~~~RANT ALERT If you don't like it when I cuss, skip this one. The vocabulary got out of control.
Some poor schmuck recently did yet another one of those shallow, whiny blog posts about "I went to Second Life and I couldn't figure it out and it was full of strange pervy folks and it's dying because it's not (choose one):
c. World of Warcraft
d. all of the above
I didn't feel the need to comment there on the actual post, because plenty of other intelligent folks dog-piled on the feckless turd, pointing out that he had not done enough actual exploration of SL to comment on anything other than his own brief experience, and that his comparisons between SL and the most broadly used social media applications are an apples and oranges thing. I was quite pleased to see our friends Fogwoman Grey and Emilly Orr, among others, pretty much make the author their bitch.
And I'm not really going to bother with commenting on his post here either, except to get one thing off my chest. I was really, really, really fucking irritated by the one-panel cartoon the author (or someone) selected to go with his text. It showed this geeky looking clodpoll sitting at a computer while some bitch (his mom? his wife? his dad dressed in drag?) says with a sneering expression:
"Second Life? Please, you don't even have a FIRST life."
First of all, it pissed me off because it had nothing to do with what the author was writing about. I hate lazy assholes, and it was obvious that some lazy asshole had put the cartoon there just because The Idiot's Guide to Blogging says "to succeed as a blogger you have to keep your posts short because your readers are spit-dribbling retards, and you also must have an illustration because they are visually-oriented spit-dribbling retards as well...so go ahead, stick some kind of a picture in there even if it has little or nothing to do with your subject matter."
It would have been so easy for this dumb, cockchafing lackwit to take a fuckin' screenshot while he was in SL (unless of course, he was too goddam dirt-eating stupid to figure out how to take a screenshot). Then at least his illustration would have had something to do with what he was writing about.
But noooooooo...he got this half-assed cartoon from somewhere and plugged it in.
So that was one thing that irritated me. Now on to the other:
The subject matter of the cartoon was the same old, tired, feeble arrogance about people who spend lots of times on their computers--not just in Second Life, but in any virtual context--needing to "get a life."
Ok, boys and girls, here's the fucking deal:
There is no difference between so-called "first life" and the unfortunately named Second Life.
If you are doing something...whatever you are doing and whatever context you do it in: it is life.
Do you enjoy it? Does it help you pass the time when you are not doing shit that someone else is making you do? Then it is valid. No one, and that means NO ONE has the right to tell you that you need to "get a life" or that you "have no life."
Why is it that so many people look at what someone else is doing, and if it is not what they would be doing with their free time, they think that it ain't valid or worthwhile? That is just plain and simple, utter cocktwaddle. Hey, I don't like football. But if you like to play football every chance you get, or you like to watch the sport on TV every goddam weekend, then that is just fucking awesome as far as I am concerned. The fact that I don't give a rat's tookus about football doesn't mean that you guys who like the game and care about it passionately need to cut it the fuck out and "get a life."
Everybody needs something to do...to add something to their lives other than merely existing. Even early Paleolithic people who lived in caves and dressed in furs, and who scrabbled just to survive from day to day...they drew cool pictures on the rocks, invented a calendar of sorts, and probably danced and sang, and more than likely laughed when someone farted.
It doesn't matter what you choose to do beyond just surviving--whether it is playing canasta, ballroom dancing, going to Nascar races, watching old movies, gardening, reenacting Civil War battles, refinishing furniture, brewing your own beer, fixing old trucks, rescuing abandoned cats, writing poetry, feeding slot machines at an Indian casino, singing in the goddam church choir, playing video games, or making stuff and fartin' around with your friends in Second Life...it's valid, it's worthwhile...and it's life. It's part of what makes you a human being.
I was thinking about this issue even before I saw the dumb-ass cartoon. This time of year is always hard on many Second Lifers. You're visiting the relatives and someone asks about that online thing you're doing, and you have to try to explain Second Life to them...and they kind of smile, while their eyes regard you with this mixture of pity, contempt and confusion. And maybe even fear.
Well fuck them. Either people get it or they don't, and if they don't, then they at least should respect what you do.
They may say, "oh but you spend so much time doing it! You're in front of that computer for hours!"
Yeah? So what?
Look--unless something is completely passive, or dumbed down to the most basic level so that even a retarded penguin with the reading comprehension abilities of Glenn Beck can master it--anything we choose to do is going to take a lot of time and practice and effort if we want to get good at it.
You want to play an instrument or a sport? Then you gotta practice--you have to put a lot of time into it.
Fix cars? You gotta sink a lot of time into gettin' greasy and laying underneath big chunks of metal with rust flakes falling in your eyes.
You wanna paint pretty pictures? Then you gotta take classes and practice and keep painting, over and over.
You want to do well at video games? You gotta put in your hours with the controller and get those finger callouses.
Likewise, if you want to get good at doing stuff in Second Life: it's just like all those other things--it's going to take a lot of time. You have to put in the hours, maybe take some classes, do a lot of experimenting, and keep working at it.
That's all there is to it.
Like many things in life, it takes time and effort and practice to get good at SL, to really maximize what you get out it.
Which does kind of bring us to the question about the advisability of re-working SL so that it can accommodate the mega-masses. To survive and flourish, do the Lindens need to make SL so that anyone can come in and there will be things planned out for them to do, and that getting started is simple, with outfits and avatars that can be easily made up, and a house that is easily put in place, and they won't be bothered about making stuff and all that?
Guess what...that platform already existed.
It was called The Sims Online.
And it did work...for a while.
Hey...skiing is generally regarded as a successful past time, right? Lots of people enjoy doing it and lots of businesses make good money off it. But you can't just run up and start doing it without the right equipment, some lessons, some practice, etc. etc. It's not for everyone, and you can't just jump on the slope and instantly do it perfectly, right? Yeah, you can get started, but you won't be able to do it as well as you can after you been doing it for a while.
So why should SL be different from that?
Not everything in life has to be easy for everyone.
But I digress.
My main point is that these arrogant morons need to stop sniveling about Second Lifers needing to get a life. Like this cartoon--it's good for a cheap laugh from people who know nothing about the platform--but it just oozes a smarmy ignorance that is unconscionable. Just remember bucko, whatever you are doing, there is someone else somewhere who will look at what you do and say "you have no life," Mr. cartoonist guy.
And when they do, you have every right to tell them to go crap in their hat and pull it down over their ears and bark at the moon. But then don't turn around and tell me that what I'm doing in Second Life is somehow less valid than what you're doing in your spare time on your blog or video games, or in your garden or in your bathroom. Cuz after all, you have a hat too, and I am about to tell you what you can do with it.