Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rudeness in Second Life

This is me attempting to achieve some sense of peace and balance after a couple of Linden Office Hours yesterday. It was a challenge which, frankly, I'm still working on.

I've mentioned before that I'm a Canadian. There are a lot of generalizations used to describe Canadians by the rest of the world and many of them are true (albeit still generalizations). We are (by and large) polite. We say please and thank you and I'm sorry with what may seem to be monotonous regularity. It's not so much that we're aiming to be polite....it's that we're working very hard not to be rude. Rudeness is a "sin" in our culture. One of the worst things you can say about another person is that they are rude. We don't like it, we aren't comfortable with it and as far as possible we won't tolerate it.

I'm still speaking in generalizations - there are some rude Canadians (the rest of us think they've been corrupted by influences outside of our borders) but they are a very tiny minority. When confronted by rudeness we try and ignore it if possible - it never happened. If that isn't an option we try and respond as politely as we are able - after all, being rude ourselves would be bad even if provoked.

To some this may seem "weak" or "namby pamby". It's not. In fact, assuming that the absence of rude implies an absence of backbone is an enormous mistake. We have simply established a framework for social discourse and interplay which relies heavily on courtesy and consideration.

All of this needs to be kept in mind when I say that the two Office Hours I attended yesterday were consumed primarily by rude, obnoxious and aggressively nasty individuals. I should say the first was - when the second started to become hijacked by the same people with the same dialogue I left.

I understand that many people are passionate in their beliefs. They are skilled and knowledgable about technology and the issues and they have very strong opinions about perceived errors committed and high levels of frustration with an apparent lack of enthusiasm for correcting them.

All that being said - it doesn't give them the right to act like school yard bullies. Attacking people you see as the embodiment of the antichrist is a fruitless exercise in achieving your goals.

Don't believe me? Well then, how successful has it been for you todate? Since you're spewing the same venom over and over and over again, week after week, I'd conclude this approach isn't working for you.

There is no point in representing yourself as the cute little dragon in the picture above and then mouthing off like the one below.


I realize that people who act like this don't care what I think and there's no reason they should - I have no power or authority to grant them what they so strongly desire. However, they might want to take the following points into consideration if they'd like to actually make progress on the goals they are trying so hard to achieve.


  • Do some research on the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. You'll find the former will prove much more successful in both the short and long term.
  • Learn the habit of listening - try to do that at least as often as you speak. You might learn something and if nothing else you will give the other person a measure of the respect they deserve. After all - you expect them to listen to you.
  • If somebody says they can't comment on a specific topic, don't keep repeating the question.
  • Don't use the word "we" in your demands or as part of your insults. Unless (and I'm misquoting Zha Ewry here) you are pregnant, a member of the Royal Family or some weird mutated hybrid creature, the word "we" is inappropriate. I realize you feel it will give your words more weight by implying that you speak for a large group but it just annoys the hell out of everybody else there who is thinking "wait, you don't speak for me".

    If you do represent a group and are speaking for them, say the following: "As the representative of such and such a group, I feel.........".

  • Remember in most cases you are conveying your opinions, not facts. Stating them as facts (no matter how strong your convictions are) will only make you look desperate not informed.
  • Please stick to the agenda of the meeting. Your personal priorities may not be on it. Bringing up your topic constantly no matter what else is on the table earns you no points.
  • Finally - remember in Second Life it's easy to eliminate the rude and boorish. The mute button is extremely effective and once muted your chance to influence anybody is eliminated.

I will continue to attend meetings and Office Hours when time permits. I learn a lot and there's always the chance that I might actually be able to contribute something. :) However, after yesterday I will be hitting the mute button. The aggravation is just not worth the time and energy that rudeness insists on stealing from the rest of us.

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Credits: Yoga area - Hikari
Tiny Dragon Avatar - Extrovirtual
Large Dragon Avatar - Seawolf Monsters


11 comments:

Maggie Darwin said...

Of course, showing up for a couple of office hours and then pronouncing "ur doing it wrong" ex cathedra Canadienne might be considered rude by some too...(cue further lecture about how Some Standards Of Behaviour Are Accepted By All Right Thinking People) :-)

Honour McMillan said...

lol very true - although I have been to many more OH's :) just got fed up yesterday.
This is just my opinion and I admit that. :)
And I hope that avoiding any confrontations inworld kept my rudeness to a minimum. :)

raulcrimson.com said...

Even i last time i went to an office hour was a lot of time ago (probably years) i think this is not exclusive of office hours.
Just go to any meeting with Lindens and the result will be the same, a few ones being really rude, speaking and speaking in a really aggressive way, interrupting other's speeches, etc...
Well... set any random group of people in SL (or RL) and a topic and the result will be the same.

Opensource Obscure said...

Thanks Honour,
you wrote exactly what I'm currently feeling - "our" behaviour during Office Hours recently got noticeably worst.

I only add that everyone is free to act like a dick, troll Lindens and being rude when they're in their blog or microblog.

Doing that in a shared space during a meeting is more like an abuse.
It may even lead to Lindens simply stopping their meetings, which will probably make trolls happy since they will have something else to whine about, that is their actual point.

Oh, and by the way Canada is one of the countries where I'd like to move, should I ever leave Italy.

pallina60 Loon said...

What is true and everything I realized only recently in a group I belong to SL. Often those who use its opinions or the words "we" or "all", suggesting to be the spokesman for a group of people, has no documentation of this. I think it is an abuse of power. These individuals use their credibility and reputation within a group and it is often difficult to put them into question. If you try to do this, often succeed too rude. Are now bitter because of this.

Prokofy said...

You might have a case if you put a transcript and proved that in fact there really were some rude people at this Office hour that we might all recognize as rude -- and I do mean we, and I do mean the common-sense people of SL.

It's annoying net-nanny types like you that suck up to the Lindens and whine about anyone criticizing them that make these Linden office hours unbearable. I tend to avoid them for that reason.

The Lindens only understand one thing: force.

Honour McMillan said...

@Raul - I hope it's not always the same :)
@Opensource - thanks, and I'm sure we'd be glad to adopt you :)
@pallina60 - *hugs*

Zetaphor said...

@Prokofy: Case and point

Brenda said...

@Prokofy Oh, so Honour needs to violate TOS to make you feel better? Case in point, indeed.

Torley said...

This made me smile, and there are some seriously useful points. As someone who's hosted and attended more office hours than I can remember, spreading the word about this stuff is key to understanding each other and having effective discussions.

I'm also going to link to this from http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/SLetiquette :)

Honour McMillan said...

@Torley - /me blushes