The Infantile Side of Social Networks & Second Life

Venexia (adult)

I’ve been promising myself, for a very long time now, that I would go visit Venexia. I had seen all those gorgeous photos out there and knew that I’d fall in love with this dark roleplay location. Today was, finally, the day to indulge myself. I picked up the Visitor Tag and wandered while I thought about what I wanted to say in this post, or more accurately how I wanted to say it.

If you have even a modicum of self-respect, a fledgling ability to think for yourself, a personality which has emerged out of the shallow end of the pool, and/or the seed of a backbone, you will find the following stories very hard to believe. (That was subtle, right? I’m trying to exercise a little tact.) I promise you, however, that they are true.

Venexia (adult)

Many years ago I had gotten to know somebody in Second Life. I actually knew him much better than he thought – a mutual friend would let me know when I was being lied to, but the lies were never that important. This person’s first life was nothing I was particularly interested in. It wasn’t that kind of friendship. One day I introduced him, we’ll call him Fred, to another of my friends. The two of them seemed to get along and went off doing projects together.

One day Fred came to me and said he’d decided that this other person was untrustworthy. I thought that seemed odd, but said OK and changed the subject. He, however, came back to it repeatedly over the next few days.

It finally sunk in that Fred expected me to drop this other person because of his decision. WTF? I explained, as gently as I could, that I was sorry the two of them had fallen out but that wasn’t going to affect my relationship with either of them.

He was shocked. I was astonished that he, or anybody for that matter, would think that I would make personal decisions like that based solely on his opinion. I don’t take a poll of bystanders before choosing or unchoosing my friends or co-workers or any aspect of my life.

Venexia (adult)

Recently on Plurk, which is like junior high school at the best of times, a gang (it’s like they need each other to access one complete brain) demanded that somebody drop an individual from their timeline because they didn’t like this other person. When she refused they all started defriending her.

Now you and I might think “Great! Clear the gabbling clutter!”, but she wound up leaving a social network that she loved. All because a ravening pack of morons set out to make her life miserable and succeeded. I don’t blame her – why spend your time and energy in a place that is full of so much teenaged angst? Unfortunately it makes that gaggle of brainless, shrill, infants feel empowered.

It all made me think of that guy Fred. At what point in these lives did some powerful entity appear and anoint them with the unrestricted ability to dictate personal decisions to others? Is there an ego drink on the market I’ve missed? RedBull for your arrogance?

Venexia (adult)

To those who might have difficulty understanding why I find this so hard to support, allow me to share the thoughts of people who aren’t part of your little clique.

Some of us decide things for ourselves. If we get new information – well, then, we’ll weigh it and reach our own conclusions. My decision about friends or acquaintances is not dependent on your approval. If I include somebody in an event, and you don’t like them, well maybe I have a different experience with them than you do. Your screaming and bitter invective doesn’t change my mind.

I have to wonder how long that group around you will stick if somebody else points a finger at you and says “hate this person”. Wouldn’t you rather have friends who make up their own minds? Don’t look at me though – my decision about you is already made. :)

Venexia (adult)
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47 Comments

  1. Hear! Hear! Well said.

    While I’m all for collaboration for the sake of learning and getting things done, I’m always a suspicious of “group think.” It usually means that the majority of the members of the group are doing anything but – thinking. And bullying is not a phenomenon which human beings outgrow as they become adults, unfortunately.

    Reply
  2. I sympathize that she felt bad enough to leave. Plurk is definitely filled with keyboard-warrior infantiles, but it has its uses. My timeline has entertained me to no end with their dramas while I sit here reading and silently judging…but I suspect it is not so fun when one is on the other side. I guess the best way is just not to be so involved in it. :(

    Reply
  3. I don’t find it hard to believe at all. Perhaps because I’ve seen it happen just too often. Not only in SL, in RL as well.

    This:

    Unfortunately it makes that gaggle of brainless, shrill, infants feel empowered.

    is the problem. I like this quote from the Labyrinth movie, as an answer to any demand similar to that: “you have no power over me”.

    Greetings.

