe actions or emotions with a grace and detail that truly allows their RP partners and fans to share the experience. They, like actors, distill and internalize action and emotion and represent it in an entertaining and meaningful way for their audience. Is it navel gazing? Yes. But with a purpose.

Maybe that’s the key. If you’re going to post mundane details of everyday life, take the time to craft them well. Try working them into an SL or make them revealing about who your character is or the world they inhabit. Give us something to hang our hat or further conversations on, as it were. Don’t just be “online”. Be:

“…I feel my muscles shift, bones crackle, fangs bare, falling to my knees…howls to the moon and the glory of it” as @MarkStoneBrook tweeted.

Don’t just “rise” instead:

“Rises to find myself in a completely dark room. Fangs extend as I struggle to make my eyes focus on where I am, and who I am with” like @Scarlett_Area5

And whatever you do, don’t be “bored” because if I see that one more time I’m going to drain someone. Wait, on second thought, go ahead. Be “bored” I’m thirsty….

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