I just saw Sheldon and Lisa off to their new home in Yorktown after their two evenings with me and their Saturday in Baltimore at the regional Magic tournament. As I noted Friday night, it was so nice to spend time with them again; they represent a more social and playful, better integrated and connected, and less stressful part of my life.
I was struck at brunch today before they left at the ways in which one’s language is modified based on the environment in which one uses it; the terminology and metaphors that Sheldon, Lisa and I use together, for example, are very different from those I would use with most of my current friends, my colleagues or my family. We have a set of shared literature, habits and experiences from which to draw; at one point Sheldon described someone of their more recent acquaintance as the “avatar of Obsession on Earth,” a phrase drawing from some of our shared past of role-playing and fantasy that immediately and clearly defined for me just how obsessive the person in question would be. But I would probably never use the word avatar with my family or with most of my current friends or co-workers; even for those that know the dictionary definition of the word, I don’t think it would generally truly describe for them the anthropomorphic manifestation of a god or goddess whose portfolio includes that quality or attribute.
(Oh, except I do use the word among my friends from TSO, There and other visual chat and online gaming environments, where it has a different, very specific meaning.)