Could do better

I’ve always liked people who have a ‘can do’ attititude, I consider myself to fall into that category – where others might see difficulties and obstacles, I tend to see opportunities and alternatives. ‘Can do’ people are great to have on a team and just get on with the job without dithering, or messing about.

Whilst it’s usually a very positive and productive thing to either be that sort of person, or be around them, there’s a world of difference between those with a ‘can do’ attitude who really can do what they set out to, and those who think they can, but quite definitely can’t! How important this may turn out to be depends entirely on context: It’s one thing, for example to say to a teenager who thinks they know it all, ‘you’ll have to make your own supper tonight’, knowing full-well that when it all goes horribly wrong, they’ll just order in a pizza; it’s quite another thing to have a brain surgeon who’s happy to ‘have a go… After all, what’s the worst that can happen?’

Usually, in the wider scale of things, everything works itself out though: Mistakes are made, lessons are learned and damage limitation is deployed. It’s all part of life’s rich pageant.

When it comes to SL, we seem to have way more than our fair share of ‘can do’ people, or should I say, ‘can do’ people, who really can’t do – and, more to the point – shouldn’t!

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Recently, I came across an homage to an historical sim that disappeared from the Grid around 10 years ago. What a great idea, and one that I’m all in favour of. You could tell, from the creator’s profile, that this was something they felt passionately about, and they were incredibly proud of their efforts, however no amount of self-conviction that they could pull off a great recreation of this iconic location could hide the fact that, whatever the talents of the person behind it all, building was not one of them! Unless, of course, the intention was to recreate the original location in all its 2007 glory, with none of the improvements that have become available to SL builders in the intervening 15 years since! In fact, I happened to come across some pictures of the original sim, and to be brutally honest, it was better built back then, in prehistoric SL, than the inexpertly cobbled-together collection of flat prims and textures I explored recently.

What was abundantly clear was that here we have an enthusiastic ‘can do’ person who lacked the requisite, or indeed any, skills to realise their aspirations. Nevertheless, despite their complete absence of builders’ credentials, they’ve gone ahead and attempted to build it anyway, with predictably crappy results, although I imagine that they’re absolutely thrilled with the end product and are completely oblivious to the fact that it sucks.

That’s just one example, I’m sure you’ve come across many similar locations inworld too and wondered ‘what on earth were they thinking?’

I’m not sure if it’s a symptom of the modern age, where everyone with a mobile phone is a photographer, anyone capable of typing is a blogger, and all you have to do is watch a Youtube video to become an expert plumber/gynaecologist (much the same thing); or whether it’s the mark of an ever-entitled generation who imagine that just because their best friend and mum say they can sing, all they have to do is appear on a TV talent show and be assured of becoming the next superstar sensation. Maybe it’s time for a few home truths to be stated and for people to be told that just because they think they can do something, it doesn’t mean that they should do it!

I find that profiles are often a dead giveaway for those possessing dubious ‘skills’. Any time I read a profile that states someone is a DJ, musician, or singer with a repertoire that runs the full range from country & western to grand opera, I inwardly groan – never, I’m afraid, has the expression ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ been more acutely apparent than inworld, and yet these people appear to be utterly confident in their abilitities, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and so they persist in inflicting their offerings upon the virtual world in general and littering the Grid with the detritus of wistful dreamings and garbage that will never attain their potential. They are offerings on a par with the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation’s Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser, which tasked with producing a refreshing breakfast beverage, manages to only come up with ‘something that tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike, tea’.

The acid test of capability, for me, is not that your Auntie Beryl thinks you’re amazing, but how others – without a vested interest in your success – perceive you and your creations, and that holds true in SL too. If your friends like what you’ve made, played or imagined, that in itself is no guarantee it’s any good – it’s equally likely that they’re just being nice, or are after freebies. If random people show their appreciation, particularly if they’re prepared to part with hard cash, or put their appreciation in writing, then you’re probably onto a good thing. When complete strangers approach you out of the blue and want to book you or commission you because they like what they’ve seen, there’s a strong chance that you’re pretty good at what you’re doing. And, at the end of the day, if your diary is full and the lindens are rolling in, then that’s a pretty good sign you’re a success.

On the other hand, if none of the above is true, then you’re probably not as good as you think you are, and you may need to reconsider what you’ve written in your profile about what a great builder, DJ, singer, dancer, fashion model, sex worker, or wherever else you may think your forte may lie… Because, it almost certainly doesn’t.

One thing that SL has taught me over the years is that many of the things you can apparently do with ease inworld, are not quite as simple as they first appear. Just as in real life, to do something well takes time, investment, effort, learning and perseverance – if that wasn’t the case, we’d all be making a comfortable living from SL, every one of us a land baron, successful entrepeneur and expert builder, texure creator, designer, couturier and so on. We’re patently not, but there are those amongst us who sincerely think that they are, when in fact, the opposite is true.

It’s not quite that simple though, and herein lies a dilemma for me. SL allows anyone and everyone to explore their virtual lives in whatever way they wish, and unlike reality, there is absolutely no reason at all for them to shine, excel or do well. As long as you’re having fun, why shouldn’t you build, create, play or whatever, even if it is complete rubbish? Maybe it won’t be pretty, and maybe it will jar the senses, but if it floats your boat, then who am I, or anyone else, to judge? And, you never know, having that freedom to express yourself and start small, may one day produce sheer brilliance – there’s no reason why not.

Then again, you may always stay crap! But, I’d take crap and happy over brilliant and miserable any day!

s. x

You’re no good
Baby, you’re no good
I’m gonna say it again
You’re no good

Van Halen – You’re No Good

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2 Responses to Could do better

  1. Moon Inworld says:

    The irony is that people who are actually brilliant tend to underestimate themselves, whereas people who are completely untalented think of themselves as the best.

    • You’re probably right!

      Those who irritate me are the ones who think they can become expert at something without putting in the hours and hard work that the real experts have invested in. Buying a mod item off Marketplace, and slapping on a couple of textures, does not put one on a par with someone who has spent years developing their building skills to produce quality, unique content. Neither does ripping a playlist from a website put one on the same level as a DJ who has crafted a collection of carefully-considered music, from a personal passion. Yet, these are often the very same people who ragequit when their offerings aren’t appreciated!

      Anyway, on a happier note… Congratulations! You have just become my 1000th comment!

      s. x

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