To preface anything I say: I, though I have walked the streets of Babbage (and found them lovely) and gone both to town meetings and social events, have not made Babbage the center of any of my experiences, by and large. I met Madcow Cosmos for the first time in New Babbage; I met Elda Luna for the first time in New Babbage; I discovered what an Air Kraken was the day Oolon Sputnik took Elda, Edward Pearse and I through his Etheric Transport Cabinet for the first time.
These are memories I cherish, and I still love the look, the layout, of New Babbage. But I freely admit, Caledon called harder, and I moved closer to Caledon as the days turned into weeks turned into years.
But, this doesn't mean it doesn't sadden me to see the same tragedy befall Babbage as befell Caledon--or at least, once befell Caledon, before Miss Kandace Commons, with the thanks of a grateful nation-state, left Caledon in a flurry of bile, curse words and poisoned shards of spite.
To wit, in this post from Babbage's forums, entitled Farewell New Babbage, posted by a rather well-known Urchin-about-town, Mr. Django Yifu asks--and considering the tone of some of the posts I've been reading through, he asks in an extremely gentle fashion--"How peaceful was Babbage before the return of Miss Commons?" in and amongst his other points.
Miss Commons' reply to this was just as full of spite and bitterness as I've come to expect from every other dealing I've had with her:
"This was brought up in previous threads before, but what I find sickening is that 'as a Nation State,' we seem to have an inability to dissent without being labeled as 'uncivil.' Pfft. Very very little has been said by anyone in the massive amounts of posts that have been generated that could rightly be labeled as uncivil. I'm sorry that you find it so incredibly offensive that people might explore and investigate topics and candidates who are vying for control over New Babbage, but so be it. As Mr. Merryman pointed out, the populace of New Babbage have an impressive ability to ignore rational argument in favor of complaining about the 'tone' or 'intent' of a post without nary a care for its CONTENT. Yes, I called someone a liar, with clear evidence that they did in fact lie. That's considered uncivil? Pardon me, I consider lying to be uncivil. I'm the one causing trouble by pointing it out? So be it. If a candidate who's attempting to become our new fearless leader is a demonstrated liar, I think that is important for everyone to know, so I put it out there."
So, let's see, more or less in order, these seem to be Miss Commons' main points. Do accept that I am broadly paraphrasing things:
* 'No one's saying anything less than respectful, what's your problem?'
* 'You people don't care what anyone says, as long as it sounds polite, so I'll just say what I need to say because truth is more important than phrasing!'
* 'Baron Wulfenbach is a big liar-head and he's always going to be a big liar-head and I've proven that so nyaah.'
You can see where I might have a problem with this.
But it doesn't stop there. Miss Trafalgar begs Miss Commons' indulgence, in not turning every forum post into a whinefest; Doctor Obolensky tells her to back it down because she's only contributing to the problem; a fellow Urchin, DreddPirate Bob, feels deep dismay for even mentioning the election to Mr. Yifu, as now Yifu is fully sick of the whole thing and of Babbage entire; and Miss Franizzi outright asks Miss Commons to stop.
Does she listen? Does she even reflect once on the impact of her words and consider moderating her behavior? Apparently not:
"ME stop? No offense, but that's bullshit. This was a clear personal attack aimed at me for no reason. Hypocritical, truly."
I have to laud Doctor Obolensky for this next reply:
Even if it *was* a personal attack, it was about the mildest one I have seen. When you post, just take a brief moment to ask "Am I making this worse?".
Because you are, really. I don't really know if you intend it or not, but you take the slightest spark, and throw gasoline on it with the way you phrase things, and the words you use.
A solution to a problem rarely involves attacking a symptom with a sledgehammer."
Wiser words, in debates like this, might never have been spoken. And I tell you this knowing full well what I have said, in Caledon, and the last little contretemps I found myself in. And what did I do? Backed the hell off. I keep myself away from chat most of the time; if I get concerned about something, I always now stop, and ask--"Would responding to this harm Caledon seriously?" And if the answer even verges on a 'yes', and I can see no other reason to interact at that point but retaliation, I do not post.
How hard is that, truly?
Apparently, far too difficult for Miss Commons to grasp:
"There is nothing offensive about my posting, only the apparent need of certain residents in New Babbage to assume hostile intent. Contrary to what you seem to imply, it's not me against 'the rest of the internet.' There are actually rational people who grok what's being said. For the rest.... they can put on their big girl panties and deal with it, or leave."
