Thursday, 22 May 2014
020: What do you do?
If you've been wondering why I haven't posted lately, I've been thinking and thinking about a big post -- something serious. Like many gay guys in SL, I spend a lot of time out dancing at various clubs. (And occasionally inviting someone back to my place to bump pixels, just like real life -- but not so much of that these days.) So my Second Life is pretty much spent shopping, redecorating, styling, dancing, chatting, and fucking.
In the last while, I had an unfortunate encounter with a gentleman who -- well, he'll certainly remain nameless, and I'll just say that one of the things he enjoys about SL seems to be emotional outbursts and drama. And I'm not interested in that stuff, so I finally did something I very rarely do; I unfriended him and blocked his pixelly ass. I haven't done that very often at all, but I was at an emotional point where if I'd been in RL with this person, I'd've taken him out the back and kicked his ass. It cost me the opportunity to play in what might have been an interesting role-play area, since he's a mainstay there and I'm not going back. So now I know why so many of my friends have declarations in their profiles about "save your drama for your mama" and that sort of thing. Ugh.
But I'm not here to whine about that; it happens to us all and occasionally we just have to kick ass and take names (and block avs). I believe a lot of people share my belief that some people come to SL because they have personal mental issues that nobody can deal with in RL, so they bring those problems to SL and take them out on other avs. SL is anonymous, you can be anybody you want, and there are no consequences for bad behaviour other than the occasional block. And if enough people block you, I suppose there are other MMOs ... but I hope to never need to find out, since I rather like SL and I don't think I have many problems playing well with others. So in the future when I meet someone who is manipulative and aggressive and whiny, well, I suppose I'll be a bit faster to block him next time.
This all got me thinking, though. These days, in any situation online, you have to protect yourself from people for whom there are no consequences for bad behaviour. If it's not trolls in forums, or spammers, it's people who think they're entitled to bully you in SL. I've learned over the years how to protect myself and SL is no exception.
The thing is, though, in RL, I've given many years of my life to helping others. I like helping people and I like to see them reach more of their full potential. Honestly, I rather thought I'd eventually find a way in SL to help others; that's part of the reason I started working on this blog. I've learned some interesting and useful stuff over the years I've been here, and I think people will be looking for it because this is the kind of thing that *I* was looking for online when I first started in SL. I think a crucial part of helping others is communicating with them; I enjoy communicating with people and I hate doing the opposite, which is blocking them. I regard that as a little bit of a failure, but not much; as my grandma used to say, "You can't be civil to every fool." There are plenty of people in SL to have fun with and communicate with, and I intend to keep trying to do that.
I spend a lot of time in gay clubs where the open channel is not filled with interesting interpersonal communication; it's filled with people pressing buttons to squirt a gesture into the public channel that is a sound clip that's only marginally relevant to what's going on. (And, parenthetically, if I hear "Oooh lalalalala I LOVE this tune!" one more time in exactly the same gestural sound clip that sounds like a demented chipmunk, there will be violence done. I already write off clubs if the open channel is more filled with gestures than communication, but that particular one is omnipresent.) So I'm not communicating; I spend a lot of time listening to silly gestures, and I'm starting to think that gestures are like the complete opposite of communication. They're used by people to replace communication, and I suspect that the more of them you use, the less able you are to actually communicate.
So I shop, dance, and fuck. I'm not complaining; all those things are fun and I like doing them. But I feel there must be something more for me to do in SL, and I'm trying to figure out what that might be. I'll have some more to say about this in a while, once I think it through. I have some ideas, they just need a little refinement. But I wanted to throw this open to my (very few but cherished) readers. If you care to respond, perhaps you can tell me. What is it that you think there is to do in Second Life that is useful, and helps others? How can I promote communication? Is there something I'm missing?