Okay, this is only going to make sense to me, I know - but hey, I'm in a really good mood (thanks nox!), so I'm going to indulge myself..... :)
Yesterday I logged on to discover I had a new neighbor, one who's bought up three of the huge parcels around me, and put in a house that for some reason just horrified me.
Here's my place, by comparison. It was my first build, and primitive - but I think you'll see the difference in motivations and approach to the world:
nox and I talked a bit about why: it's not just the incongruity of something so utterly unimaginiative and atomic-world in SL. At least to my twisted mind, it's a sign of something much more sinister. It's architectural griefing.
The brilliant and OH!MY!GODDESS!GORGEOUS!!!! London Spengler of Pandora's Box Blog suggests that griefers disrespect the integrity of Second Life and the people in it, seeing the world as "a game" and us as just cartoons on a screen. The first time I got harassed in world, I caught a lot of shit from a guy for being upset by it. "It's only a game," was his reply when I asked if he would loom over a woman leering at them on an atomic-world beach, or mouth off at me in an atomic-world bar.
"It's only a game."
And what is it straight white men say when you call them on homophobic, racist, misygynistic remarks? "It's only a joke, honey, don't get your panties in a twist."
If it's a game, a joke - I have no responsibility to you. I don't have to accord you dignity, treat you as a fellow human being. The Golden Rule doesn't apply.
Treating SL like a game is griefing. It refuses to acknowledge that we are *real.* A friend of mine was sexually assaulted in world, and deeply traumatized. We've all been harassed. Why? For the same reason people commit hate crimes in the atomic world - a refusal to acknowledge the Other as human.
But.... I think treating SL like the atomic world is a kind of griefing too. Building some Newport Beach condo, or a mall that looks like, well, a mall - is forcing the atomic world into a place it's not meant to fit. It's a little rape of our world's autonomy, selfhood, uniqueness.
Treating us - whether we call ourselves Digital Persons, Artificial Persons, whatever, or just any of the people in our world - as masks for an atomic world person - well, that's exactly the same kind of thing. It's griefing, it's a profound violation of our selfhood in our world.
London discussed the fascinating phenomenon of SL lesbian relationships here, and said the utterly sensible thing: it's presentation and mind that matter for attraction, nothing else. In another post, by contrast, she linked to a rant by a woman who said that "our avis are us," and was outraged to discover that her wife "was a MAN." Umm, nevermind that the blogger was a neko - I have to wonder if *her* wife was outraged to discover that she "was a HUMAN!"
Here's a picture of me from this morning:
That's me, Sophrosyne Stenvaag. Look at me, and read the things about myself coded into me:
- I'm a woman.
- I'm tall, solidly built, but gone kinda soft.
- I'm physically whole and healthy.
- I'm in my late 20s or thereabouts.
- I'm blue-skinned, but my features are Caucasian.
- I'm provocatively dressed.
- I've got metal wings.
What does that photo say about the wetware that my consciousness is stored in (till I can figure out how to get it out and uploaded onto a server)? Right, nothing. Maybe the atomic body looks just like that - though, probably not blue. Maybe it's older, or younger, or fatter, or with hair in funny places. Maybe it's male. Maybe it's damaged, feeble, incomplete. Maybe it's got African DNA, or Asian. So what? You're not going to meet the wetware, and it's about as important to knowing *me* as knowing what the color of my computer case is.
What does that photo say about the Other Personality I share space with? Right again, nothing. Does it code to the wetware more closely than I do? Less? Who cares - you're not going to meet the Other Personality either.
What lies behind building a SoCal condo in SL, behind SL sexual harrassment, behind gender paraonia? The thought that if SL is real, if we are real, autonomous people in this world, then my notion of myself as fixed, constant, atomic - shatters, and I'm gone.
But what have we done, my loves and friends? We've happily discarded that rigid self and embraced abstract avatars (isn't that gorgeous?) (my new lj friend
And what have we found? Love, joy, growth.
I wish I thought this post could make a difference, that someone might read it and change their perspective on us and our world. But I think this is one of those "you get it or you don't" things, and my neighbor will never, ever live in an Escher skybox or engage in race or gender play.
Like many, I fear it's going to get worse, particularly with voice. More people will come in who treat our world as a game, or a commercial, or a boardroom - and who will treat us like toys, consumers, employees.
But we don't have to live that way. We can fashion our bodies to match our souls, or play with bodies that don't match at all. We can use the possibilities of the world to design beautiful structures that could never exist in the atomic world. We can love, and play, and explore, in ways we never imagined.
That's what being Digital means to me....