Page: 123
flash fire
flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Member Since: 25th Jan 2001
Total posts: 2758
Posted:As per threads on 'favourite avatars' in Social Chat, I mentioned that I had previously found some interesting info on the psychology of avatars, which I had posted on another forum that I occasionally visit. It's long, but worth read....:

Found this interesting piece on the psychology of avatars here: http://psydok.sulb.uni-saarland.de/volltexte/2004/117/html/psycyber/psyav.html
This study was based on a particular chat community called The Palace. It's long and interesting - I found myself pinpointing HoPpers with their seemingly relevant psychological disorder and avatar type.



Written by:
We social scientists love to categorize the phenomena we study. So allow me to indulge my professional inclinations. One way to categorize avs would be to use well-known personality types as a guideline - for example, McWilliams (1994) system for psychoanalytic diagnosis. Although these types described by McWilliams are for clinical diagnosis, when translated to a non-pathological dimension, they also are very useful in categorizing "normal" personalities. The theme, characteristics, or interpersonal impact of an avatar may be closely associated with one of these specific types.


narcissistic - themes of power, status, perfection, grandiosity; draws for admiration and praise; feelings of being "special" and "privileged"

schizoid - themes of interpersonal detachment and indifference, perhaps combined with evidence of abstract or intellectual thinking; little evidence of warmth and tenderness; the "loner" themes

paranoid - distrust, isolation, hypervigilance, blaming or finding fault with others; cold, humorless, argumentative characteristics

depressive - gloom, darkness, loss, low self-esteeem

manic - energtic, grandiose, impulsive

masochistic - self-destructive, themes revolving around the "bad self" or "woe is me"

obsessive/compulsive - seriouis, formal; themes of control and perfection; shows evidence of a concern about details and rules

psychopathic - antisocial, violates rules; little evidence of shame or guilt; takes advantage of others; possible superficial friendliness or charm

histrionic - attention-seeking and seductive in flavor, dramatic, emotional, vain; themes involving dependency

schizotypal - themes of being aloof, indifferent; evidence of magical thinking or superstitious beliefs; peculiar characteristics

Another simpler approach to categorizing avatars would be to group them according to more general visual types. Here I'll outline several different categories of custom avatars. By no means is this list definitive or exhaustive. There are many ways to slice a pie. I've chosen these categories partly because some of them are fairly obvious, and partly because each one conveys interesting psychological and social themes - themes that, in some cases, overlap with the personality types described above.

(for each of these sections below, there is a link to a subpage that contains the same text, but with accompanying graphics)

Animal Avatars
Animal avatars are some of the most popular at the Palace. Some people come as their pets. Because animals symbolize certain traits or attributes in myth as well as popular culture (e.g., strength, loyalty, grace, independence, cunning, transcendence), the animal chosen for an avatar probably bears psychological significance to the person - perhaps representing some real aspect of his or her identity, or some characteristic admired by the person. Thinking in the tradition of the Native American, we might even regard an animal avatar as being an individuals "totem" - i.e., a symbol of one's essential nature or potential.

Cartoon Avatars
When Bumgardner designed the Palace, he specifically choose a "cartoony" atmosphere. For example, the balloons that pop out from one's head when speaking is a carry over from the world of comic strips. Bumgardner felt that people would readily identify with this atmosphere and find it intuitively easy to use. The cartoony ambience also fosters a playful regression among users. Bumgardner wanted people to feel like they were "getting away with something" - which surely is a familiar theme in comic strip plots. As a result, it's no surprise that cartoon props proliferate at the Palace. While younger users (adolescents) may be more inclined to don cartoon costumes, older members frequently use them as well. The psychological significance of the cartoon character probably affects the choice made by the user. People select characters with whom they identify or admire. Some cartoon characters have very specific cultural significance and may even represent archetypal personality types (e.g., Bugs Bunny as the confident trickster; Aladdin's genie as the powerful but benevolent friend). Rather than relying on childhood cartoon figures, some adults wear cartoon avs of a more sophisticated style - some of these classified as "anime." The psychological tone of these avs tend to be more seductive, whimsical, or mysterious.

