Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Masocado Christmas

My home region of Masocado has, like many places in Second Life, a predominantly tropical theme.  Sandy beaches, warm sunshine, and swaying palm trees.  Most of the year, I love this.  I love the tropics, and eagerly look forward to any vacation we can arrange there in Real Life.  Sometimes I wish I was married to Jimmy Buffett instead of the Resident Geek (only a momentary fantasy, dear...don't be alarmed!)

But the tropical theme doesn't lend itself so easily to seasonal changes.  Still, I re-do the place for Halloween and for Christmas.  This time of year, our harbor freezes over, the palm trees get frost in them, and there's snow on the ground, at least in spots.  Penguins and polar bears take up residence, as Christmas trees, wreaths, and lights appear everywhere.  The dance floor at Ava's Gardens, our open-air jazz club, is turned into a skating rink.  And right around Christmas Eve, snowfall is very likely.

Polar bears in the tropics?  Well, why not?  This is Second Life after all, and what we experience depends more on our imaginations and whimsical notions than on dreary old scientific principles.

I hope some of my Gentle Readers will pay Masocado a visit this season...but even if you don't, DO be sure to visit at least some of the wonderful Christmas builds that pop up everywhere around the grid at this time.  The Destinations Guide will point you to some of them.  The regions of Caledon are always well turned out for Christmas, too.  The four regions of the Second Life Xmas Expo feature some great seasonally-themed shopping; please spare some $L to donate to the Relay for Life kiosks there as well.

And here is the inevitable Teaching Note:  If you use the popular Firestorm viewer, enabling Parcel Windlight and Region Windlight in your preferences will allow you to see many of these builds in the way their creators intended.

Winter Night at Ava's Gardens
Frosted Palm Trees
Even Old Stone Face Gets in the Spirit

Beary Nice Skating

And Homicidal Snowmen!  What More Could You Ask?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How Typical!

Last night, I was at Caledon Oxbridge University, helping newcomers.  It's very common for me to get unsolicited Friends requests from newcomers, and sure enough, one popped up in my windows.

The avatar who had sent it wasn't even in visual range, and had never said a word to introduce himself.  This, too, is common.  Annoying, but I'm used to it.  I turned down the offer, with a polite comment that I didn't normally accept Friends offers until after I'd gotten to know a person.

This fellow, as it happened, was a Frenchman.  After exchanging a few increasingly biting comments, he said, "Typical American".

Well, that really made me angry.  I'm not a typical anything, thank you very much.  I'm me -- unique, one of a kind, accept no substitutes!  So I shot back, "Typical Frenchman!" and muted the annoyance.

But he was not anything of the kind, of course.  I have met several Frenchmen (and French women) in Second Life.  Except for this one rude one, every one of them was friendly, open, interesting, and willing to work with me to communicate across the language barrier.  Vive la France!

It's too easy to shove people into boxes.  Then we can dismiss them with a shrug.  Typical Jew.  Typical American.  Typical liberal, typical conservative.  Just a typical man...or woman.  First we generalize, then we belittle.  It's only a short step to turning the other person into a Them.  You know, the They who are Out to Get Us.  Us vs. Them.  They are no good.  Them is the Enemy, the faceless nonpersons we're allowed to hate.

While this person may have been a typical jerk, he was most certainly not a typical Frenchman, and it was only my anger that caused me to snap out that comeback.

My point?  Just this:  No matter who we are, and how rational we think we are, we all have to be on guard against this tendency to simplify our world picture by popping people into boxes. It may be typical...but it's wrong.