We Second Lifers are a pretty laid back bunch on the whole – whilst it’s true that we all have our ‘off’ days and, just as in rl, we can’t be full of beans and joie de vivre all the time, we generally get along without any real problems. Perhaps one of the defining characteristics of the sl social scene is that we can be pretty merciless when it comes to taking the ‘proverbial’ out of each other and we’ll seize on any character trait, cock-up or foible as fair game for a good old mickey-take. To be fair, it’s very much a case of ‘giving as good as you get’ – few of us escape the ignominy of being on the receiving end of gentle mockery and – attack being the best form of defence – we’ll always try to get our own wisecracks in first! The result is that, all over sl, wherever friends gather together, there’s a very good chance that they’ll end up trading wisecracks and insults in a manner reminiscent of Stan and Ollie swapping blows. It’s all good clean fun and nobody ever takes offence… that’s just the way it is.
At least, that’s how it should work – i’ve often thought that somebody new to sl happening upon such a gathering might well find themselves wondering what on earth is going on. Anyone unversed in the weird mechanics of sl social interaction could come away with the impression that we all hate each other with a passion, the likes of which have never been seen. After being exposed to the verbal and gesturetorial equivalent of group cage fighting any onlooker would wonder how on earth we manage to occupy the same pixelverse, let alone remain good friends. The secret, of course, is that we are good friends and that all this rumbunctious ribbing is completely tongue in cheek, and both given and received in a spirit of mirthsome affection.
Which is fine, if both sides get the joke – it does get a bit sticky once somebody grabs the wrong end of the stick (yep, pun absolutely intended!). As i seemed to hear on a boringly regular basis as a child, ‘Yes, it’s all good fun until someone loses an eye!’ – it wasn’t always an eye; depending on the circumstances it could be ‘breaks a leg’, ‘dies horribly’ or, ‘gets run over by a double-decker bus’ – y’know, always the most likely of scenarios during a game of tag, or similar such dangerous pursuits. When this sort of thing happens, it pays to remember that this is sl and not at all serious by any stretch of the imagination – if you’re going to get insulted by somebody making fun of you in a spandex and rubberised Minnie Mouse costume, then you probably shouldn’t be here in the first place.
Then there are those people who seem to operate on a completely different level altogether. Nobody is quite sure exactly what it is that they’re getting from being in sl, but whatever it is, it sure ain’t the same place that we’re experiencing. These are the people for whom irony is something to do with pressing clothes and jokey repartee is a boozy get-together for gag book salesmen, (you’ll work it out in a sec). It’s almost as if they’ve had a sense of humour bypass operation – everything is taken literally and everything they say is pointedly factual, to the point sometimes of being blatantly insulting, even though they’d be mortified at the suggestion that they may have offended.
The trouble with such people is the utter ease with which you can blatter them with merciless and constant teasing, completely secure in the knowledge that they have absolutely no idea that you’re mocking them. Even worse, you know that you can say the most outrageously ridiculous things to them, which they’ll take completely literally, resulting in even greater mirth for everyone nearby.
You’ve guessed – correctly – that i take a pernicious delight in poking fun at such people; but i do have a conscience… Sometimes i take a mental step back and look at the things i’m saying and feel just a little shame. Is it really right to have a laugh at someone else’s expense, if they’ve not a clue that you’re doing it? Is it really the done thing to pick on someone just because they seem incapable of distinguishing between humour and sarcasm?
At such times i feel a little remorseful and terribly guilty and that other expression from my childhood pops into my head… ‘It’ll all end in tears’. Unfortunately my pang of regret usually only lasts until the next pointed and completely rude remark they make about a close friend, (‘Why is your butt so huge and why has your avatar the complexion of rancid cheese?’) – and then i don’t feel so bad!
One of these night you’re gonna get caught,
And She’ll give you a pregnant pause for thought
You’re a dedicated swallower of fascism
Billy Bragg – Accident Waiting To Happen