Celebrity Avatars
Celebrity avatars tend to follow trends in popular culture. And like items in popular culture, they may quickly become epidemic and then disappear. There may be a variety of motives behind the use of these avs. People may use them to express personality traits or social issues that are associated with the celebrity's image (sensuality, intelligence, power, corruption, rebellion, etc.). The user may identify with, desire, or be poking fun at these attributes. They may hope to bolster their self-esteem and identity by establishing their connection to the celebrity. They may simply wish to display a knowledge of current events in pop culture. Celebrity avs also advertise one's specific interests in entertainment in order to find like-minded users: "Hey, I like Seinfeld! Anyone else out there like Seinfeld?"

Evil Avatars
Everyone has a dark or "evil" side to his or her personality. The definition of "evil" varies from person to person, although usually it has something to do with malicious, aggressive fantasies and/or feelings of guilt. Note how many Halloween costumes fit this category. As a form of sublimation, evil costumes allow people to safely - and even creatively - express their dark side. While some members may wear an evil av as their facade for the evening (which may reflect their mood at the time), others may "flash" it as a momentary cue to others. Mess with wizards, for example, and they may flash their evil av as a warning that they're getting annoyed and may pin, gag, or kill you. On one occasion, I witnessed a male come on to an attractive female member wearing a real face prop. When her attempts to brush him off failed, she flashed a nefarious looking skull at him. He quickly backed off. Some people may use evil or aggressive avatars as a way (consciously or unconsciously) to alienate or "put off" other people. This might indicate their anxiety about intimacy and being vulnerable.

Real Face Avatars
Most users do not use pictures of themselves as their primary avatars. People prefer the partial anonymity of expressing only limited aspects of their personality through imaginative props. Or they simply enjoy the creative fun of experimenting with new identities through their avs. In more rare cases, members find the use of real face avs to be an uncomfortable, dissociative experience. "I have a picture of myself in the prop file but I really don't like to use it any longer than it takes for me to show it to a new friend," said River, a wizard. "It is a little disturbing to sit here at home and see myself speaking in cartoon balloons in a non-reality. Whew!!!!"

When users do present pictures of their real faces, it may be a gesture of honesty and/or intimacy - a sign of friendship, or even romance. Showing one's real face av can be a very poignant experience. Several members have described to me encounters when an intimate conversation culminated in their companion showing a picture of themselves. "That moment will stay with me for a long time to come," one member stated, "The value I placed on that particular moment was, friendship, trust, a sense of oneness." This same member described how there seems to be a pattern when an entire group feels compelled to use their real faces - what he called "face nite." For that period of time, the intimacy and friendship level reaches a point where people wish to step out of their masks and out of their anonymity. They want be as "real" as possible.


Idiosyncratic Avatars
These avatars become strongly associated with a specific member - almost as if it is that person's trademark. In some cases the avatar may be highly unusual or creative. Sometimes it is quite simple. Yet its association to the particular user is so strong that others experience it uniquely as that person. While trading props is a common practice, the owner of an idiosyncratic av rarely gives it away. It would be like giving one's identity to someone else to use. Conscientious members also don't "steal" (i.e., screen capture) an idiosyncratic av and use it as their own. They respect its integrity. If someone does steal and attempts to wear an idio av, they must be willing to put up with criticism by the friends of the owner.



Power Avatars
Power avatars are symbols of... well... power. Many, if not all, people have conscious or unconscious fantasies of omnipotence. Who wouldn't want strength and invulnerability? These types of avs seem to be most common among male adolescent users. In some cases the power theme is benign. Sometimes not, which may be a variation of the "evil" avatar. Because competition invariably accompanies displays of power, members seem to vie with each other in creating the most "awesome" power av. This competition is probably more common among the adolescent users. Members who persistantly display power avs may be troubled by underlying feelings of helplessness and insecurity.

Seductive Avatars
Female seductive avatars tend to be more common than male - although these female avs sometimes are "manned" by male users (see "Male Gender-Switching in Cyberspace") . In fact, the general impression among members is that males are more likely to prop up as females, especially seductive females, than women dressing up as males.

Members usually wear seductive avs to draw attention to themselves. This works very well. Male users, especially guests, quickly flock to a sexy female form. The owner may be interested in harmless flirting, or (less frequently) be advertising his or her availability for cybersex. I heard one story about someone's office friend who, when frustrated on the job, says "I need a Palace break" He then signs onto the Palace dressed as a sexy female and lures guys into bedrooms. Being sexy not only gets you attention. It also gives you power and control over others.

