Friday, November 27, 2009

On being thankful for things both inside and outside of Second Life

The Macy's flagship store at Herald Square in Manhattan.

Hamlet Au has put up an open-forum post asking his readers what SL people they are thankful for on this weekend that follows upon the heels of the American "Thanksgiving" holiday (also known in some circles as the "Feast of the Inordinate Consumption").

I felt compelled to put in my two-cents, which was as follows:

I'm thankful for:

- friends like Aldo Stern and Betty Doyle, because it IS a social medium after all, although not in the way that the marketing nabobs seem to think it is...

- all the folks in the rp communities I am part of, like Deadwood and Hogwarts United--just like rl families, it ain't always tidy, it ain't always pretty, but by God, it's good to have some place you feel like you belong...

- the contrarians and non-conformist voices like Prokofy Neva and Crap Mariner--yeah, they can be infuriating, annoying and oftentimes downright wrong, but sometimes someone has to look at things differently for the dialogue to have real meaning: if they didn't exist, we'd probably have to invent them...

- the Lindens who see the need to try to understand who their customers really are and what they want and need. I know there are those of us who argue that lack of such perspicacity is one of the things that frustrates us the most about the company, but you do periodically see evidence that there are some LL folks who actually freakin' get it...

- my good friends and fellow writers of rp-based serials (our odd-little sub-genre of metaverse fiction)--people like Rhianon Jameson and Headburro Antfarm, whom I can always count on to not only read my blog, but also actually comment on the silly thing...

- All the wacky and brilliant virtual library folks like JJ Drinkwater and Riven Homewood, who have have spent the last several years bringing to fruition their wonderful ideas about what the platform can do in terms of enabling widely dispersed people to share information, ideas, and stories...

- And finally, the funny folks at SecondLie...because, well...because damn it, they ARE awfully funny more often than not. Plus, if we can't still laugh about all this nonsense we're involved in, it's probably time to turn off the machine and go do something else for a while.


I also wanted to add that with the growing significance of Black Friday, I am hugely grateful I no longer work in retail as I did in the days of my largely misspent youth. This time of year I always think of the occasion about 8 years ago when I made the rash and pointless decision to visit the Macy's flagship store in NYC on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

As I was slowly shuffling along as part of a massive, unbroken swarm of grim shoppers trying to enter the store, all sandwiched together like CD's on a cheap shelving unit from Ikea, I observed a young-ish African American junior management-type dressed in a rather nice suit, standing by a door that was permanently jammed open and repetitively greeting the slowly moving line of customers with a droning refrain:

"Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's..."

I guessed he had been there a while. His voice was a weary monotone, repeating that same phrase, like a scratched and skipping LP.

As I finally got to the point where I was passing the young man, I listened to him continue his mantra, but with one slight adjustment in the middle:

"Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Hell. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's. Welcome to Macy's..."

I hope that poor guy is having a better weekend, wherever he is now. And I sincerely hope that all of you have a lovely weekend as well, wherever you are.



  1. And I am thankful for talented folks like you, who I am actually able to access from work and who make my day much brighter. Although the problem of roaring with laughter at something I would NEVER be able to explain is a bit of a pickle...

  2. Hey Fogwoman!

    Thank you for saying so, Hon--I sincerely appreciate the kind words. It does my heart an awful lot of good to hear that I am one of the people who can give you a smile or two. And hey, if you're laughing out loud for no apparent reason, not only does that make me happy, but it can be an advantage for you as your less enlightened co-workers will come to look on you as perhaps a bit "touched." This will cause them to be cautious around you and go to some lengths to not antagonize you or make your life difficult.

    Fear and uncertainty can be useful tools in the workplace. I know you will use this power wisely.

    In all seriousness, another thing I really enjoy and am thankful for is the way this technology enables me to engage and communicate with bright, thoughtful, witty individuals like yourself. Without it, we would never have had the chance to even know of each other's existence, and I think our lives are substantially enriched by this broadening of our social and intellectual horizons.

    And on an odd know, I have in past wondered if in the event you and I ever wound up communicating with each other, if you would prefer being addressed as "Fogwoman," or if just "Fog" would be ok. Or I guess I could just call you "Hon."

  3. "...sandwiched together like CDs on a cheap shelving unit..." I love that image!

    I was lucky enough not to work retail. I'm certainly incompatible with the Great Unwashed Masses out there, so that worked out well for everyone.

    What I don't understand about the Black Friday phenomenon is that most of the "deals" aren't deals, and much of what people are willing to stand in line for can be bought just as easily on-line. So add the Aetherwebs to the things for which I'm grateful.

  4. Funny you mention that Rhia, about the deals which are not deals. I was listening to an interview the other day with a retail strategist who said that they saw higher volume of sales when they created among the customers a perception that that something was in limited supply or hard to get.

    I think the Black Friday manipulation has that essential philosophy at it's heart: you tell people to "get there early! Don't be late or ALL THE GOOD DEALS WILL BE GONE!" And of course much of this crap really IS in short supply, and when it is, it is not unlikely that the limitation of supply was created by conscious choices made during the manufacturing or distribution phases.

    And even if it really is in limited supply none of this junk is anything you really need.

    I not only don't like crowds (especially since 9/11, I have a an astonishing level of discomfiture with large groups of people unless they are all wearing similarly colored outfits and moving in some kind of coordinated fashion)I don't like being manipulated.

    Some people I guess find the whole "competitive shopping" and comfort of "everyone else is doing it" to be fun. A long time ago, I did find thronged streets and jam-packed stores to be exciting and dynamic. Now I just find the surge of the crowd thing to be oppressive and less than human.

    And did I mention that I hate feeling like someone is trying to manipulate me?

  5. Ey up! Thanks matey! I'm damn glad we ran into each other across teh webz like we did cos if we hadn't I'd have missed a wise and funny friend, and who can say they don't need more of them? :-D

    As for crowds, pah! Hates them. I can't stand Lobdon for that very reason. At least here, some 300+ miles north of the Big Smoke, I can walk from one end of my wee town to the other in 20 mins and never feel like a sardine (except when it's Xmas shopping season... /me weeps)

  6. Yep. Seem to have hit a chord here that resonates with many of you. I sometimes wonder how different Christmas would feel if we took the shopping out of it--except maybe getting things for the kids, that's always fun. But for the rest of us, instead of stuff, maybe if we just did one extra act of kindness for one another.

    And a feast, with storytelling...and maybe singing. Singing is always nice.

    But back to the thing about friends--isn't it remarkable how the technology has so substantially changed how we make friends? It seems like it used to be that the main way you made friends was with people you went to school with or worked with or maybe neighbors...and it has changed who we can make friends with. For example, there is the fact that I have this friend who is some goofy guy from a wee town some 300+ miles north of London...

  7. This is relayed on behalf of Mr. JJ Drinkwater: "Why, thankee kindly, Miss Dio! When I look around me in SL I'm tickled pinker than a newborn polecat at all the culturificational exhibits, literarified discussions, and suchlike events that I see. If our libraries have done their little bit to promote such doin's, I'm well repaid for all my efforts."

  8. Thank you Nonesuch for relaying Mr. Drinkwater's message. Tho' I must confess a certain befuddlement as to why he elected to not convey the missive himself: I don't recall that he owes me any money, or that I had threatened him in any least not lately....

  9. 300 miles north of London? Who's he then? Sounds like a good egg if you ask me... ;-)