I've been on the Internet a long, long time. When I started, people communicated via basic Unix shells and Bulletin Board Systems (BBS's for short). I've watched it grow exponentially from a few really popular sites to something which spans the globe and contains more information than any physical library could hope to hold.
I've watched the kerfluffle over XXX rated sites and what they had to do to protect themselves from children. I deliberately stated it in that fashion because inquisitive children found ways to get around Nanny Watch and see the XXX sites - the site owners never sought the children out.
I've also watched the evolution of human interaction, from BBS's, to Internet Relay Chat (IRC), to message boards, to social networking sites, and now to 3D Social Networking.
The people haven't changed much, despite all the change in the diversity of formats. The bad apples have grown in number though. Such is life when the home computer got cheap enough that nearly everyone could afford to have one.
It is well known, to those of us who know it well, that children will band together to pick on a sole individual. It's herd behavior, pure and simple. You'll see it echoed in the wild; simply watch a band of chimpanzees for instance. Being animals which are closely related to Simians, it's not that surprising to see such instinct-based behaviors displayed in humankind.
What IS surprising is how many fail to grow BEYOND the instinctual behavior even though they are just as sentient as the next person. Many perpetuate the "schoolyard gang" behavior well into adult life. They hide it well in their daily interactions with others, only to come home, sign onto their computer, and vomit schoolyard bullshit all over other Internet users.
Live Journal is renown for its hordes of trolls. Well, now Second Life is, too, thanks to the enterprising individual who created the douchelist. A rather interesting fact about the douchelist and those who participate in it: It exposes the attitudes and intentions of people in a way that no one even thought it would when it was created. The following essay is comprised of some of my thoughts resulting from these observations.
Many people are lonely and that's a byproduct of a society based on the ideas of "everyone out for themselves" and "get as much as you can, when you can and damn the consequences". We're in a depression because greedy people spent the past 8 years doing just that. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that such an attitude "trickled down" - especially when my peers who became parents, were either too busy chasing that "dream" or just trying to stay afloat, so they didn't have the kind of time to devote to their kids that our parents had.
TV is well-known as a "babysitter"; well, now the Internet is, too. Scores of parents, tired from working one or more jobs, fail to pay attention to what their son or daughter is up to. They also failed to attend to some very crucial parenting - such as teaching their kids to have general respect for others. Lastly, our culture has been swallowed by Mass Marketing and regurgitated to the past couple of generations as "rebranded culture". This has resulted in a dumbing-down of many people and has robbed them of their ingenuity, curiosity, and ability to think for themselves. Why think for yourself when you have corporations doing it for you?
There are countless scores of people who get into Second Life out of loneliness, looking for that mate they can't find in the concrete world. EVERYBODY brings there offline baggage with them, no matter what their reason for coming here - and if they're looking for a relationship because they can't seem to sustain one in concrete life, oftentimes you find it is because of their attitudes, or the damage they've suffered at the hands of others.
Many people think Social Networking = shopping for a mate. Second Life is, first and foremost, 3D Socal Networking.
Others think Second Life = game. That idea couldn't be further from the truth, and those who persist in approaching it like any other video game are not only going to cause trouble for themselves, they will cause harm and trouble to others, especially those of us who know better.
Many of the detractors found spewing all over the douchlist see Second Life as a game. Even when you endeavor to correct their points of view, they persist in viewing Second Life as a game. Since Second Life is nothing without the real people who create avatars and content, that means that the rest of us are "game pieces" in their eyes.
How many of you reading this have found yourself treated like a "commodity", rather than a real person, in concrete life? Take that and multiply it by 10 and you have the general level of abuse these "game players" inflict on others inworld and out.
The average person who views Second Life as a game fits into the following set of characteristics, a list which is neither complete, nor exclusive: They are in their 20s, usually under 25, or at least behave like they are; they have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships in the concrete world; they show a demonstrable lack of respect for other people, and will often pursue a relationship with another, not to enrich their life and the other person's, not because they want to make another happy, but because they are after something - sex, money, etc. - and they will stay with that person until either the person wises up to their "using mentality" and dumps them, or until the person has nothing left to give.
This sort of person shows a sometimes astonishing lack of self-responsibility and commonly blames other people or things for the messes they create in other people's lives. They are also passive-aggressive, in that their standard schtick is "I didn't do anything wrong", usually expressed when their own decisions, words, actions have forced another person to react in a way they find unpleasant. They seem to lack the ability to view that their lives are like a bull in a china shop: No matter where they move, delicate china is destroyed forever. People's feelings are damaged forever. Mentalities are altered in unpleasant ways. Worse yet, others lose money, their good name, their credit because of the choices a person like this makes...and yet they persist in declaring that they've done nothing wrong.
