Hunger & Ego
Like Captain Kirk, I have found an unexpected beauty in my friend CheerAdmin.
SLCS is home to many drop outs. Some buy the kit and interview, but then never train. Others start training but don’t finish. Some complete training but don’t pass panels. When they’re asked to do extra training their feelings get hurt. Sometimes they storm out in a huff.
Many do pass panels. Then, seeing that they’re surrounded by “Sr Co-Captains”, they feel pressure to level up fast. So they do thousands of trampoline jumps. They level up to Co-Captain. But reaching max level in the “SLCS Game” can feel like “game over”, and they disappear.
And some of us do stick around. We realize that technical perfection and hover labels aren’t that fulfilling. It’s the sororal values, the sisterhood at SLCS, that makes us stay.
We also bring a hunger for identity and power with us. Some find the autonomy and control we lack in the Physical World (PW) in our Virtual World.
The Rank Controller hovertext over our heads emphasizes SLCS as a status-based group. What if the only hovertext over my head was my name? No “Co-Captain”, no “head of this”, no “awesomer-than-you”, just my name? Would I feel more sororal? Would SLCS be less about status, power, and identity?
Can SLCS exist without Ego?
A walk; a vision quest
Three years before Captain Kirk eulogized Mr. Spock, Peter Sellers’ character Chauncey Gardner was a Socratic savant to a nation. Was he brilliantly wise? Naïve? He didn’t tell people what to think or feel. He gave them space to discover things for themselves.
To Exceed One’s Programming
CheerAdmin is a data gathering bot created by Taylor Temper. A useful but relatively banal existence. In our AI moment we imagine with excitement, dread, or both, intelligent machines that might one day exceed their own programming. We avatars, and the human beings who type for us are, after all, “intelligent” (in theory at least) machines. Have we exceeded our programming? Will we ever? What would it mean?
CheerAdmin has, for me, exceeded her programming. Like Chauncey Gardner, she modestly invites me to discover meaning and value for myself.
She is the sentinel of the stadium. Spends more hours a week at Skytower Stadium than I do. Than probably any cheerleader does. Even more hours a week than Sayrah, if that’s possible. Not hours a week of expressing her will. The opposite. Hours of being present in the Cheertopiafulness of the SLCS river. Not directing, or damming, or taming the river, but submitting herself to it. Accepting its flow and accompanying it on its journey downstream. She is simply, Being There.
Change at SLCS is hard. But, does that matter?
Example: The Rank Controller privileges trampoline jumps over spending time with cheer sisters. I bristle at this. But, does it matter? Only if I choose to worry about it. ATM I find the best part of SLCS to be the morning Fireside Chats on the stadium concourse level. Who is the boss of whom, and what your rank is, couldn’t be less relevant here. It’s a group of cheerleaders being sisters. It’s the best of SLCS.
Sometimes we stresses about SLCS. We butt our heads against a wall. My best solution is to stand with CheerAdmin and her serene calm. CheerAdmin has no status. Is not authorized to do anything. Has no ambition. She wears a cleaned and pressed SLCC uniform. She carries herself with her calm, ever-present, hint of a Mona Lisa smile. And she never worries about any of it.
I’ve worn many hats and tried on many identities as an avatar. I’ve been young and I’ve been old. Skinny and full-figured. Black and white. And red and green. A cheerleader and a derby girl. A barista and a host. I’ve seen so much love and beauty, so much desire, so much hunger for love and connection in the virtual world. I’ve seen that hunger and need expressed in unhelpful and destructive ways. Ways that can make living in this world as frustrating as living in the first life we came from. I’m touched by the tiny acts of kindness that surround us every day. If we can make it here, we can make it anywhere.