Thursday, June 25, 2009

swallowed up in the sound of my screaming, cannot cease for the fear of silent nights

Of course she is disappointed.

That it all came down to a battle over one word, and one man. That it didn't mean more than that to anyone involved. That no one seemed to see it for what it was, but her. That no one seemed to honestly understand, but her. This is not the first time this has happened. Though that is disappointing, too.

Of course she is disappointed.

That she now watches warily behind her eyes, wondering what next will go wrong. Wondering how long the tightrope walk continues, love to love, event to event, friend to friend, and some not so friendly. She wonders if she's placed her trust in the wrong people, and is further disappointed that this is not the first time that's happened. She wonders what controversy will next arise to wipe this one away, and if she'll be at the center of that one, too.

Of course she is disappointed.

She listens to people talk, she watches them interact, she pulls out tales and contentions, thread by tendril thread, from those around her. And she hears story after story--"outgrown Caledon", says one, and "down to my last parcel there", says another, and "haven't owned Caledon land in six months" says a third. Story after story, tale after tale. How much of the old guard has moved on? How many new faces will it take before no one's left of the old guard to welcome the new ones in? This, also, is not occurring to her for the first time.

Of course she is disappointed.

Partially because she's still contemplating what to say to Des, who so massively missed the point entirely; and if he missed it, the point, her point, painted in brushstrokes so bright and vibrant that she thought a child of five would have winced at the impossibility...then she was far, far too subtle for everyone else. This is not the first time she's been more subtle than the situation called for.

Of course she is disappointed.

Because she keeps making the same mistakes. Because in all her years she hasn't learned the trick of communication, of telling her truth to other beings in a fashion that stays with them, for at least as long as it takes to leave a dance. Because she doesn't know how she wound up again in this place, where no word seems true, where all faces seem false, where nothing can be relied upon and all her foundations tremble.

This is far, far from the first time that's happened, either.

People. Listen. Leave Lord Bardhaven out of it--fine, he's angered and hurt a great many, he's been muted by more, he's earned the karma. Fine. How many times do I have to say it was not about him?

Listen. What I do in the privacy of my own home; what I complain about in IM; what I gossip about in other homes; that is (reasonably considered to be) private. Nothing stops that, nothing interferes with that. I'm sure people have been complaining about me this week in various places, and that's also not the first time that's happened, and that's also fine.

Private complaint; private ranting; private upset...hells, in the wide scheme of things, even though this blog goes before the eyes of far more people than it did when it started, even this qualifies as 'private', to an extent, from the grid at large. Does anyone else understand that basic point?

Public on the grid DOES NOT EQUAL private on the grid. Public even OFF the grid DOES NOT EQUAL private on the grid. And in public on the grid, WE NEED TO BEHAVE BETTER.

How is this unclear?

And there's the question of phrasing. That was part of the problem, because it presented a no-win situation. Comparable to "So, how long have you been beating your wife?" If you answer "a long time", even jokingly, you're doomed; but conversely, if you answer "I haven't!" or some similar retort, it doesn't wash, because the question is already in the minds of the listeners.

"Are you still beating your wife" = "He must beat his wife." (And also, he must have a wife in the first place.)

"Does he still have a brother in jail?" = "His brother is in jail." (And, conversely, also has a brother.)

"How long has he been a racist?" = "He's a racist."

It's a trap, it's a loaded question, and it's one we all fell into, pro or con; whereupon the unfriendly feelings for Bardhaven rose up and overwhelmed the partygoers. And fine, yes, that's not good either, but the entire question as posed was a goad to the crowd.

We have to be better.

Listen. For the love of all gods, listen. We need to consider our words, in public, if not in private. We need to realize that sometimes things have meaning far beyond the moment. And yes, yes we are back to this--we need to have better manners.

Or we're just a regular crowd of net idiots who like fancy dress, who have the manners and comported behavior of your standard 4chan reader. We have to be better than that.

Or the entire experiment's a wash, start to finish.

Speaking of large unsettling changes...Second Life might be banned soon in Australia. That could change large things on the grid, considering the Aussie residents of Caledon alone.

And in the wake of the news, Second Life releases the Snowglobe viewer--which is apparently just packed with fun and amazing bugs and glitches--everything you hate from viewer 1.23 plus crashing every time you bring a texture into world! Or maybe get a texture at all, it's unclear.

That would be fun, wouldn't it? An improvement for the viewer on SL that makes it impossible to shop? Why bother even having an economy then...

Tonight was also the Poetry Slam at der Hut in Absinthe, and I didn't get word out early enough, and I was pulled in and out of world, anyway, so I was very very much distracted.

What I wanted to share then:

Writing Poems on Antidepressants

Each day offers some little irony or a dream
or a blind albino woman
sitting next to you on the train
with eyelashes like white silk threads
attached like broom-straw to her one closed eye
as she taps her cane against the window
and you, the poet on antidepressants,
thinks: look at that, hmmm, interesting.
Did I buy dog food? Here’s my stop.
--Nikki Moustaki

But I'll leave it up here anyway. Remember, every Thursday from five (ish) to seven (is) pm SLT, you can come to der Hut in Winterfell Absinthe and engage in spirited poetry-reading. All weapons must be no-push, with temp-rez ammo. Bring a sense of humor and a love for poetry.


Rhianon Jameson said...

Many people seem to have lost all sense of the public/private dividing line. These people have no boundaries. This is a world in which people will say the most amazing things on cell phones in crowded spaces. They will discuss their sex lives, medical problems, marital difficulties, and more, without any regard for who hears it - and then will act aggrieved if someone acknowledges having heard.

At least some of these people are in Second Life.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't there for the excitement, and I haven't read a chat log, but considering who was there, I doubt very much anyone thought it was a private space.

And for the record? As far as I'm concerned, if I can read something without a special sign-in or receiving particular permission, it is public.

This blog? Public.
These comments? Public.
Twitter? Public, even if you have them protected (the barrier to reading them is too low, and they can be retweeted too easily).
Caledon Forums? Public (sure, you have to sign in, but there's no particular filter on getting an account).

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson: And maybe that's part and parcel of the problem--it used to be that pay phones had the option of enclosure for truly private things; elsewise, one was restricted to the phone in one's home. The phone conversations in one's home were assumed to be private; if an average person could reasonably be expected to hear the conversation with a minimum of effort, then phone conversations beyond one's home were considered public; elsewise, if reasonable precautions had been taken, they were not.

Now? We are in an era where, yet again, technological evolution has outstripped cultural evolution. Merely talking on a cell phone is assumed to be private by the speaker; and assumed to be broadly public by anyone within range.

Emilly Orr said...

Otenth: All of that is true. I more meant the assumptions, though--main chat, even under the terms of ToS, is assumed public. Blog posts, this one, others, by other people: assumed public, yes, but as I don't assume everyone in Caledon reads this journal, it is within the realm of possibility that not all Caledonians know about things said here.

And while the various Nings, Twitter feeds and Caledon Forums are public, not everyone goes there, either. So that leaves us with main chat, as opposed to IM, or even local chat within private spaces with no reasonably assumption of being overheard.