Saturday, May 12, 2007

Partisan Assholery Goes Virtual

Or did it? This story is pretty old now, and I'm kind of glad I didn't get around to commenting on it soon after it occurred.

I still don't know what to make of Second Life. I have not tried the game and I don't particularly want to, other than out of an intense curiosity about what the fuss is all about. Yet in a way I understand the draw; it's just not the kind of thing that holds any interest for me anymore.

Like many once-exotic subcultures, I suspect its ethos will be assimilated into some other aspect of web culture, and once it is no longer a curio, no one will care too much about it. In short, it's kind of a cultural experiment they will have run its course when the novelty wears off. That or it becomes an integral part of real life. I'm hoping not.

Anyway, it turns out that it wasn't Republicans messing with Edwards. It was just a group of self-styled "e-terrorists," online assholes (griefers) who get their kicks harassing other players. An excellent breakdown of the whole incident, and the motivations of the perpetrators, is here.

I suppose if you must vandalize/ruin other peoples' day/engage in general sociopathy, it's best that you do it in an environment where your victims can literally pull the plug on you when they've had enough. Malcontents of the world, take your disaffection to Second Life.

Anyway, the Wired article has it right:

This is the modern-day equivalent of hippies freaking out the squares. You see countless news stories about this, over and over again: the gray humorless drones of political parties or corporations rushing to establish a presence in Second Life because it's the thing to do, only to find themselves staring directly into the collective of the Internet's soul.
Would-be hipsters, if you want to inhabit a virtual world, be prepared for what that entails. Like many aspects of web culture, SL's greatest allure is also its most awful flaw. The good: It provides a virtual universe in which people can do things that they couldn't/wouldn't ever do in real life. The bad: That's what people go there to do!

And Google it.