…As I was saying: SL suffers at the hands of those whose perceptions of the virtual world, for sometimes completely illogical reasons, are rather imperfectly framed, or – as I like to term it – imperceptions.
Yesterday I wrote about how so many residents are under the misguided illusion that SL is hopelessly broken and mired in the past, when actually the facts speak for themselves – SL is improving by leaps and bounds in terms of performance and is still very much a gold standard against which virtual worlds might be measured. What is doubly irritating is that much of the perceived poor performance and failure is entirely down to a basic lack of appreciation of the nature of complex systems, coupled with those users’ basic bad practice, thus ensuring that SL doesn’t have a fighting chance of showing it’s capabilities.
That however isn’t the only bad press that SL routinely suffers from, and once again people’s basic perceptions of what the virtual world is about tend often to be coloured by assumptions and misinformation, rather than hard facts.
One area in particular where SL has never fared well – and possibly rightly so in the past – is the picture of the virtual world that is painted by those who have either never themselves experienced it, or otherwise seem quite happy to believe anecdotal evidence and hearsay without question. The reality is that SL is a vibrant virtual world that showcases a whole range of human creativity and facilitates complex social interaction that can cross boundaries and inspire those who are part of it. The imperception, which is widely believed to be true, is that SL is a seedy, pornographic and relentless shag-fest; or alternatively, an environment so beleaguered by griefers that any attempt to pursue anything worthwhile is utterly futile. Now, again I’m not going to argue that such things don’t go on in our virtual world – they do, and in fact, they are a valid part of SLife’s rich pageant just as much as the artists, DJs and creators, but they only make up an underwhelmingly small part of the whole, and are are by no means representative of the vast majority of SL users or scenarios.
Interestingly, the contention that sex dominates the virtual world almost exclusively stems from the good old frontier days of SL, when it was a much less regulated inworld activity than it is now. It’s true that back then you could indeed stumble across poseball porn in the most innocent of settings, but that hasn’t been the norm for years now and it’s perfectly possible to spend all your free time inworld and never once come across anything more racy than an excess of exposed pixel flesh – no different then to any other virtual world or multiplayer game on any platform. Yes, I won’t deny that there has been the odd occasion when I’ve been propositioned in rather unsavoury terms whilst minding my own business in SL, but that’s happened to me just as frequently in the real world, and I imagine that it happens on other platforms too – so why single out SL?
Even so, that’s exactly what happens and it’s not too difficult to find ’empirical evidence’ of SL’s sleazy nature touted as fact by a number of dubious articles, periodically recycled around the metaverse, written by hacks who may never even have set foot inworld. Almost all such ‘factual’ accounts of life online tend to pin all their assumptions upon one particularly notorious Anshe Chung interview video, from the glory days of 2006. How on earth it’s possible to base one’s entire appraisal of a platform like SL from an eight-year old film of flying flumps beats me; but what bemuses me far more are the vast swathes of people utterly convinced as a result of such nonsense, that SL is a seething hive of iniquity!
Speaking of videos, let’s consider the whole griefing misconception. Being realistic, we have to accept that griefing happens – in SL, other virtual worlds, MMOs, GTA, Minecraft, real life… Yep, pretty much everywhere. Yet, for some reason, a vast number of those who choose to commentate on SL in the multitude of blogs and forums also choose to ignore this simple fact and hold up SL as the pinnacle of griefism, conveniently latching on to that repository of reliable truth – Youtube – where an abundance of fertile pickings can be found to justify their claims, whilst they equally conveniently somehow manage filter out the equally damning evidence that every other platform out there suffers just as badly, if not more so, from such things. And it’s not that bad anyway – stay away from those welcome areas populated solely by alts who only gather there to slag off other alts in voice – and you can pretty much avoid any griefing full stop. Yes, there will be occasions when a sim grinds to a halt as a result of a malicious attack, but it’s hardly the norm.
Misinformation, biased reporting and an unquestioning, easily-led flock of sheep – the perfect breeding ground for rife imperception!
And yes, there’s more tomorrow…
Sex in 3D
No evil eyes see
Too much of it and you’ll go blind
Extreme – Pornograffitti