Integrity is not a 4-Letter Word

August 28, 2007 at 3:50 am (dishonesty, Integrity, Relationships, Second Life, Sex)

Is it me or do some people who step into Second Life abandon their scruples at login? I’m not just talking about the newbs who wander aimlessly, pathetically begging for sex or the uber villains in Waterhead who act out their demonic fantasies through their pixel weapons. I’m talking about real people, like you and me, who seem to lose their marbles when they embody their avatar selves.

I’ve seen first hand the most upstanding individuals in RL–parents, professionals, religious devotees, and other self-proclaimed citizens with deep moral fiber–act in manners unbecoming of even the lowest of low. From lying about their RL age and physique, to blatantly spreading sim rumors, lies, and trash talk, Second Life at times seems full of more drama queens than a sorority during rush.

So what’s behind this phenomenon? Why is it that the anonymity of a virtual world seems to inspire even the meekest folks to don a cloak of perceived power which apparently gives them full license to manipulate others and act as dishonorably as an architect in the Bush administration?

Forgive me for seeming naive, but I prefer to believe these composers of commotion don’t set out to purposely harm others in their midst. On the contrary, I think what possibly happens is a deep and severe instance of miscommunication–complete with spoken and unspoken expectations and assumptions–spirals out of control. Others are then pulled in, truth is stretched, and low-and-behold you soon have a full-fledged soap opera. And, unlike real life, where kludgy communications like these may evolve over a period of several days, the nature of the grid somehow alights the drama-chain like a brush fire in southern California.

I think what’s more important than the emergence of the unfortunate but inevitable drama in SL is the way in which the person deals with it once it’s happened. I once had a boss tell me after I had totally screwed up that it wasn’t what you do in life, but what you do next. Everyone can have a miscommunication, but it takes a person with real integrity to admit fault, apologize and work to fix it.

What I’ve seen in SL is that, just like RL, there are people who are evolved and there are people who remain immature. Folks who are generally self-aware in RL tend to extend that skill into their SL experience and either let the drama roll off their backs or take steps to minimize the damage when it does happen. And, unfortunately, there remain individuals who continue to claim they are victims of some grid-wide conspiracy, never once looking in the mirror to find any culpability.

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2 Comments

  1. AA said,

    “I once had a boss tell me after I had totally screwed up that it wasn’t what you do in life, but what you do next.”

    This is perhaps your most important statement, at least in my eyes. Having been through this personally the hardest part was watching what happened next. I have seen people not willing or wanting to fix things but rather to perpeuate it as if the pain was the pleasure. Or in return for pain inflicted more pain must be passed on.

  2. Joonie Jatho said,

    Great blog post, Cindy.

    There is no way to know what is actually going on in the heart and mind of other people. Yes, actions speak louder than words, but to assume we know the motives behind an action is wishful thinking.

    I have experienced drama in SL as I am sure you are aware. It was not fun. And in hindsight, I can see where some of my actions may have perpetuated it. For that, I am genuinely sorry. But that was not my intent.

    For me, walking away from that scene and the people, was the best thing I have done for my SL.

    As far as telling RL information, I must differ with you. I do not feel an obligation to tell my RL status, whether it be sex, age, or availability as I am not looking for a RL partner n SL. The beauty of SL is meeting different people for all over the world and becoming friends because we connect, not because they fit a certain paradigm. But that’s just me. 🙂

    Wish you both much peace,

    JJ

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