    Reply
  4. Say that again….haha SL will always be like this.. some ppl i know from irl as morons, excel in bullying ppl in SL. Just because they can. Irl they are losers so this is their only chance to get back at us. Feel sorry for them and move on. Thats what i do :)

    Reply
  5. “If I include somebody in an event, and you don’t like them, well maybe I have a different experience with them than you do.”

    Law Of Triangles: A likes B, B likes C, C hates the shit out of A. Sucks to be B.

    Over the years, I’ve become a lot more selective, and I’ve worked hard at being an acquired distaste. Because the larger your social circle, the more effort you have to expend in maintaining it. The bigger, the wobblier… much like those plate-spinners on the Ed Sullivan Show.

    *crash*

    However, there are a few people I consider to be toxic beyond recovery (PN, for instance). And I’ve found that people connected with them share that toxicity to a degree, or they work hard to justify that connection.

    That’s nice. A little busy here with folks who don’t do social gymnastics to keep their numbers up. Go enjoy more of their poison.

    (I’ll be sipping my own on the patio while watching the cats hunt and race on the fence.)

    “I have to wonder how long that group around you will stick if somebody else points a finger at you and says “hate this person.””

    Happens all the time. “Oh my god, you’re friends with THEM? WHY?” Always brings a smile. And I prefer that they DON’T explain.

    I’ve looked in the mirror deeper than most people fear to look, left a long trail of blood of corpses, and there’s things I like and things I don’t, but that’s reality, eh. If all you can bear is a quick glance now and then, well, I have no desire to change a mind like that, if you can call it a mind.

    World’s got seven billion people in it, plussing and minusing millions in a rolling wave that never ends. Who gives a fuck what a few outspoken rounding errors think, because here comes another wave… here it comes… here it comes…

    -ls/cm

    Reply
  6. Honour, as usual I agree with you. However, I disagree with you. Well, that’s confusing.

    If I understand you correctly, I think what you’ve said and described is true 97-some-odd percent of the time. But like a lot of things concerning people and their interactions, I find little is that black or white. I do think most forms of social networking I’ve seen and been a part of have a lot of junior high in them. Maybe I’m senile and am choosing to remember select things, but honestly, I don’t recall acting like any of that when I was in junior high (or ever). Perhaps that is why, on occasions, I handle the BS so badly. Anyway, I digress…

    You know Simon and Kate, (example!) fairly equally. Simon comes to you and says, “Kate did me wrong!” You can ask what the problem is. You can tell him to work it out on his own. Etc. All things implied in your post, and yes, Simon (or Kate) saying “Dump her/him!” because of “did me wrong” is not fair. Not everyone likes each other. Not all friends of friends have to get along. That’s why god created compartmentalization.

    However, Kate decides to go on a rampage against Simon. She does it in print. She dogs him. She makes his life miserable. She brings in a whole cadre to help her in mission. This is no small tiff; this goes on for years, over multi-platforms. It is very public. Bad on Kate, right?

    Well, what if Kate is still nice to you? Never does anything to you, personally? But you have been made aware of the very public nastiness that Kate smears against Simon.

    Then, I don’t think it is unfair for Simon to finally say, “Look, choose.” Saying, “Kate’s always been ok with me” is a cop out of the bigger picture. It isn’t being an adult — it is fence-sitting at its worst. It is condoning bad behavior by silence. It also is detrimental to Simon, who after such a long time as being the target of such activity, may just be wondering who he can trust.

    That’s part of the picture. But what if Kate is someone you know casually and Simon is a much better friend, who knows you better, for a longer period of time? Doesn’t that up his expectations of you, too?

    Reply
    • I think asking anybody to “choose” is wrong. But, and I pointed this out, if I get information I’ll analyze it and make my own decision. It might be that Kate is somebody I don’t care to know – it might also be that it has all revealed something about Simon that I really dislike.
      It could also be, that their drama is none of my business – unless there’s some compelling reason I wish to make it so. :)
      Deciding that a person can’t keep another on their timeline? That’s just petty and ridiculous – she wasn’t planning to marry them. :)

      Reply
      • I think there are times when “choose” is correct. Not often, but there are times. If you analyze the situation and find Simon is really to blame, that is choosing sides.

