The Centre of the Metaverse & Second Life

Caprica (moderate)

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.

Caprica (moderate)

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.

Caprica (moderate)

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.

Caprica (moderate)

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.

Caprica (moderate)
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19 Comments

  1. The center of the metaverse?
    Pffft, that’s me. :)

    <3
    -ls/cm

    Reply
  2. I wasn’t sure whether your complaint was about the American-centric nature of SL or about miscreants hiding behind the skirts of the U.S. Constitution (or their misguided reading thereof) to justify terrible behavior. I imagine the former to be tiresome. Heck, when I was more active inworld, on occasion I enjoyed various back-and-forth group chats wherein participants would relate experiences or traditions outside the U.S. On the other hand, it’s not the fault of America that some jerk tries to justify bad behavior by citing U.S. law. A jerk’s a jerk, and yes, there are plenty of them in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    Reply
    • I actually find SL to be less American-centric than the rest of the internet :) I’m pissed that people who abuse others defend themselves by claiming rights that they don’t understand. As the center of the Metaverse it is more often than not young, stupid, Americans with the arrogance to try and dictate things. And yes it’s just because they’re jerks and there are jerks all over. And not every American is a jerk – I’m not that biased I promise. There are a lot of Americans who assert the superiority of their Constitution etc., without understanding its counterparts and without understanding what it actually says.
      Mostly I’m just fed up with claims that you can threaten people online and insist that (for some reason) the internet is America and their definition of Free Speech is somehow protecting them.
      I’ll calm down I promise. :)

      Reply
  3. Dividni Shostakovich

     /  August 6, 2013

    You and Vaneeesa Blaylock might have an interesting conversation: in a recent blog post, she used free speech as a defense for SaveMe Oh’s … um … activities. See http://irez.me/2013/08/01/mermaids-and-pissants/ (about halfway down). Personally, much as I value freedom of speech, I think Vaneeesa’s argument is weak. (I suppose I should add, in case anyone wonders, that I neither demonize nor glorify SaveMe. She doesn’t interest me that much.)

    Reply
  4. I wonder: what makes you so brilliant? Must be something in the water (gin?) …
    In one of my many incarnations I used to be a forum admin for 12 years and I had to deal with this issue quite a few times, so I can relate. I wish I read your post back then.

    “Education might help this situation (and a few carefully targeted smacks with a baseball bat)”… snort!

    Reply
  5. Jo

     /  August 6, 2013

    ” (and a few carefully targeted smacks with a baseball bat). ”

    Right, smash the brains in of people you don’t agree with. So evolved!!
    Fabulously civilized —

    Reply
    • LOL people I disagree with are perfectly safe – people who threaten rape and bombings on social media to intimidate, on the other hand, uncivilize me.

      Reply
  6. Hi Honour and Divi, you know that I like and respect you a lot. But your discussion is exactly that what bothers me with Americans. To expect others just to shut their mouth instead of accepting others to be “boring” or to dislike something and expressing it freely is to me the modern form of supressing. Real democracy and diversity starts to me there where it hurts. where discussion is deserved to initiate a learning process on both sides. In my European eyes freedeom is more or less completely sold in America to the rich.
    And please Honour, more rants. They are the salt in the soup!

    Reply
    • *cough* Quan I’m not an American :p But I am allowed to joke about boring *grin*

      Reply
    • Dividni Shostakovich

       /  August 11, 2013

      Hi Quan, all I said was that SaveMe doesn’t interest me. I didn’t say she should be silenced. I also didn’t say she should be praised. I said she should be neither silenced nor praised. Uninteresting people have a right to free speech; they simply use it to say uninteresting things.

      Now, to her credit, I’ve heard SaveMe say one or two very perceptive things. On the whole, however, from what I’ve seen she’s done little that is challenging, either intellectually or artistically — nearly all she ever challenges is people’s patience. That’s why I don’t find her very interesting. She doesn’t present diversity of thought any more than does repeatedly stepping on your toes. She certainly has the *right* to bore others or test their patience. And I have the right to yawn and roll my eyes. She has the intelligence to do interesting work, but she’s too lazy to do so. What a waste. Either way, SaveMe is not some sort of threat that must be suppressed, nor an icon worthy of comparison with Nelson Mandela — a comparison which Vaneeesa actually made, in a blog post that named SaveMe as the most important person in SL. Seriously?? The argument doesn’t defend freedom of speech — it trivializes it.

      Reply
  7. Whlist I cannot type, my poor niece has been again drafted so that I might respond to this brilliant and brave post. As a bonafide Euro-American, I have my own perspective on such matters – which I hope is more-or-less balanced somewhere in the middle. However, I do have a particular distaste for any action that is abusive – no matter what “law” or “credo” is cited as a defense for such defenseless behaviour – or from whom it comes.
    I agree that America is rife with this and there is a certain class (for lack of a better term at the moment) of Americans who are quite uneducated about their own constitutional claims, and whilst THEY don’t scare me, I am concerned about the status in America that allows their behavior to go unstemmed. I am all for free speech and for disagreement and debate – but I want it to be HEALTHY and RESPECTFUL – from all quarters. I disagree with many people about many issues, but screaming about it is not the answer; I prefer rational thought, caring interaction, and joint compromise (which DOES mean compromise on BOTH sides). There ARE limits to behaviour and laws – to allow us to be safe enough to explore, learn, and grow.
    Call me a dreamer…but I won’t stop, and I hope that my intended peaceful way (nobody’s perfect!) will inspire even just one other person to rethink bullying, griefing (in SL and RL), and the like. The old saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. Words can be used as weapons, and it’s time we laid them down. Honest sharing of emotion, needs, hopes, dreams – and the truth (as well as poetry and lyrics) – are much more interesting, anyway.

    Reply

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