Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Shut Up and Eat It

My cat is still missing. I know now that I need to file a ticket (essentially a missing persons report) with my landlord and the place I got my cat from, and hopefully they will be able to trace her/bring her home/give her a stern telling off. Thank you to everyone that offered me advice about that.

I was talking to a non-SL-using friend this morning about the aforementioned missing cat, and how it was slightly amusing that she had gone missing the morning after I had her neutered. Feeding her was becoming expensive, and so I made the (actually quite difficult) decision to buy the bottle of permapet and stop my cat from being a breedable. It only makes sense, of course, that cats getting a lot of exercise eat more than cats that only think about getting a lot of exercise, but by administering this permapet solution stuff, my cat no longer even knows what sex or breeding are, and never will again, so she apparently doesn't need to eat anything at all.

Anyway. What this led to was my voicing of something strange that happened when I neutered my cat. Over her head, as you may have seen from previous posts, used to sit a set of little meters that told me how hungry she was, how tired she was, and how happy. Once I had her neutered, all of these bars vanished. All of them. Suddenly, because my cat was no longer of breeding stock, keeping her happy and well-rested ceased to matter. I wasn't expecting this, though I appreciate how such things might work to create a game out of breeding cats. Poor Party Cat went from being a slightly more realistic tamigotchi to a cuddly toy in the click of a button. 

"You took her feelings away," said my non-SL-using friend. "That's cruel." 
"No," I clarified, "I took the measurement of her feelings away." It was pretty arbitrary, anyway, and I found it insanely difficult to balance her tiredness with her happiness. She would be miserable, but I couldn't cuddle and play with her because she was insisting on sleeping, and vice versa. Useless. But if what I said is true, why do I still feel uneasy about the idea? 

But did Party Cat ever have feelings in the first place? If we are talking on a plane in which she even exists, then yes, she does have feelings. But in a wider world context..?

I wrote a post on a popular SL forum the other day about the wording on a notecard of rules for the space brothel bar I mentioned in my 'ad(Mired)' post - which was along the same lines (and using the same lexis) as the sim rules I wrote about in one of my most popular blog posts, 'On Being Offended'. The response I got was less than enthusiastic - or, rather, less than enthusiastic about my take on things. Despite my explanations, I couldn't quite seem to articulate myself properly, and was basically told, in the end, that I was being picky and pedantic. I had got my cake, and I should just shut up and eat it. 

This, I confess, I disagree with. I think I have a point there that is, if only on a semantic level, important. And like I said, my post on the subject from a few months ago remains one of my post popular posts with (at the time of writing) one-hundred-and-sixty-one views - which is a hell of a lot for me and IYDISL! So I can't be alone in thinking that such is important. 

But where is the line? Despite my sense of unease, I'm not really sure that whether or not SL has a measure of my cat's happiness is ground-breaking digital journalism. A better question, perhaps, might be why you never see my avatar Kitti smile, and if there is a measurement for her happiness. Is her happiness my happiness? What does happiness mean in a virtual world context, and how is happiness measured, anyway?

Now the line is well and truly muddied. My little paragraph there has made it the muddiest line I have ever sought to draw. But right now? I think I should just shut up about my cat, file the damn ticket, and eat my muddy cake.


  1. I don't know anyone who can write about a virtual cat and make it sound real like you can.

    Poor missing Party Cat

  2. Lol, thank you, I think :P

    "The mind makes it real". Morpheous says so.


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