The SLippery SLope
(“What do you mean; an African or a European swallow?”)
Borrowing from Monty Python’s “Quest for the Holy Grail”, I chose to write an article for this month’s advice column about “migration”. Yes, an African swallow does not migrate. However, a European swallow migrates all the way to Africa for the winter. But that’s fodder for a different article. What I would like to focus on is the whole idea of migration and the importance of migrating; leaning this article in the end to ask you, yes you, if you would be an African or a European swallow. Failure to get the answer correct will have you cast into the pit of eternal peril! Just kidding.
Birds migrate for food and survival. Nomads migrate in the desert for much the same cause, though their reasons are quite different. Senior citizens in the United States migrate towards the equator because they are forced to by some undeniable inherited genetic mutation of some form about which I can merely speculate. But fact of the matter remains, migration is key to survival on many levels for many species and for countless reasons.
So, welcome to Second Life. Some perhaps, like me for instance, migrated into Second Life’s myriad lands out of a need to augment their existence. Some came to escape specific vectors in real life. Some are in Second Life just for the fun of it, while others “need” certain aspects of it to improve not only the meaning, but the quality of their real lives. It bears mentioning at this point that I would counsel against anyone using Second Life to wholly replace their real life situations and social interactions.
The previous paragraph should establish a truth. I know that most science tends to avoid that word, but it is essential in social sciences to anchor people to time-tested normalcies. This truth I make mention of is that there are people in our ever growing and changing Second Life world that are here for social or emotional healing, life meaning, increase of purpose through contribution, and much more. These are all very real and viable reasons to be in Second Life. Recognizing that people are here for those reasons should inspire us to interacting with one another less flippantly at first. Respect avatars and the people behind them enough to learn more about their motivations before making snap judgments.
With that truth established, and my appeals made, let me reiterate my points. It is essential for the social growth of Second Life to migrate your real life ethics and moral structures into your avatar. In fact, I feel such a migration should be imposed on all internet related chat. Because you don’t show your real face or see the real faces of others does not excuse you from your decency or integrity. Real people with real feelings live behind the text and graphics of digital interaction. For the mental, psychological and emotional heath of yourself and others, you owe the internet your better self.
As internet and digital communications continue to rapidly grow into an intercourse majority, it is imperative that we “migrate” our ethics into them or die as an aggregate. Without migration of our core ethics, we would condemn Second Life and other internet-based chat protocols to becoming heartless communities full of abusers who abuse one another. I have a vision of a far greater, much less polarized future for Second Life.
In closing, since this issue of The Konstrukt is devoted primarily to Voice, let me mention the importance of avoiding social divisions over Voice. Using voice and not using voice is a preference, not a limitation. Be cautious that you don’t begin to merit one preference above another. Preferences are equalizers, not delineators. Just because I prefer fish over beef doesn’t suddenly make me a “fish-person” or a lesser being than those who prefer beef.
Now I present the alluded-to question. Will you be and African or a European swallow? Will you migrate your morals into the global market place, or will you ignore the needs around you and just feed yourself where you stand. The choice is yours to apathy, harm or help.
I am still looking forward to receiving Notecards or IM’s from all you readers out there. Refer to the July issue of The Konstrukt for the purpose of this on-going article. I really hope to help others through this spot in the magazine, so please write in your questions or concerns. Your questions and advice needs are sworn to anonymity. Be well, everyone, and love one another.