Sunday, January 25, 2009

do you care what I believe, or that I wear a heart upon my sleeve

I don't know if I want to be the one who states that the degradation of personal manners in Caledon is spreading; perhaps it's part and parcel of new people finding out about Second Life as a whole, who have no concept of comportment, personal responsibility, and what not to say in public.

To wit, the recent banning from Steelhead of a woman who described sexual acts in graphic detail on the public chat, and then demanded residents lick her feet.

Aberrant behavior? I would definitely agree. Singular? No, and this is where I venture briefly into the former waters of propriety and discipline: because this has happened before, and obviously, by this incident, it will happen again.

Perhaps a refresher course on netiquette is needed, more than anything else.

First, remember, we're all in this together. Second Life draws in people from everywhere, all levels of experience, education, interest and intelligence. This means strong friendships can form with people one would never otherwise encounter; but by the same extension, if we are not physically there (gathering at a dance, a discussion group, a poetry reading, for tea), there's not the same sense of contact. It's easier to be rude; easier to get (and stay) upset; easier to dismiss the words read as only words.

Very few people are exempt from this disconnection, and believe me, I am not leaving myself out. I have fallen prey to it just as often; it's common, it happens.

This also goes double for the additional point of choosing one's words with great care. This does not mean don't have fun, don't jest, don't play--but remember, all we have to go on are our words. If those words are easily understood and arranged in such a way to create what we intend to send with them: wonderful. If they are read by the other person as an accusatory mass of vitriol, or are viewed by someone else, as shockingly obscene, then there is definitely something wrong with those word choices. Think before you type is an excellent guideline.

For good or ill, we will be judged on the quality of our writing. Online, our words are our blood and bone, our muscle, our structure. Existing purely on net abbreviations, misspelled words, shorthand and other net conventions is somewhat akin to showing up in public with pieces missing. Also remember: for the most part, if people we interact with didn't enjoy reading and the written word, they wouldn't be there--but also, for some reason, Second Life (and the net in general) attract many non-readers who then confuse others greatly. Try to be clear when speaking; it will minimize confusion all around.

More than that, we're back to choosing our words with care, but in the arena of proper grammar, spelling and the like, it goes even farther. Even those gentles who may not spell well, who may send out lower-case phrases and sentence fragments (I am not immune to this myself) should know there's a vast difference between not spelling well, and not bothering. An example:

ok i get it


o i c

The first fragment is all lower-case, there are abbreviations, there is no punctuation--but it's clear, it's concise, it's understandable. The bottom fragment demonstrates one is unlettered completely as well as profoundly uncaring to improve.

Typos? Misspellings we didn't catch? Wrong window syndrome? We've all done it; people like CoyoteAngel Dimsum make it a running joke (which, on occasion, still makes me giggle like a five-year-old). But no one is immune; it happens.

There is still a difference between that, or genuinely not being able to spell (dyslexia, for example, which makes reading, writing and typing a challenge), and not caring how one spells, because "it's no big deal" or "everyone spells like this". Believe me, "everyone" does not spell like this; and nearly everyone appreciates some effort being made on trying to communicate, over indifference in all communication.

Bob Crispin once said, Treat every post as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy. While that mostly--and justifiably--applies to email, it's good to keep in mind while speaking in world. If every word we say, we know is echoed to our employers, our counselors, and those who wish us would we phrase things? Would we rephrase them? Would we self-censor, or accept all our words as valid for that moment?

I'm not trying to encourage anyone to stop talking; everyone has that right. Just to keep in mind that what we say may not be understood how we mean it; and that we are, not always, speaking to the most favorable audience.

I am who I am; even with consideration of what I type, at times I deliberately choose inflammatory modes of speaking. Sometimes this is done for effect; sometimes I am simply consumed by hurt and outrage and, in that moment, I type what occurs to me. On reflection, these are not always my shining moments. I admit this; I accept this.

We are who we are; fair and flawed, bright and dark. All we can do, in the end, is try to do better. Nothing stops us from doing better, after all, but ourselves. We are our greatest challenge; we do more to get (and stay) in our own way than anyone we may meet.

When will there be more Strindberg & Helium? I miss them.


Darien Mason said...

Wow...I want details. And a stopwatch from offense to bannination!

Emilly Orr said...

I have some of them, but I was deliberately leaving out her name. Much as I'm tempted to use it.

But I'll ask my sources, see if we can get a first-line-to-out-the-door reference.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Regarding the explicit chat, my in-character comment is: Oh my. My out-of-character comment is: Oh my!

