It starts in Real Life, where I happened to be dining with a couple dozen folks, and by chance I was sitting across from an older fellow. As with many of his age, his viewpoints on most things were very traditional. But he was also quite outspoken and freely told everyone his thoughts.
Meanwhile, I am a very open and tolerant person, and have been my entire RL. I believe others should be able to believe what they wish, so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.
During the course of the evening, the older fellow began saying things that increasingly bothered me. Things like: which cars were "definitely" the best; that he knew better than the authorities; that certain lifestyles were “not normal”, and immediately discounting any views different from his own. Some of the things he said, I am quite certain, would have caused some readers of this blog to leap across the table and physically engage him.
I’ve encountered this type of person before, and usually I just write them off as uninformed and intolerant and then ignore them. They are free to believe what they wish, and I ignored him. But there was something different about this encounter. It just bothered me, much more than previous incidents.
But why did it bother me more this time? My theory is where the tale ends: Second Life.
In SL one is constantly exposed to the amazing, the fantastic, the creepy, the unusual and rarely, the traditional. I believe that after almost three years of virtual life seeing anything and everything, and realizing that everyone is indeed a real person with real thoughts and feelings, regardless of what they think, what they do and especially what they look like, my level of tolerance has grown significantly. I’m hypertolerant.
And then I encounter this guy at dinner. And I’m shocked. Shocked at his level of intolerance, because it is now so terribly far away from my new level of tolerance.
Some say Second Life is good for education, to make money, to collaborate or to create. Maybe there’s something else.
Something... necessary. And that’s more tolerance.