Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Evolution of "Truthiness" in the Second Life Blogosphere

awesome  ur doin it rite

Truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Wikipedia

Writing a blog is a lot like thinking out loud when you're drunk. In many cases the words spill forth without filters or editing or the apparent application of even a limited amount of reasoned logic. It isn't necessary to be any good at it (however "good" is defined), we all have the freedom and ability to blog; to put forth our pearls (or dung balls) of so called wisdom for the pleasure/edification or bewilderment of the rest of the interweb.

Some blog writers strike a chord in a few readers and these hardy followers visit with regularity to see what the latest missive might tell them. There are other blog writers who manage to acquire a large following ..... sometimes because what they write is agreeable, sometimes because what they write is akin to a traffic accident that others just have to watch.

It is my own personal belief that occasionally we bloggers spend so much time in what amounts to talking to ourselves (with varying numbers of eavesdroppers) that we start to develop a subconscious belief that we are "wise". That we know what we are talking about. Our blogposts start to feel like sermons to the faithful (and to the unbelievers who simply need to be shown the righteous path).

The notion of "truthiness" I think should be self evident if you read more than one or two Second Life related blogs. Certainly the impending demise of Second Life announced with regularity would seem to be a great example. I don't know what's really going on - but then I doubt any of my fellow bloggers do either. Some just have enough confidence in their "gut" to publish speculation and consider it wisdom. This is all relatively harmless - opinion, speculation and conclusion jumping is basically entertainment for the reader and one would hope a pinch of salt is consumed with each post viewed.

For at least one blogger though, the concept of "truthiness" has moved into a new sphere.

"Truthiness is 'What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.' It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality." Stephen Colbert

This individual is so convinced of their own infallibility that something is not the truth unless they say it is. This is beyond exercising the right to add your own voice to a debate. This is arrogating the right to decide what is and is not fact.

I think it's fair to say that we all know that there are lies told on the internet. Virtual Worlds are neither immune to nor the only locations where individuals will fabricate tales - particularly concerning their physical world selves and lives. Each of us decides how much to take at avatar-face value and how much judgement to reserve. On some occasions we're wrong and learn a lesson about trust and the amount of weight to give to the words of others. This is just part of the reality in virtual worlds (and yes that may be an oxymoron).

Recently there were reports of the death of metaversal resident. This particular blogger expressed severe doubts about the validity of these reports, apparently because they didn't like the person in question, and felt justified in telling the rest of the world not to believe it either. This individual went further and explained that real world obituaries could not be trusted and then phoned a funeral parlour to get the "facts".

Ignoring the level of obsession and potentially disordered mind this behaviour might demonstrate - my outrage (and yes I was/am outraged) stemmed from the thought of the friends and loved ones of this individual who must deal with not only the pain of their loss but the insult of this blogger's actions.

This blogger has demonstrated not only a belief in their own omniscience but a completely callous disregard for personal privacy and the feelings of others. It brought to mind the actions of George Kennedy in the funeral scene from Charade and I for one, although not particularly wise, am appalled.


R. said...

It is my hope one day to bridge the gap between being agreeable and being a traffic accident to become an agreeable traffic accident.

(There are some of the "chattering classes" who will claim that I've already achieved this, and I think I ought to exchange insurance information with them, if we can agree on that, yes?)


Honour McMillan said...

Somehow I suspect the ability to categorize you is something that won't be acquired until some date far in the future. I'm pretty sure an alien race will have the appropriate vocabulary. :)

Anonymous said...

When I first started blogging, I set up a get out clause with my closest friends.
If I ever start to take the whole thing too seriously, if I begin to see myself as a 'journalist' (I read it too..), If I start to see that everything I say is the truth and nobody else is right, in other words if I submit to truthiness (I love the Colbert Report!), then my friends have been given my blessing to knock the living daylights out of me.....

I'm guilty of speculating every now and then (I've always admitted that), just hoping I haven't been throwing too many dungballs

Honour McMillan said...

:) I'm hoping that self importance is much like crazy - crazy people don't thing they are and don't question their sanity. Those who ask themselves if they've crossed the line of self importance probably haven't reached it yet.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your perspective on this element of SL blogging that I hadn't given much thought to but I see is prevalent in some that I read.

There are those that make me feel that I must be living on another planet and/or remarkably stupid because the concepts and arguments just go swoosh over my head. It took me a while to realize that it isn't necessarily me. Sometimes it's just a load of disordered and self-absorbed thoughts.

Aria E. Appleford said...

I think it is often a matter of we just have no idea how important they think they are in their own little minds ... and being "someone" in Second Life (ie having a faceless crowd willing to applaud you as you wade into your own BS) can be very empowering and heady. I would love for just one day the "veil" to fall away and we all be standing there, our real selves and we can look around at "our crowd" that applauds and encourages our "knowingness." I wonder if we would still feel the same? Good post!

Chestnut Rau said...

Great post Honour. The only thing I know for sure is I don't know anything for sure.

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