Anti-social networking

The observant among you may have noticed an ever so slight reticence on my part to embrace the plethora of social networking experiences available on the web. This might strike you as a little odd, since sl is, in every sense, the very definition of a social network – however, for me there’s a very clear distinction between what is effectively a ‘closed network’, where any links are forged on the level of shared experience and like-minded people and, more importantly, can be completely contained within itself, with no need to reference rl, or any other outside links.

On the other hand, most other social networks of the MyFaceTwitBeboogle+ variety, despite having the facility to cater for ‘interest groups’, are essentially open to all-comers and the expectation is that everyone has the right to pry and comment on everybody else’s business, preferably ad-nauseum throughout the day. Personally, i resent that level of intrusion into my life – in fact i resent the implication that any other person should have the right to intrude. Closely linked to this is the inevitable voyeuristic element that is so compelling… not only do we want to know what is going on in our ‘friends’ life, but we’re drawn into the lives of their ‘friends’, we feel a compulsion to look at their photos, what’s happening in their life and that of their ‘friends’ too… and so it continues. Nobody has a private life anymore.

Perhaps it’s just me – i feel much the same about mobile ‘phones: i find it extremely easy to ignore a ringing ‘phone; i see it as intrusive, uninvited and unnecessary. i also resent getting involuntarily pulled into other people’s conversations, as they walk down the street, or sit on the train, voluably wittering on about their latest business deal or what colour Mavis is painting her kitchen. It’s none of my business and, more to the point, i don’t want it to be forcibly made to be my business… just keep it to yourself!

You’ll recall I wrote recently about how Linden Lab have jumped on the social bandwagon, with the intention of integrating sl with just about any other network out there – well, the Lindens have now released more details and it seems that their wonderful web profiles will now allow you to connect directly with all your favourite sites. Apparently, it’s easy to forget about the real world whilst enjoying sl so, lest we fall into that particular trap, we’ll now be given the opportunity to share our lives – first and second – on the fly, exchange photographs, give status updates and find out what all our less sad friends with real lives are getting up to in the real world, without ever leaving the safety of sl. Oh joy!

Other innovations include easier access to windlight settings and search and, yes!… even more new system avatars, which reflect ‘a spectrum of ethnicities’ – gosh, soon we won’t have to trouble ourselves with customising bodies and clothing: The Lindens will do it all for us! Interestingly, LL still seem to think that giving us robot avatars and moving the search bar from the top to the bottom of the screen is more important than eliminating lag, faster rezzing and allowing me to log in without having to perform a character test and rebuild myself on every other occasion! (Me… bitter?).

Before you all skip the rest and go straight to the tune at the end – rather than have to endure me on my personal soap box, waffling on about how much I hate social networks – maybe i should point out that i don’t think that they’re necessarily bad things. Potentially, any one of the web based social networks is a fantastic resource that can be used in any number of creative ways – they are tools, which when employed effectively can achieve remarkable things in the right hands – therein lies the problem, of course. Like any tool, these sites can be misused – either simply through sloppiness, (“Freddie can’t choose between pizza or curry” – “Seren likes this post”) or through blatantly engineering situations to achieve a desired aim, without regard for the consequences on others. The latter typified by the use of some networks to arrange illegal raves and, currently in the spotlight, the use of BBM and Twitter to instigate rioting. No there’s nothing wrong with BBM and Twitter in responsible hands, in just the same way that there’s nothing offensive or bad about a scaffolding pole, as long as it’s used for its intended purpose. However, once you start to use that same scaffolding pole to smash bus windows and throw at police officers, it’s a very different thing: i don’t blame the scaffolding pole – i blame the plank that’s wielding it.

i wasn’t going to mention the current situation, but i’m so incensed at what i’ve seen, especially at some of the twaddle that’s been pedalled out as excuses and reasons for what’s been happening by the great and good. Let’s get things straight, what we’ve been seeing in city centres across the country over the last few nights is nothing to do with ‘protest’, nothing to do with social disadvantage or disaffected youth; it’s not caused by lack of education, opportunity or financial inequalities – it boils down to just one thing – a complete lack of respect.

It’s a lack of respect for the law, lack of respect for property, lack of respect for the rights of others, lack of respect for the community and a complete lack of respect for oneself. It’s about time we started drumming some of that respect back into people!

Personally, if i was in charge, i’d have water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets right now, and looters would be shot. Too extreme? Maybe – but it’s years of holding back, taking a softly-softly approach and pandering to the little swines that’s given us a generation who think they can get away with murder, intimidate people in the street and then blame everybody else for the lack of life opportunities open to them. It’s bullying, plain and simple, and for way too long, we’ve given in to the bullies.

How do you stop the bullying? Well, i was always told you stand up to them and, if all else fails, give them a taste of their own medicine. i know there are those who will say that it’s wrong to fight fire with fire – i disagree: It seems to me a fairly simple premise that if people choose to disregard the rules of society and common decency, then they also forfeit the right to be treated as a regular member of society and with any decency themselves – if you choose to live by the sword, then you die by the sword, i believe some chap called Jesus came up with that one a couple of thousand years ago.

Personally, i’d rather live in a police state, where law and order holds sway and authority is respected, than a war zone where anarchy and violence make you afraid to go out at night.

i digress; i apologise. Perhaps there’s an object lesson to be learned – sl is no different from any social network and i suppose it’s inevitable that in this interconnected world there are those who feel that the virtual world needs to be connected more closely to reality. That leaves us with a simple choice: Anarchy or Community?

So, what’ll it be?

S. x

After a storm
I want to be brave
Sol Seppy – Enter One

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