Sometimes the best jokes are the ones you keep to yourself – the ones that make you smile inwardly with just a knowing look. The sort of joke that’s not necessarily funny or humorous in the normal sense, but has the distinctive whiff of irony about it, like the warning sign i came across recently: ‘Caution! Loose anti-slip matting’.
Any situation that gives rise to ‘expertise’ is fertile ground for inadvertent humour, usually spawned by the witlessness of the self-proclaimed expert, woefully and blissfully unaware of their own capability for touting what is often essentially, bovine manure. Consider Del Boy’s ‘mange tout, mange tout’, and you’ll see what i mean – i’ve never really been entirely sure whether these plonkers really do believe they’re spouting pearls of wisdom, or know that they’re talking cobblers, safe in the knowledge that those around them are either too gullible to notice, or too daft to challenge them.
My dad is the perfect example of this – bless him – he’ll lecture authoritatively for hours on subjects as varied as the intricacies of politics, home insurance, snooker and the Periodic Table, to all intents an expert in every field he turns his attention to, when in truth, he’s talking the biggest load of claptrap you could ever wish to hear. Pointless arguing with him – that way madness lies, as he tackles your every rebuttal with a convoluted and never-ending stream of nonsense until your ears bleed and your brain turns to mush! So we humour him, going along with everything he says and nodding sagely as he makes his point. On the other hand, there are those who have no idea themselves, and cling to his every word as if he was the walking Wikipedia of the common man.
There are enormous similarities on the world wide web, of course – well-meaning, but misguided buffs on every subject under the sun, and a few other subjects that are probably only myths – every one of them sharing their wisdom with all the authority of Stephen Hawking on football tactics… whole swathes of true believers follow in their wake, whilst those in the know chuckle at the foolishness of unquestioning minds and fertile imaginations.
Inevitably, sl is is a breeding ground for such creative wisdom, which can lead to some beautifully ironic, even iconic moments. My favourite of recent times, was an sl fashion bloggers’ retort to criticism, in which they knowledgeably argued that their practice of doctoring images to enhance the subject matter was a necessary remedy for artefacts arising from ambient ‘occupation’! Sweetheart, if you’re going to play the ambient occlusion card, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you could at least get the terminology right to start with! It gave me a chuckle anyway.
Let’s face it, ‘experts’ are ten a penny in sl – there are many who talk authoritatively about avatar rendering values, script memory, server lag and advancd lighting models, yet basically have no idea what they’re talking about – as can be plainly seen from a cursory scrutiny of their witterings if you take the time, rather than simply believe everything they have to say, and the simple fact is these ‘experts’ perpetrate a whole bunch of myth and nonsense about sl that is believed by a huge number of people.
Now, i don’t have any particular axe to grind when it comes to such things – as i’ve said, i have a quiet giggle at the daftness of it all, and then get on with my SLife, but it does concern me that so many people – whether in sl, or indeed, out in the big wide world – are so willing to believe things without questioning or challenging what they are told – to me, that’s a disaster just waiting to happen. One of the joys of sl is discovering things for ourselves, whether it’s building, commerce, scripting or the technical quirks of the viewer and our virtual environment – surely it’s in the very nature of the sort of people who are attracted to sl to question, explore and discover? Yet, so often, it seems that the minute we arrive inworld, we start bleating “i don’t know how to play this game!”, and latch on to the very first thing anybody tells us, without ever making the effort to test its veracity or provenance, and once that sorry process starts it seems there are an awful lot of people, content to carry own for the rest of their SLives in that vein. That just seems to me to be something terribly remiss.
Or maybe i’m wrong.
More than you’ll ever know
Everything I can show
I have the answers to all questions
Above us here and far below
Magnum – The Teacher