Some people wearing seductive avs wish to be admired as an attractive, sexy individual, without necessarily being interested in flirting or cybersex. "I have some very sexy stuff given to me by friends (all men!)," said one female member. "What do they say about me? Not quite sure, except that I would love to be younger and more beautiful and some of my avatars are that indeed."

A seductive, sexy, or simply "attractive" avatar can have a powerful impact on other members. Other members may display seductive avs simply to be admired for their skill in knowing how to create a seductive av. Because the Palace often feels like an ongoing party where people are going to flirt, playfully compete, vie for attention, and strut their stuff, it is almost a prerequisite that every experienced member owns a seductive av of some type. "Getting away with something" is an intrinsic component of the Palace culture, as Bumgardner intended. Having at least one seductive av is a cultural must.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. As one member said, "I don't really think that sexy type props are for me, just wouldn't be a true representation of what I'm about."

Other Avatars

Whenever we social scientists go about categorizing things, we always end up with a miscellaneous or "other" category. There is such a wide variety of avatars that it's impossible to neatly classify them all. The same is true of personality styles (which is the origin of the prop). Here let me briefly mention just a few other types of avatars.


Odd/shocking avatars are unusual, strange, and sometimes downright bizarre pictures - perhaps revealing people who like to surprise, goof on, or even startle and outrage others. Truly bizarre pictures might make you wonder about the person's grasp of social appropriateness, or even their mental health. Such very unusual avs are most popular among adolescents - for whom extreme behavior is a way to express independence and individuality, and to test the limits.
Abstract avatars may be used by people who enjoy enjoy symmetry, are good (non-verbal) conceptual thinkers, and/or are inclined towards visual artistic endeavors.

Billboard avatars are announcements of some sort - political, philosophical, personal. They are used by those who have something to say and are not reluctant to display their thoughts in a commercialized type format.

Lifestyle avatars, which are quite common and varied, depict some significant aspect of a person's life - usually something to do with occupation, hobby, or personal habit. It may be a way to attract like-minded individuals.

Matching avatars are designed to accompany each other and indicate the connection or bonding between the pair of members. Considerable imaginative and technical skills may go into creating such avatars.

Clan avatars - are worn by members of the same social group, some might even say "gang." These avs tend to be similar in basic design with slight variations to differentiate each one from the others. As such, each user announces his/her allegiance to the clan by adopting its collective visual appearance, while also maintaining some measure of individuality. It reminds me of the songs in some bird species. The species identifies itself and its members by a basic template that serves as the collective song. Yet each individual bird adds a small unique variation to that template in order to signify its individuality. Clan avs are found almost exclusively among adolescents for whom belonging to a peer group - and conforming to its standards - is a developmental hallmark.

Animated avatars contain motion, such as an eye tearing, a bird flying, or a flag waving. By visually diplaying "behavior" they can express a wide and subtle range of psychological meaning. Tapping a finger, blinking one's eyes, banging one's head against the wall - there are infinite expressive possibilties. The motion usually is cyclical and repetitious, which - depending on the type of avatar - may convey a feeling of persistance, determination, mindlessness, or rhythmic peacefulness.





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Skulduggery
Skulduggery

Pirate Pixie Crew Captain
Location: Wales
Member Since: 12th Aug 2004
Total posts: 8428
Posted:well my name would have been Skully had it not already been taken. I'm not sure whats evil about my pic.....

Feed me Chocolate!!! Feed me NOW!

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_Aime_
_Aime_

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hastings
Member Since: 2nd Jan 2004
Total posts: 4172
Posted:tehehe. i like to be intimate with people apparently ubbangel

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NOn
activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac
Member Since: 23rd Jun 2004
Total posts: 1643
Posted:hmmm... there doesn't appear to be a section on avatars showing french words expressed through the medium of garden chairs....... umm

Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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Valura
Valura

Mumma Hen
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Member Since: 25th Apr 2002
Total posts: 6391
Posted:i think mines idiosyncric... and sexy. but I didnt choose it cause it was sexy...