        There is private drama and public drama. One doesn’t need to engage in it to recognize it exists, and can be harmful. If one person is continuously harming another, you don’t have to get in there and throw stones, too, but it also isn’t unreasonable for the person who is having stones thrown at them wonder what all the people on the sidelines are doing with their silent condoning. Call it cyber-bullying or whatever, but it amps up the issues.

        Saying their drama isn’t your drama is correct, but if Simon (in this case) is your friend (and let’s say that Kate in this instance is in the wrong), then one would think it is your business to be concerned about ongoing abuse to your friend. If not, then he’s probably not that close a friend and, well, that’s a choice.

        As for deciding that someone can’t keep a person on their timeline? Well that’s the 97% I was talking about that I agree with you about.

    • PS. I was trying not to write a novel and so left off one point: Even if Simon says, “Look, choose” and you do, that still does not mean he has the “right” to expect you to engage in the situation. Telling you to fire off flame posts against Kate or you’re no friend is still not right. Etc.

      Reply
  7. Beautiful photos as usual.

    And you have my heartfelt appreciation for writing this in such a clear and articulate way.

    Reply
  8. Good valid points, Seicher and Crap xx
    (I envy the pics)

    Reply
  9. Brilliant to read, thank you. Being on the outside looking in gives me my freedom, although not a lot of fans.

    Reply
  10. elizawierwight

     /  January 5, 2014

    Wades in to mention Baal and Zora. Wait they created Venexia no drama there . Glad you finally got there Honour, they are two of a very elite group of artists/builders/visionaries that I can still get all flustered fan girl over. Thin on the ground these days. It’s exquisite work.

    As to social networking, I genuinely struggled to understand them to I had a sincere objective that wasn’t self serving (recent networking potential for Save the Elephant Foundation which you so kindly blogged). That’s when they make perfect sense to me.

    Not a fan of drama, most adults will deal with contrasting issues of opinion in a discreet manner in order to not make things uncomfortable for those in the Community. If time is the most precious thing we have (and it is) then how much will we allow ourselves to be dragged into the murky depths of the dysfunction of others with not enough self respect to sort it privately.

    I pay my own accounts, sleep well at night, over 21 and applaud your stance .

    :)

    Reply
  11. Hey, Honour,

    I read your blog almost daily.

    This sort of thing, is why I shy away from most all the “connective media”, in SL, as well as RL. I want a community of close friends, but as you say, ” the junior high” mentality of many people out there, continually reminds me to keep my distance. Plurk, at best, is a clique for most of the users. I keep my faith in evolution, and that we will figure out social media and the internet, and learn and grow. In the mean time, I follow the tried and true litmus test, “would I be OK with this published in the local newspaper”?

    Keep publishing, exploring, and giving us perspective on this RL/SL experience.

    Reply
  12. Mori

     /  January 5, 2014

    Venexia is one of the most impressive builds in SL. What a lovely place.
    I do hope that none of your readers leave with the impression that the artists responsible for this amazing build is, or was part of the childish drama described in your.. review.
    While I agree that many people online are childish, I believe that the are not any more numerous than they were before the invention of the cyberwheel and scripted fire particles. They were simply handed a megaphone that, thankfully, comes with an ignore/mute/block option.
    Thank you for posting such lovely photos of Venexia. I’ve been meaning to return and you’ve reminded me to do so. :)

    Reply
  13. Pep

     /  January 6, 2014

    You all couldn’t have been paying attention to your life lessons in Junior High. You dump both of them, and don’t look back. That will encourage others to behave better, and there are plenty more fish in the sea – we’re not talking a potential alimony source here – especially online where if they really, really like you they will create an alt and establish another monodimensional relationship with you.

    Pep (thinks the concept was incorrectly named; it is anti-social networking.)

    Reply
  14. Well, after successfully resisting the faint whiff of interest I had in Plurk to begin with, I can now certainly say I see very little upside in it if it’s at all how you describe. That, and it has a funky user interface that makes me go cross-eyed – so thanks, but no thanks.

    I think in social media, in SL, or wherever really, one needs to just do what one does, those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind, and all that jazz.

    How many times have we learned that what we valued in the past has no value today? It’s part of the process called “growing up”. Superficial numbers, flimsy allegiances, popularity contests, who is friends with who, gossip and rumour; all mainly meaningless diversions from what really matters in life.

