Listening to some people, you’d think sl pretty much resembles the dregs at the bottom of a very unsavoury barrel of rottenness – not so much in the sense that sl is traditionally considered – usually by the ill-informed – to be dreggy, ie. excesses of jiggery-pokery naughtiness, but more in the sense that the shininess and all-round fabulousness of the virtual world has become rather lacklustre and dull… all the more ironic really, considering the gleaming offerings that Project Sunshine promises.
This, by the way, is not the way that i personally feel – but it is the overriding impression i’ve gained from perusing a number of sl forums, which seem to have more than their fair share of ‘SL is pants’ posts on a pretty regular basis, along with what i’ve picked up from the sl world in general – much of which, it has to be said, is along the lines of ‘If the Lindens ‘improve’ SL any more, it’s stop working altogether’ – which i have to say, is both a little unfair, and somewhat inaccurate.
Not that any of the above departs much from the normal state of affairs: If there’s one thing that we sl people are terribly good at, it’s doomsaying and pessimism. Anyone who’s ever explored the mire of sl history will be able to reel off countless innovations that supposedly foretold complete disaster, endless haggling and deprecating views over the state of sl affairs, and seemingly never ending debates, arguments and scornful commentaries on the dire state of the sl economy, technology, demographic and business model. It’s gone on ever since sl first burst onto the internet, and will no doubt still be fertile ground for the ‘I told you so’ brigade, long after sl has gone off to that great asset server in the sky.
A quick trek through the days of the past reveals umpteen occasions that apparently spelled the doom of sl… The end of credit card age-verification; the advent of point-to-point teleporting; the gambling ban; the end of inworld banking; the closure of the Teen Grid; mesh; Pathfinding; Linden Realms; Steam and now, SSA – all of them proclaimed to be surefire nails in the sl coffin, guaranteed to result in wholesale departures, the death of the SLeconomy and and end to Linden life as we know it.
Somehow, despite all the doom and gloom, sl is still alive and kicking, so things surely cannot be all that bad, can they?
The simple fact – and please feel free to prove me wrong – is that sl, warts and all, is actually doing pretty well for itself and, no matter what those who may think otherwise have to say, it still has an awful lot going for it… the real fly in the ointment, the spanner in the works and the proper pain in the arse that makes the stink that typifies the fetid depths of the rotten barrel of doom of sl, is us.
Yep… because no matter how wonderful, amazing and full of unicorns and pink marshmallows sl might have been, is, or will be, it will never be good enough for us! The Lindens could give us real-life graphics, delivered blindingly fast, free tier and no upload charges, and a viewer that automatically moulded itself to our own personal preferences by thought-transference and we’d still moan about the colour of the login page! No matter how good it is, it seems that we cannot bear the thought that it might ever be fit for purpose. So we latch on to every possible whiff of controversy or failure and clasp it to our hearts, convincing ourselves in the process that sl is utterly doomed and a complete lost cause.
This seems to be the general human condition – the more advanced, capable and successful we become, the less competent we appear to be at appreciating what we have. It’s a phenomenon that’s plainly evident in much of the forward-thinking of the last couple of hundred years, with Jules Verne being possibly one of the last of the influential thinkers to posit any sort of future in a good light. Take a look at the popular literature, art and cinematography of later generations and, wherever you turn, the idea of an Utopian future is lost, as the future of humanity is predicted to be ever more darkly dystopian. Whether it’s the denial of knowledge and unthinking consumerism of Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World, or the helpless, hopeless worlds of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Bladerunner and even, The Matrix – humanity, it seems, along with free-thinking, creativity and leisure, is doomed. Oh joy!
It would seem that we’re only happy when we’re miserable. So, put us in a world where we have the freedom to be creative, the ability to do the impossible and the chance to succeed and be excellent and all that we seem able to dwell upon is how badly the whole thing works. i have a sneaking suspicion that many of us get a real buzz when things go wrong, just because they reinforce our own presumptions that everything is going to turn out for the worse. It’s what i like to term as ‘British Weather Syndrome’ – it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, it’s going to make us miserable… too hot, too cold, too wet, too dull, it’s all just a load of crappiness – and that’s exactly the way we like it.
Well, i prefer to stick with the facts – sl has demonstrated a startling capacity for endurance and shows no real sign of going downhill any time soon. On the whole, i have a whole lot of fun inworld, and possibly an equal amount of fun, poking fun, at those who never seem to have any fun. Speaking realistically, Utopia it ain’t, but then it’s a whole lot closer to it than the real world seems capable of managing. So if you don’t mind, i’ll just carry on in my happy little rosy-hued blur of merriment, you’re welcome to come too, but please, no ugly frowns along the way!
Everyone around, love them, love them
Put it in your hands, take it, take it
There’s no time to cry, happy, happy
REM – Happy Shiny People