Now, in all fairness, I must add something else before I finish this, namely, the words of Miss Kamloops, who claims Miss Commons as a close personal friend:
"As someone who knows Kandace in real life, and has known her for many years prior to me joining SL (2005), it upsets me to see people constantly attacking her for 'just wanting to hurt Babbage' or 'causing drama'. She has undoubtedly been tactless and hurtful to many residents and especially Shaun since being ousted, but this was entirely in response to BEING ousted for unjust reasons [ ... ]It has nothing to do with wanting to start drama; she really does care about the outcome. I don't say this because I am standing up for Kandace. I say this because I think many people don't understand her and take what she says in a way that differs from her intent in posting. In conclusion, she is tactless and blunt, always has been and always will be, but she does care for Babbage immensely and does want it to succeed."
I am not Miss Commons' friend. After she exploded for the first time--over security orbs in another sovereign nation, of all ridiculous things--in Caledon chat, and upended everything into a mire where the cursing spewing from her lips could have blistered lead paint at five paces, and easily two-thirds of Caledon promptly closed the window when she spoke--and we all could see exactly who left, as that was the time on the grid where every group window opening was followed by a running count of who joined and who left--I will never be anything less than overwhelmingly critical of her, without any additional forays into attacks on those with whom I am friends. Just her alone, I do not like, I will not like, that's plain and I'm uncompromising in this.
But for whatever reason, I have been where she is. I have perceived an issue so great that I was willing to cast aside decorum to breach the walls of silence, and make my voice be heard. I was willing to fly in the face of convention to save something I loved, something I thought then was truly at risk. I have railed against the darkening of the light, and mourned that my words were not heeded.
But nearly all of you know what happened after that. I listened. I grew up. I moved on. I accepted that wrong action, even for right reasons, remains wrong action. One of the guiding precepts of my life, here or elsewhere, is that beginnings must be clean, if endings are to be clean. I did not begin with clean hands; therefore, the entire process was tainted.
I know this now. And that is exactly what is infuriating me from a distance: Miss Commons seems doggedly determined to keep shouting her supposed 'truth' from the greatest height, into a megaphone, while carpet-bombing Babbage residents with biting sarcasm and bitter venom. And she doesn't see it.
Right now, almost all vocal residents of New Babbage just want the whole process to be over already. It has turned uglier than even Miss Commons' once-infamous wrangling with Winterfell in CalChat; it has made several residents of New Babbage leave New Babbage, establishing homes temporarily--or perhaps not so temporarily--in other sims, and--at least in the case of Yifu, and I know this well, if there's one, there are others--inspired more to leave the entire grid.
And she doesn't see this.
Even someone claiming to know her well calls her tactless, blunt and hurtful.
I know the life of a sledgehammer. I know its mental weight in my hand, the effort it takes to swing at objects at a remove from myself; I know how much power it takes to keep it moving forward until it strikes its target and the target shatters from the force of the blow. I know how often there is peripheral damage, shrapnel shards sunk into innocent flesh, feelings and hearts hurt and bleeding from what my hammer has done.
I am trying to be better. I am trying to choose my words with care. I am trying to know that if I engage in argument, in the fostering of drama, that I am part of what holds things back from escalating to lethal levels. I am trying to listen more than I speak, and speak carefully when I do.
The sledgehammer has no conscience. The sledgehammer swings, and it will strike whatever is in its path as it swings for the target. Ideals, philosophy, young thoughts, old feelings, all are crushed in an instant. The sledgehammer doesn't care.
I care. I hope to all my gods Miss Commons does too. But once we reach the point where people see our names and log off, rather than face what we might do, what we might say--we have lost the battle. No amount of shrieking into her megaphone, insinuating the concepts of so-called 'rational' discussion while she proves by her very wording her argument is anything but rational...no amount of ground gained in these pitched pit battles will equal the amount of ground she has lost.
Believe me, I know. At this point Doctor Obolensky is right--she is making the problem worse, and she needs to stop. She needs, more than anything else, to choose her words with great care. She needs to stop putting out fires with gasoline.
Because a New Babbage turned over to the winner of the elections, that turns out to be empty? Serves no one. And that really seems to be what things are pushing towards unless something changes.