    Reply
    • There are things I really enjoy about Plurk – the ability to have conversations with people, to keep in touch with friends who aren’t inworld very often (if at all) and I’ve met some funny and interesting people.

      My timeline is very low on drama – normally. :)

      Reply
  15. Like Becky, I did a little time in Plurk too. Sorry, just don’t “get” it. It all seemed so dam clique-ish all the time and who wants to constantly be filled with enough angst you feel like a 16 year old who needs to be puking her guts out to regain her youthful girlish figure? I am nkfully, proudly, a card carrying adult who left that age 24 years ago and don’t ever wish to take an hour to worship in the pew (or would it be pee-uuu?) again. I mean it’s ok for some I am sure, but as a new person I felt like the new kid on the block who never got picked for kickball. Besides, my mama taught me, if you don’t have nuthin nice to say…. Anywhooooo.

    Just love these pics! Stunning! And I am sorry your friend experienced such sophomoric crappy behavior. It just aint right. The trolls never stop amazing me. <3

    Reply
  16. A large part of my Plurkline are steampunkers who seem to be low on drama and high on wit – I recommend it! There’s also the gang who share jigsaw puzzles (much overlap here). And it’s proved a great basis for appealing to people when I need extras for film projects etc. I do think it’s possible to have a fun time on Plurk without being Junior High. Or perhaps, like Junior High (I guess, cos I’m a Brit) it’s a case of choosing your cliques.

    Gorgeous pictures of Venexia! Have you tried the Blackskymoon setting there? We used it for our DW show setting there – it gives a dark sky but clarity on buildings and faces (in Firestorm it’s waaaaaaay down at the bottom of the list).

    Reply
  17. Honour,

    I’ve enjoyed your blog over time and find that I agree with you on many things.

    The thing I will never quite understand is why supposed grownups behave like schoolyard bullies when they get into virtual reality.

    Case in point. I took a toddler – one who happened to be a bloodlines queen, no less – under my wing. I turned my life upside down for her, but it was never enough. She wasn’t happy unless every other person in the world was catering to her wishes. Finally, I’d had enough, and removed her from my virtual life.

    This Christmas, a man came to me that seemed to be so compatible with me that I sincerely wondered where he’d been all my virtual life. We spent pretty much every waking hour together. Then come two days after Christmas, and he vanishes. Stops answering texts. Removes me from skype. Won’t answer anyone else inworld, even though we knew who his alt was and tried to contact him.

    How are these two events connected? It seems the adult behind the toddler has the attitude of a teenager, and was so angry that I’d turned my back on her that she either hired or asked the man behind that avatar to come and start a relationship with me, then drop me, so I’d supposedly feel the hurt she had felt. Nevermind that she was a selfish immature brat who started fights with people just for fun, and caused quite a bit of drama within my family. No…it was MY fault for finally saying “enough” and dropping her.

    Whomever this guy is, he must really be proud of himself for trying to destroy the heart of someone like me, who has gone out of her way to be kind and generous to others. Congratulations, whomever you are. Karma is a bitch.

    Marie

    Reply
    • Pep

       /  January 13, 2014

      Karma? I use my karma to run over annoying dogmas.

      Pep (ran over a smelly big cat once; it was a puma.)

      Reply
    • That appears to be connecting lines that may not be there because they help to rationalize two irrational events.

      Such connecting is often what is behind the “grownups behav[ing] like schoolyard bullies when they get into [a] virtual reality” phenomenon.

      I’ve had the clique turn on me before – some of the circles in SL are particular havens for this sort of thing – packs of fish that will leap at an opportunity to attack one in their midst that shows the ‘wrong signals’. Such places, forums, communities – are best avoided. You either become one of the predators, one of the prey, or both – once you get swept up with them.

      Reply
  18. Great post, Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately lot’s of the negativity in RL ends up transferred to SL some how or other, which is always a shame. Maybe some people feel they can get away with negative things in SL that they can’t in RL. It’s sad, but interesting to observe, if you’re lucky enough not to be involved in it.

    Reply
  1. The Infantile Side of Social Networks & Sec...

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