Y’all might think that, because I haven’t done it in a while, I’ve managed to acquire enough composure not to indulge myself in a brief rant. Ha! I’m using a fantasy landscape as a background because, I suspect, my hopes in this area belong in the same category.
I’ve had something on my mind which I didn’t share because: I don’t think my targets are likely to read this benign blog and because the subject is so large it can’t be addressed in the few words I allow myself on here. Then I learned something quite extraordinary and decided to approach just one tiny corner of the issue. Sorry about that!
I’ve always seen Second Life as a way to break down barriers between people and cultures, and help all of us achieve a degree of humility concerning our own supposed superiority in any facet of life. The need for us to learn from each other is real and I wish we’d hurry up.
I don’t know how I missed it, but it turns out that the Centre of the Universe↑ was discovered in my Province. Wow! We’ll ignore the fact that something which was born in the mind of a Monk, with far too much peyote in his diet, circa 1980 can be considered a legend and just focus on the important part. It seems that the heart, the core, the spot from which all things are born and controlled is just a few hundred miles north of me.
The Centre of the Metaverse, on the other hand, was never any secret. I was confronted with this fact back in the early days of eBay when anybody who wasn’t an American was labelled an “International”. We were the Other. In Imperialistic terms this means those folks whose status is less and whose resources can be exploited for the benefit of the dominant group. More importantly, it’s a way of emphasizing the perceived weaknesses of those groups as a way of stressing the superiority of the ones with, or those who want to have, the power.
An example of this is not hard to find on the internet, particularly on social networks. Frequent references to the American Constitution as a way to defend actions and behaviour are common – e.g., “This is America. We have Freedom of Speech.” Now while the rest of the world might not utilize this weapon, the fact remains that there are Constitutions, Bills of Rights, Laws and Freedoms almost everywhere you look. Free Speech is not a unique concept. It is also not an unfettered mandate in any location.
There are limits to what can be said to somebody (even a woman) under the law↑. The ones who indulge in threats of rape and other forms of violence might just as well use their acne as a defense – it would have the same logic. What I believe happens is that people who don’t like thinking too hard (well it hurts you know) manage to remember the phrase Free Speech and consider it a blanket approval to do as they like.
When challenged many of them point out that the internet “is America” and it’s their rules. Which, as the Centre of the Metaverse might make sense if it was true. I should point out that there are those in other countries who have fallen into this trap and use the same defense. However, nobody’s laws state that anything goes and that there are no consequences for exceeding the limits of whatever right you claim.
Education might help this situation (and a few carefully targeted smacks with a baseball bat). It would be nice if that started where all things metaversal are born – in the Centre. I suspect that this will be a very slow process. There are those who have grasped their relative position in the world without learning some of the nuances.
If you don’t believe me – think back a few weeks to a Twitter meme on July 4th congratulating the United States on its 2013th Birthday↑. They were joking of course. The sad part is that the meme was spawned by a tweet last New Year’s Eve↑. I’d like to think Second Life can help. We have a long way to go and, until the day that some semblance of rational thought and behaviour is achieved, I’m going to hang on to my bat.