TAJ "boat mummy." VALURA "yes sweetie you went on a boat, was daddy there with you?" TAJ "no, but monkey on boat" VALURA "well then sweetie, Daddy WAS there with you"

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Lillie Frog
Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales
Member Since: 31st May 2004
Total posts: 558
Posted:That was a really interesting article.
Now it's got me thinking about mine.
I liked it, it's pretty.
What am I saying with it? That I am a beautiful, mysterious, wicked seducteress?
(it's Morgan le Fay, by Aubrey Beardsley)
That's not what I meant it to say, and if it does say that it's lying.
Maybe, deep in my subconcious, it's what I would like to be. (well, of course I would like to be stunningly beautiful, but an evil seducteress? I don't think I want to be that!)
I'm getting paranoid about it now.
Perhaps I should change it for something more honest.

But what would that be? It seems like what ever I chose it would have hidden meanings.

Oh well.


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road

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Ade
Are we there yet?
Location: australia
Member Since: 14th Mar 2001
Total posts: 1897
Posted:And what does it mean for those of us without avatars eek confused ubblol

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Pyrolific
Returning to a unique state of Equilibrium
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Member Since: 10th Jan 2001
Total posts: 3288
Posted:I want to know...what does your spychology say about people who exist on a forum which is dominated by avatar users...and who refrain from using an avatar?

Am I an international man o mystery?

hehe

Josh


--
Help! My personality got stuck in this signature machine and I cant get it out!

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flash fire
flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Member Since: 25th Jan 2001
Total posts: 2758
Posted:yes, Josh. Not only are you mysterious, you are also very holy and enlightened, not unlike buddhist monks, who refrain from extraneous accessories and individualism.

Ohmmmmmm.


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Cantus
Cantus

Tantamount to fatuity
Location: Down the road
Member Since: 30th Jul 2001
Total posts: 15965
Posted:What bracket does mine fit into then?

"I'll carry this....It's harder to spill a hat" - Chellybean
"...like a rabbit caught in a lighthouse?" - Chellybean

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arsn
arsn

How do you change this thing???
Location: Behind the couch...
Member Since: 7th Mar 2002
Total posts: 1903
Posted:Or mine??? biggrin

I can't hear you... I have a banana in my ear.

"You mean I'll have to use my brain?... but I use staff!!!" ~ ben-ja-men

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myco
myco


Location: melbourne, victoria, australia
Member Since: 2nd Nov 2004
Total posts: 2084
Posted:I don't see anyones avatars unless I'm logged off. don't know why. So all this just goes over my head.

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flash fire
flash fire

Sporadically Prodigal
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Member Since: 25th Jan 2001
Total posts: 2758
Posted:Written by: myco

I don't see anyones avatars unless I'm logged off. don't know why. So all this just goes over my head.



Go to My Home, Edit Display Preferences and change the options down the bottom of the list to "View other user's pictures in their profile and user list". If that doesn't allow you to see avatars, I'm not sure what will. If you're on dial-up though, you might want to leave them switched off, cos the pages take much longer to load when they're on.


HoP Posting Guidelines
Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?
If you can answer YES to these 4 questions then you may post a reply.

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Eveish
Eveish

*Tickles pretty strangers*
Location: Australia
Member Since: 14th Jul 2004
Total posts: 610
Posted:hmm, mine is just from a fire show I did earlier in the year. it was a really fun show and this picture is one of my favourites. I use it a lot, its even on my web site. Do all the fire twirly pics get classes as "hobby" avatars?

hmm I guess so... Well there is no shortage of like-minded, other twirlie peoples here! hug biggrin hehe


What if I should fall right through the centre of the Earth and come out the other side where people walk upside-down?!

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myco
myco


Location: melbourne, victoria, australia
Member Since: 2nd Nov 2004
Total posts: 2084
Posted:
Thank you for enlightenign me Flash Fire. I can see them all now. You're a champ!!!


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MiG
MiG

Self-Flagellation Expert
Location: Bogged at CG
Member Since: 16th Apr 2004
Total posts: 3415
Posted:mine's just pretty. i like it.

but it will change soon, to either me, or some other cool digitally created picture...


"beg beg grovel beg grovel"
"master"
--FSA

"There was an arse there, i couldn't help myself"
--Rougie

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Gayle......!
Pooh-Bah
Location: Bristol !!!!!!
Member Since: 9th Jul 2004
Total posts: 2444
Posted:Written by: *Aime*

tehehe. i like to be intimate with people apparently ubbangel



and me wink


Gayle.....!

