Monday, August 29, 2011

Techie Trash, Power Games & Missing Husbands in Second Life

Tekkon Tech  (moderate)

Beware - this will be another one of those glimpses into the mysterious meandering thought processes of mine.  I went to visit Ionetorus Habilis' stores and workshop this morning.  While I was enjoying the wonderful, eclectic and intriguing display of her works I noticed a lot of litter and piles of garbage here and there.  Understandable of course - you put an artist or a techie into full blown creative mode and tidying up becomes a very low priority.  It's not like they notice the empty cups or take out containers on the floor.  Discarding pieces that don't fit or weren't just right makes sense and if you have the time occasionally to bag it all up well then you can promise yourself that someday the bags will make it to the recycling plant or landfill.  Civilization won't end if it doesn't get there for a while.

This reminded me in a lot of ways of the days I was in fulltime management consulting. 80 or 90 hour weeks was the norm and what I and my female colleagues did not have time for were the "home chores" that seemed to pile up.  We used to laugh and agree that what we each needed was a stereotypical "wife".  The person who stayed at home and took care of things there. We certainly didn't have the time or inclination.

Tekkon Tech  (moderate)

These thoughts led me to remember something that used to drive me crazy.  I would spend my days meeting with Directors of giant corporations helping solve large, complex and costly problems.  I was in demand and damn good at what I did and they took me very seriously.

However, when I went to conferences, luncheons or social events and was introduced to new people - usually with a reference to my professional status - the very first question which was always asked was "What does your husband do?".

You see people need a way of assigning us to a particular category or station relative to themselves.  In a business context (which to business people it always was) they needed to know if you represented "power" if compared to their own positions.  And, since as a woman, I could only hold power in their eyes as I reflected it from a man they naturally wanted to know my husband's job so they could categorize me.

Tekkon Tech  (moderate)

After the first dozen times I stopped responding with "What husband?"  and just started saying he was a "reactionary poet".  Talk often shifted to the weather at that point. :)

I started thinking about how different Second Life is in that respect.  I don't think people judge you by your "connections" inworld but of course it's not a relatively small homogeneous environment and most of those "power" games are ineffectual.  Certainly not (usually) knowing gender, race or body fat count renders those measuring tools meaningless.

But utopia we are not.  The need to judge and establish (at least in their own minds) their relative superiority is as necessary as breathing to some.  Yardsticks in the metaverse reflect the tools available to people who need a hierarchy so they can place themselves above you.

Tekkon Tech  (moderate)

One of the things people always point to about our world is that you can "create" yourself however you like.  Your appearance is solely dependent on your personal preference (well and your linden balance if you don't want to make things yourself) and the range of choices is endless.  Fashion of course has become an enormous industry and, in some cases, obsession.  Unfortunately it also provides an easy way for those who like to sit in judgement to criticize others for their appearance and feel smug,  Personally I think the concept of "fugly" deserves a place in the Universal Hall of Shame but small minds need their kicks.

We also see people create new categories of bigotry based on shape or species or even height.  They rest easy in their sense of self worth by condemning others for their choice of viewer, or spelling or anything they figure they can compete at with their own rules.

All of this is inevitable because we really do bring "ourselves" inworld when we logon and nobody becomes perfect just by turning on a computer (well except for me of course).  Still, it's depressing and I hope it remains a very small irritant on an otherwise enjoyable grid.

The really good news is that nobody asks me what my husband does.  :)

Tekkon Tech  (moderate)

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