Friday, January 11, 2013

Skin Wars, A Time For Healing.

skin wars
Over this past year I have watched a drama play out in Second Life that hit at the very soul of our virtual world.  I followed closely what was said by the "experts" and by many people including those I don't really know but who are considered leaders in their areas of interest in SL.  Like many people, I did not find out about the "drama" until long after it all went down, mainly because I pretty much keep to myself and try to avoid the drama fests but life IS drama and I suppose our mettle as human beings is daily tested by our involvement in and response to the drama that happens all around us.  Certainly THIS drama was relevant on many levels.

I am not against people discussing events that happen.  I think it is human nature and that people need to sort through things and talking about them can be healthy.  What I am against is when the discussion disintegrates into personal attacks and sides and an ostracisation of anyone who does not agree with the "gang."  I also do not think it is healthy to "speculate" in public forums because while you may have a close circle of friends that can discuss possibilities without attaching the word "fact" to them, some people cannot.  Unstable people, vindictive people, often find the fuel they need from these "speculations" to start melting the tar and preparing the feathers.  Their agenda is not "sorting it out in their own mind," their agenda is to cause damage.

I am no expert on skins or copyright issues.  I am not a creator in SL.  I am just a SL citizen who like many, has at times held positions with titles but most often just kicked around on my own.  Those titles do not give me one iota of more value than any other person in SL - not then and not now.  I am not speaking for anyone but me.

Were skins copy botted?  I don't know.  There are people who claim to know but I need more proof of what makes a person an "expert" beyond self proclamation or the endorsement of their friends.  I am not saying anyone who insisted the skins were copied is NOT an expert, I am just saying, I don't know and am not qualified to pronounce them experts.  An educated opinion on something does not a fact make.  Lots of "experts" have been wrong in many areas and some "experts" have convicted innocent people. 

I understand allegations were made by both sides.  Who is in the wrong?  I don't know.  Like many court cases, this ended with both sides agreeing to keep quiet (it appears) and agreeing to move forward without further legal proceedings.  Why did that happen?  I don't know. 

I appreciate all the ideas and suggestions that people have made about what originally happened between the two parties, what probably happened with the legal proceedings and what the wording really means.  Some of them may be very knowledgeable regarding the law and wording and some may have a great deal of experience in that arena but truthfully - they don't really know either.  The principles in this are not talking.  In fact, the principles STOPPED talking about it almost as soon as the story broke. 

In the absence of any cold hard facts, all we have had is speculation.

I understand that some people were concerned for very good reasons.  THIS case represented a core issue for creators in SL.  Some people were concerned for a friend and a colleague.  But there were many who were just whore mongering the whole drama and fanning the flames with personal attacks on the parties involved, and anyone who happened to disagree with their own opinion.

I know that bloggers were attacked, and other designers for choosing not to take sides by continuing to support both parties until more facts were ascertained.   The central issue around public discussion seemed to be that the discussion was about what an "ass" one party is and what a "saint" the other party is. If you expressed a dissenting opinion on the issue or any of the speculation, then you too, were an ass.  Were any of the people involved, in the principle event or the ensuing discussion, asses?  I don't know.   The right to form your own opinion, it seemed, only applied if you formed the group determined opinion.

 It seemed that waiting for outcome was only ok if it involved having nothing to do with one party NOT if it involved carrying on without judgment until facts were released.   Waiting for the powers that be to enforce penalties, where required, was not an opiton. 
That is usually how legal things work.  They don't hand people over for stoning anymore.  The court determines guilt and attaches the appropriate penalties.  I think some people are more comfortable to wait and follow those recommendations than to allow others to dictate what penalties should be enforced while we wait for the verdict.

I have often told people who get involved in the break up of marriages that it is a dangerous road to travel.  Listening to " he said, she said" and forming opinions based on hearing one side, or assuming you know what is going on as you look in on any situation .... is a big mistake.  Even in counselling, where both parties are present, you only facilitate the interaction that occurs between the two people and no matter how involved, you are not party to that complex process.  People who involve themselves tend only to damage the relationship because the truth is not black and white.  There is a lot more to every story and couples cannot even begin to express all that is and is not to other people.   It is easier to tell you what a jerk someone is when I am hurt and want to paint their actions as having been cruel, then it is to explain we made up and how I over reacted, was not fair in what I said, and it was all a misunderstanding.   In other words, they have a self imposed gag order on the outcomes just because they could not ever explain it all to other people.  In this case there is a gag order with the courts, meaning none of us will ever know the full story.

So the two people, once squared off against one another on the playground, have gathered their things and have gone home and are getting ready for the next day but there are those who are still there, living in the drama, disappointed that someone did not get smashed and  a clear victor crowned.   They want to continue the fight and the nastiness, ignoring the legally agreed to directive from the two parties.   People  invested, some with money, in a desired outcome and now there will be no clear resolution, just a return to peaceful  coexistence.  Maybe no-one was clearly right and no-one was clearly wrong.  Maybe there was no crime and maybe everyone else that involved themselves created something that never was.  I don't know.

Life is not about winning and losing as often as we think it is.  A good parent, a good teacher, a good mediator, a good boss, will look for a way to rescue the human beings from a tough situation and move forward in a way that is positive and healthy.  It is about learnings, understandings, and compromise.  Life is like that.  We are not playing a sport here, we are dealing with 2 human beings, and life, and income, and possible mistakes on both sides.

The ladies want to get on with life and have agreed to do so without addressing the past.  It is possible that one or both of them are not happy with that decision and feel angry that they were not completely vindicated, as some have suggested.  I don't know.  It may seem that justice was robbed but this was never our fight, even though many made it theirs because they felt it represented a growing problem in SL that impacts them directly.  The two women, like couples with a troubled marriage, are the only two who can sort out their own situations and determine the outcome, despite the fact it appears to represent something much bigger than just the two of them.   It really never was "our" fight.  We simply attached meaning and purpose to it that addressed our own needs.

So I am going to respect their wishes and accept their statement for what it says and embrace that there are 2 stores selling skins in Second Life that have a right to be there.  I am not "voting" with my Lindens, I am not "going to teach someone a lesson" with my actions.  I am going to trust that we have all learned and moved forward and that any mistakes made will not be repeated.  If they are,  I will deal with them as they come up, and not project what MAY happen.

I have made a ton of mistakes in my life. I am not the same person I was even 3 months ago, because my experiences change me and I am in a constant state of growing and redefining myself.  I have made mistakes that have hurt other people, some intentionally, some unintentionally.  I am grateful to the people in my life who have allowed me the space to evolve into a better person and to learn from those mistakes.

I am going to pay that forward for both of these ladies and assume that life got messy, as it often does.  I will accept that I will never have any way of really knowing what did or did not happen and I am going to lay this all to rest.  As I have said throughout this post, " I don't know."  When I am faced with not knowing, I like to err on the side of giving people the "benefit of the doubt."  That is the only way I can look at myself in the mirror each day.  I feel bad enough when I judge people for something I know about. 

Now if someone wants to assign me other motives, or question the actions I choose for me, and insist I need to declare allegiance one way or another or penalize me in any way because of my choice  - THAT will be about the ugliness in THAT person and I cannot address that any more than I can create world peace.

Let the healing begin.

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”  Gandhi
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