It's to the point with some people that it could be declared a psychosis. It's nearly unimaginable how anyone could go through life, destroying that "china", and blaming the china for being there, instead of their own clumsy movements.
Many people come into Second Life exactly as themselves; they will find an avatar/skin/clothing that reflects how they really are in the concrete world. To that I say, what's the point? Such people have missed the unlimited possibilities that Second Life has to offer, and all they're here to do is live yet another version of their first lives. That may be all fine and good, and beneficial for some - but it causes great conflict and grief when such a "bull" bumbles into the "china shop" of a creative, sensitive person who does realize SL's possibilities.
The vast majority of the populace has always been clumsy and sightless. Why do you think they put irreplaceable treasures behind many barriers in museums? Because the majority who view them would grab them, manhandle them, break them, or steal them. Many lack the capability to simply view, appreciate, and let the object inspire creative thought. The barriers have multiplied because this way of 'bumbling through life' has increased dramatically.
So you take such a person and you say "Here is 3D virtual reality. What will you do with it?" 99% of them will haul their clumsy selves right in and do exactly what they do (or would do) in real life. They may pretty up themselves, get an avatar and skin that makes them look like a movie star, but the person behind that avatar is still the same-old same-old who would've manhandled, broken, or stolen that irreplaceable museum item. And they don't do any different with other people in Second Life.
Second Life has "griefers" - bored people who go around making SL hell for anyone they can affect with their antics. They're the most obvious of the bumblers...what's less obvious are those who think they are something unique but who basically follow the crowd, the trends, the regurgitated commercial culture they have been immersed in. You don't see how they really are until they begin to interact with the Dreamers and Creators in Second Life.
Dreamers and Creators...Second Life has plenty of those, too, though I'd classify them as a relative minority. People like myself, who is disabled in concrete life, and wanted not only to experience again the freedom of having a well-toned body that does what you want it to, but also to build and create beauty that can only be created in a 3D virtual world. Someone who wondered what it would be like to be a fox, or a rabbit, or any number of fantastical creatures that can be dreamt up. Someone who has done a lot of roleplaying over her Internet years and saw this as fertile ground for roleplay beyond just words on a screen. In other words someone who wants to test out dreams to see how they feel, create new and beautiful things and share them with others, someone who is a free thinker, who doesn't let the corporations hem her in and box her into a predetermined mindset. Yes, we're here, but we are a relative minority...
...and when one of the bumblers finds us, they will often "try us on for size". They are drawn to our creative energy, our optimism about life, our life force which, when extended, makes others happy and safe. They want what we possess but they fail to realize that it comes from inside and cannot be bought or manufactured. When they fail to attain their goal, they will move on, and blame us for what they think they lack. They may try to imitate us to "steal our thunder" but they often fail in what they do, because again, the origin is from within, not without.
We have learned to let others know exactly where our boundaries are - what we will allow and not allow. We have become adept at articulating those boundaries so that even a 6-year-old could understand. No matter how well we do our jobs to let others know what they can expect and not expect, the bumblers will keep bumbling and it'll all go over their heads like so many balloons. That's because what we are saying does not fit with the agenda they are already playing inside their heads so it's like so much background noise.
Then they blame us when they test those boundaries and find them solid, or when they don't communicate well even though they have plenty of chances to. They blame us when we make an effort to find out what's going on from other people, and they blame us when we move on, realizing what they are. It's all Our Fault because we didn't read their minds and/or follow the Agenda they tried to impose on us.
I have news for such people: Look in the concrete mirror. THAT is the person who is at fault and to blame. You may have not learned that you are the Captain of your Life but you are and now is a good a time as any to learn it.
Don't come to Second Life with the idea that it's a game and you can treat others like game pieces. Don't come to Second Life thinking it'll solve all your relationship problems because it won't. Don't come to Second Life to scam others, because sooner or later, you'll get caught out. Don't come to Second Life expecting everyone else to dance to YOUR tune.
DO come to Second Life to perhaps try some things you can't do in concrete life. DO come to Second Life to get to know others on a level not available in simple text chat or via website. DO come to Second Life to dream, and create, and share with others. DO come to Second Life to reconnect with the best of your humanity, the social, gregarious animal who likes to have inclusive relationships where others are free to be themselves.
Second Life makes one realize that the mental part of living knows no physical barriers and can be extended into other realms beyond the physical universe. Remember that in your travels here, and stop bumbling around.