ArminasX Gets Upset

Sunday, October 4, 2009 Sunday, October 04, 2009

This is a tale of Real Life, but it’s also a tale of Second Life.

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.


Caliburn Susanto said...

BRAVO! Damnitalltohell, I wish *I* had written that. It's occurred to me many times and is part of the reason I insist on Avatarism online.

The pseudonymity of digital existence is a great leveler of the playing field and an enforcer of paying attention to who someone really IS as opposed to who you have decided they are because of their sex, age, appearance, disability, or any of the many other superficial reasons to classify and dismiss.

I agree with you 1000% !!

Raul Crimson said...

I know you enough to know how tolerant you are, but i agree with you all has a limit.

Against intolerance... tolerance zero! Specially in SL. When i came the first time i was all excited to find a better new world, and in some people i found the worse of the old world.

Actually i think there is something that is better than tolerance and i see sometimes a total lack of it, and that's respect.

Thanks, my friend, for writing this!

Peter Stindberg said...

I was at a business presentation a few weeks ago, and the boss of the company I visited (I tried to sell them something) started a political debate. The mayor of the town they have their offices in is gay, and he started to say some pretty bad things about the mayor and his sexual orientation.

I said nothing, swallowed my comments and replies because I wanted to get that sale. In fact I needed that sale dearly for my own job safety.

I am still ashamed I did not reply anything.

Ari Blackthorne™ said...

This is basically what I was eluding to as I tried to explain how I felt Second Life desensitizes us.


The difference is in the desensitization, I suppose our minds open-up more and we become more "tolerant" of others' views.


Anonymous said...

What you're describing is fundamental dualistic thinking, these people cannot handle any questions without setting up a comparison that judges something as US or THEM (good / bad, worthy / unworthy). It's not merely a matter of tolerance, it's a lack of courage in dealing with mystery. SL is definitely full of mystery!

Moggs Oceanlane said...

Gah. I sometimes bite my tongue but other times can't help but speak out.

I think sometimes it is what we say... sometimes it is how we say it and other times it's a bit of both.

I had a cab driver last year who started going on about gay people and how he had in the past stopped his cab and made them get out.

I advised that I had friends and family who were gay and while I respected his right to believe what he chose I didn't agree - seeing love generally as a good thing.

He then said... "Hitler killed gays". My mind boggled that he used this as a justification - I commented that I didn't see that as an arguement, reiterated that I cared for a number of people who were gay and asked to drop the subject (fully expecting him to stop the cab and make me get out but he didn't).

When I finally got to my destination, he said, "think about what I said". And I responded with, "and you think about what I said".

I often think about freedom of speech and exactly what it means. I don't believe it means the right to say whatever you want without any thought of consequence. To quote (in essence, if not totally within context) Laurence Oliver from the Theme to Time, "your words carry with them chain reactions, creating ripples [...]".

I went to a great lecture recently by a woman on the subject and scribbed down a wonderful sentence she wrote but it's wee hours of the morning and I can't find my notebook so I'll have to dig it up and share it with you later.

I believe that the virtual world is devoid of intolerance - but I do agree the fact you don't have to share your actual age, gender, sexuality, social or financial standing does level the field as Caliburn says.

I find it interesting (and somewhat annoying) the number of people who when meeting you ask 'where are you from?' and 'how old are you?'.

The fact may of us do get to know many people without requesting or knowing their vital statistics and because of the diversity of those people, we do perhaps get a few more lessons in tolerance than the general public.

Sometimes I wonder - do we cope and accept this environment because we were already reasonably tolerant to start with?

I'm with the wise and wonderful Raul - I think respect and [un]common decency are most important. You don't have to like or agree with someone to show them respect. You can even disagree with them - without causing too many ripples even.

**Theme to Time (for those not familiar)

Zippora Zabelin said...

That's a truly interesting observation. I've been raised quite tolerant, but have noticed that SL has stretched my limits even further indeed. Good post!

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