Sometimes I think that I’m a generally clueless maybe even naive person, always caught off guard by the things occurring around me. And now, belatedly saddened by the things occurring around me. I’m troubled by the events of the past few days, alluded to, whispered about, bandied about really – by people who actually know nothing but ‘what they’ve been told.’ If I had a linden for every time in the last few days I’ve seen someone state in that hotbed of intrigue, Plurk, “I heard that this person did this or that” I’d be SLrich. It’s almost impossible to defend ones self against a rumor. There is no proof. There is only, “well my friend such and such told me this or that, and of course I love this person dearly and they’d never lie.” Or, my other favorite generalized statement, ‘this person is crazy (or a moron, or a thief, please fill in the blank.)” Oh rly? I’m still waiting to see the proof of all these various allegations. And so should you before you say more or share the statement with someone else. Did you know that there are REAL people in SL? No really it’s true. We’re all anonymous of course. Which is nice. But our very interaction within SL creates a persona, a brand, a reputation that over time, becomes something that we wish to protect. Or, give up on protecting because the pain, anger and sadness of trying to deny a rumor becomes too much. At present I’m sitting in my family room, typing this on my laptop computer while my avatar, or the virtual representation of my REAL SELF, is sitting in the particle lab on Teal. See, here’s the thing, I’m a real person. I have real feelings, I am by turns jealous, angry, and happy, I have faults, habits, and doubts. Oh and I can be hurt.
People perhaps criticizing my work, or making denigrating statements about things I like can hurt me, or the people I care about. And I can react in a variety of ways that are available to this virtual world that we live in – I can create a blog post, make a Plurk entry, make a statement in the SLForums, shoot tiny pastes like little atom bombs all over the interwebs, IM everyone on my friends list, etc. about this hurt I have. I can just let it go, if I want. It’s too terribly easy to do this.
Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to many, many people, about many, many things, and I’ve been struck by several things. Five different people will perceive the same event in different ways, myself included. I’ve been able to witness first hand, the hurt and pain that can be caused by baseless rumors and innuendo. And I guess I want to say this – Think. Please stop and think about the rumors, the stories you hear. Challenge them. Challenge the person who’s telling it. Ask questions – don’t accept – ask to see the evidence of their statements. Because the truth is this – the next time a rumor runs rampant like a destructive wild fire through peoples lives, it could be you or the people who you love that are burned. And like me, you too could lose a friend.