Regarding efforts to communicate clearly: whether in chat or in person, there will be misunderstandings. I've contributed to a fair number, and I've seen still more. It happens when people who don't know each other that well, but who are trying to be well-mannered and yet still enjoy themselves, fail to anticipate how a remark will be taken. There's an easy solution to misunderstandings: reverse course, apologize, clear things up, and move on. The problem comes when some people - and, honestly, it has to be a minuscule fraction of the people participating in or listening to chat - go out of their way to be offensive, or take the attitude that if others are offended, that's their problem.

The vast majority of people who participate in chat are unfailingly polite and helpful. One can quibble about the content of the discussions, or how risque a comment should be before it crosses the line, but they mean well.

Seraph Nephilim said...




Seraph Nephilim said...

Given this discussion, I do hope my previous comment will be taken in a humorous light. I completely agree with what you wrote. Certainly some forms of netspeak have their place, but it's all contextual. A civil, (neo)Victorian society is not one of them.

I had a chance encounter last night with a newcomer to Second Life and made some attempt to be friendly, despite his "u r looking good" form of speech, which made me wince inside. It feels like a far cry from my first days in world (3 years tomorrow!) when most every conversation I had was a pleasant one. And even the oddballs, such as Taco Rubio, obviously put efforts into being miscreants and curmudgeons who were still good to have as friends.

I can understand abbreviating words when one is texting on a phone keypad. Brevity is key in that environment. The failure is in the lack of understanding of the differences between environments. (That, and we're not all just in a sex chat room!)

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson: At this point, at least in Caledon, I would say the overwhelming majority of Caledonians don't participate in chat at all. Of those who do, I would say the number of folks acting out disproportionately outweighs folks who are unstintingly helpful and encouraging. Caledon might well swing back; I'm hoping this proves true.

Emilly Orr said...

Lady Seraph: *waves her cane of incomprehension*

Seriously, I'm fairly net-savvy, but I does not underestand those two. :)

I'm not even saying, being netizens and neo-Victorians both, there's not a place for shorthand--just about everyone understands "lol", "rofl", "ty", "yw"'s when they're used to the exclusion of other speech that I pull back and close the window.

Someone makes a joke in Caledon, 2007: there will be lols, there will be rofls, there will be hehehes...but there also will be a fair amount of "X laughs", "Y titters behind her fan", "Z rolls his eyes"--and I can't say that some nights, now.

And I freely admit, I'll close the chat window for contraction abuse faster than I will for content: I see more than six "lol" comments in a row, I'm off chat for at least an hour, if not the whole night.

So yes, if this makes me the cranky curmudgeonly ancient in the corner--bring it on. I have a rocking chair, and I'll just build a mobile lawn so I can be walking around and tell people to get off of it! :)

Seraph Nephilim said...

At least one I was not familiar with, but is apparently in at least some common use on LiveJournal in some communities. At least that is what I believe, given the source.

IAWTC = I Agree With This Comment

GDR I'm not sure of the source, but some form of early chat room, possibly. *Grinning, Ducking, Running*

Another one, but not one I find applies to your particular posts, no matter the length: tl;dr = Too Long; Didn't Read

Certainly in the past I did my best to avoid LOL, ROFL, etc., within Second Life. It's so easy to set up a gesture to expand an abbreviation (which would explain my penchant for chuckling *smiles*). I've slipped some recently, but am working on regaining a somewhat more literate form of elocution.

I would never consider you a cranky old curmudgeon; however, I do wish to see you with a portable lawn. That would be most amusing.

Capt. Red Llewellyn said...

textbonics is one of the things that most annoys me lately...sure, i don't use the shift typos are legendary, and i might squeal OMG! or LOL on occasion as much as i [smile wrly] or [laugh delightedly] but i know the difference between you're and your...if people start chatting with me in interest level just plummets. Gah!
it's evil! LOL [winks winks nods nods] see? no one is perfect but do try and use real English people!
~Capt. Red

Emilly Orr said...

Red: See, I get that. I use emotes, I use OMG on occasion, 'teh' to make a point, I fall into LOLcat way too often...but it doesn't stop me from being understood by other people.

I think that's my line in the sand. If what you are sending out cannot be casually understood by everyone else in the conversation, you are not communicating. Full stop, end of sentence.

Though I admit, it's generally not typos and lower-case that gets me. It's the people who really, deeply seem to believe that "u" and "r" are stand-alone words. It's that kind of mentality that makes me want to light people on fire.