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polythene
veteran
Location: London/ Surrey
Member Since: 15th May 2003
Total posts: 1359
Posted:I originally used mine 'cos Flid said it was hideous...

The optimist claims that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.
The pessimist fears this is true.

Always make time to play in the snow.

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Fine_Rabid_Dog
Internet Hate Machine
Location: They seek him here, they seek ...
Member Since: 26th May 2004
Total posts: 10530
Posted:Man. I look at my avatar and think "wow thats morbid". I got it cos it looks cool. Oh dear. Death. Thats preety evil.

The existance of flamethrowers says that someone, somewhere, at sometime said "I need to set that thing on fire, but it's too far away."

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Astar
member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.
Member Since: 8th Nov 2002
Total posts: 1591
Posted:Perhaps it's just an amish farmer.

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vanize
vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas
Member Since: 21st Aug 2001
Total posts: 3899
Posted:Written by: Valura

i think mines idiosyncric... and sexy. but I didnt choose it cause it was sexy...



so you don't think of yours as a seductress, huh? Interesting...


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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vanize
vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas
Member Since: 21st Aug 2001
Total posts: 3899
Posted:Written by: polythene

I originally used mine 'cos Flid said it was hideous...



really? I've always thought of it as one of the cutest avatars on HoP... shrug


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Doc Lightning
Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Member Since: 28th May 2001
Total posts: 13920
Posted:Mine's idiosyncratic...well, the first one was. The second was given to me. smile

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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vanize
vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas
Member Since: 21st Aug 2001
Total posts: 3899
Posted:your new one makes me want to have epileptic fits.

-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

Delete

NOn
activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac
Member Since: 23rd Jun 2004
Total posts: 1643
Posted:Written by: Lillie Frog

What am I saying with it? That I am a beautiful, mysterious, wicked seducteress?
(it's Morgan le Fay, by Aubrey Beardsley)
That's not what I meant it to say, and if it does say that it's lying.
Maybe, deep in my subconcious, it's what I would like to be. (well, of course I would like to be stunningly beautiful, but an evil seducteress? I don't think I want to be that!)
I'm getting paranoid about it now.
Perhaps I should change it for something more honest.



I don't think your avatar looks evil... seductive maybe, but not wickedly so. It doesn't strike me as an evil picture at all....


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

Delete

Lillie Frog
Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales
Member Since: 31st May 2004
Total posts: 558
Posted:No. I don't think she looks evil either. But the picture is of Morgan le Fay, who was evil. And as I knew who it was of when I used it then perhaps subconciously that was part of my decision.
Secret evil, hidden behind a beautiful exterior....

Hmmm, am I reading too much into this?
ubbrollsmile


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road

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...{SAFE}...
...{SAFE}...

"if i jump in the fire, will you?"
Location: USA, wishing I was in SA
Member Since: 1st Jul 2004
Total posts: 633
Posted:hmm ... wonder what i was thinking when i chose this one then ??? oh yea thats right ... it just looks great !

i like breaking the Law frown , of Gravity wink !

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Eveish
Eveish

*Tickles pretty strangers*
Location: Australia
Member Since: 14th Jul 2004
Total posts: 610
Posted:btw... Morgan le fay is only evil in the more recent stories... originally she was just a powerful woman who beat Merlin at his own game, but not seen as the bad one! It was Christianity that turned her into an evil character.
-so I don't think your av is evil at all biggrin


What if I should fall right through the centre of the Earth and come out the other side where people walk upside-down?!

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Astar
member
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada.
Member Since: 8th Nov 2002
Total posts: 1591
Posted:I thought women were inherently evil. Oh I get your point.

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oli
not with cactus
Location: bristol/ southern eastern devo...
Member Since: 24th Jul 2003
Total posts: 2052
Posted:hmmmm... what do you get from my avatar?

Me train running low on soul coal
They push+pull tactics are driving me loco
They shouldn't do that no no no

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SpitFire
Mand's Girl....and The Not So Shy One
Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada
Member Since: 2nd Dec 2002
Total posts: 2723
Posted:Thanks for pointing out the brief history of Morgain le Fay, Eveish. A lot of folks don't realize that Christianity framed her as evil because of her Old Religion ways.

Solitude sometimes speaks to you, and you should listen.

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Page: 123

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