World of Warcraft has been out so long now that many kids have grown up playing it. Their behavior, world views, opinions, and so forth have changed drastically as they grew from ages 13 to 19. This should not be surprising, as we all were vastly different after six years in childhood. I think it's hard to remember this when you're an adult, when six years normally means some change but not necessarily extreme change in everything about ourselves. Decisions we made at 15, both in game and out, are going to be different from decisions we make after graduating from high school and everything that goes along with that event. This is something I tried to keep in mind when answering this week's letter.
Dear Drama Mamas,Drama Mama Lisa: We've written about this issue before, One Hell of a Liar, in the case of a young man whose identity as a female tauren took on a life of its own -- and then to complicate matters, he let the ball keep rolling. What we advised him to do holds true for you, as well: It's time to spill the beans, one bean at a time.
First of all, I was new to the internet gaming scene and didn't know quite what to expect. As a teenager my friends introduced me to WoW and shortly afterward, abandoned me for other games. I was not so quick to give up on the game however. When I first started playing WoW, for whatever reason, I decided to lie about my identity, partly I guess because I was alone and wanted to protect myself in this new environment (lame excuse maybe).
It all came back to bite me when I joined a guild. See when I did so, there were people around me to help me, who I could socialize with, and get pretty close with. Like the new kid at a school I made friends fast and we were able to talk about all sorts of things. They defended me when I was insulted and they confided in me about personal matters.
Throughout this transition period however, I added lie after lie to my already false identity (a bad idea I now know). Not all of my fictitious biography was made up, some were true, some were true with falseness added to it, like I would use my first name, but make up the last and so on. Honestly it was quite an addicting endeavor. Who wouldn't want to create an alternate life of themselves where all our imperfections seemingly disappeared?
Anyway, I enjoyed talking to my WoW friends that I would even chat with them outside of the game. As I grew older (still a teen, but a wiser one at that) I didn't want to keep this charade up any longer as I learned to appreciate who I am. You can see as I mention I grew older I kept this up for quite some time. I love and appreciate the friends I have in real life, but I would also treasure the ones I met online. In short, how do I "come out of the closet" in a sense, to my WoW buddies?
One hell of a liar
Tell one friend. If your WoW friends are all mutual friends, this may skitter out of hand quickly, but start quietly with one person if you can. The key is not to make a big drama out of it. You don't have to approach this like a confessional, blurting out a laundry list of inaccuracies. Open the door just a little: "You know, I actually don't live in California like I've said before. When I started playing WoW, I was pretty young and I didn't feel safe sharing so many personal details." See how your friend reacts. Hopefully, the conversation will give you the window to share your opinion that perhaps the whole "public identity" thing got a little out of hand, and you're glad that you have friends you feel comfortable enough with today to get real with.
If your friend seems offended, angry, or uncomfortable, be free with your apologies. Explain that your intent was not to deceive but rather to protect yourself. Make it clear that you value his friendship and appreciate the opportunity to be honest.
Remember, it's not necessary to refute each and every claim you've ever made about yourself or submit a point-by-point confessional. Once you've gotten the point across that you've mixed up quite a few personal details in your misguided effort to present a "safe" public persona to the world, the conversation's done. If your friend is willing to let bygones be bygones, then so should you. When something comes up that contradicts something you've said in the past, don't point out the discrepancy; just carry on the conversation in a truthful, factual, matter-of-fact way. The idea is to show your friends that you're still the guy they enjoy hanging out with, not to slap them in the face with your past untruths at every opportunity.
Move on to the next friend, and the next, and before you know it, your "big secret" will be completely aired out in a calm, organic, non-dramatic fashion.
One final caveat to all this: Preserve a safe distance with friends who you know strictly from gaming online -- remember, people you haven't met in person may have been doing a little truth-bending of their own. Practice safe information sharing (or rather, safe information protecting), especially if you're still a minor.
Please write us back and let us know how things go. Here's hoping you'll soon be known not as One Hell of a Liar but as One Hell of a Friend!
Drama Mama Robin: One Hell of a Liar, I think it really depends on what your lies have been. If you've just been pretending to be older and in college, for example, no one is going to be hurt by your revelations. Lisa's advice will serve you well, and people will completely understand wanting to hide your age to avoid the normal stigma that teens can be subject to. But if you've been doing something like pretending to be married with kids, complete with stories that have made people laugh and/or sympathize -- well, you might find that your big reveal will cause big drama. And if you've been deceiving people for personal gain, things are going to be even worse.
I think you should definitely pick your closest WoW friend and reveal the most pertinent parts of your identity -- making sure not to get defensive if the reaction is strong. Your friend will help you gauge the reactions of everyone else as well as give you advice as to how to present your story.
I don't think revealing it friend by friend is necessarily the best idea, however. Making the guild leader your second confidant might work better. This would allow him or her to make a decision about your continued membership and then post the decision in the guild's forums along with your story. I think you will find that the backup of guild leadership will help you greatly in dealing with coming out as your real self.
If, however, the guild leader no longer wishes you to remain in the guild because of your lies, please take that decision gracefully and move on. Your kick won't be set in stone, and a mature, apologetic response will pave the way for your return once people get over the initial shock of your big reveal.
Your guild sounds like good people, and your desire to be straight with them shows the same about you. I hope things work out and you can remain with your online friends while still being the real you.
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at firstname.lastname@example.org.