Where was that again?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Story Time!

Story time kids!

Once upon a time, I landed on a sim in Second Life, not knowing what to expect, and not knowing how it would come to impact my SL over the course of three years.  I was dating Leo at the time, and he’d decided he wanted to explore spending time in his SL as a lycan. (A lycan, for the sake of simple explanation, is like a super werewolf. It can shift form at will, walk upright, carries more muscle, and is smarter than a werewolf. ) I didn’t fancy myself as “dog-like”, as I was sporting a neko tail and ears at the time, so I didn’t share his desire. He picked up a lycan avatar and spent some time running around his sim wearing it, and apparently in his searching, came across a HUD based game that involved lycans and vampires. He goes over to check it out, and ends up joining it, I go over with him to look around, undecided. Being a good girlfriend, I ended up joining the game as well, but as a vampire, under the same person as him. That was May 19, 2009. Leo and I didn’t last, but I had gotten caught up in the game and stuck with it, whereas he drifted off into whatever.

I was an employee at the store where the HUDS were sold by mid-August, a clan elder around the same time, and in October of 2009 I went halves on a lycan pack with a good friend and became an “alpha lycan”. This led to getting further involved with the game, because then there were leader meetings, and the added responsibility of “policing” our own, which we were pretty good at. By then I was putting in probably between 30 and 40 hours a week on average at the store, the game had basically become what my SL centered around, and I was okay with that. 

Some may wonder why I’d be okay with centering my SL around it, and the answer is simply that the people I played with made it worth it. There was such an amazing social atmosphere that complimented the competitive nature of the game beautifully. It made you want to log in and play, you didn’t mind “dying” quite as much, because you had people to chat with who were also “dead” and you could watch other people fly around the common “hunting” places in the midst of combat, and it was still enjoyable. Meeting on rooftops for agreed upon one-on-one battles, double kills, sim raids on clan homes, official declarations of war with laughter afterward… Sixty minutes passed as if they were twenty, friendships were forged, relationships developed, dirty deeds done in secret… fond memories.

It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, it became evident that the game we had bought into and came to love was changing, and not necessarily in a good way. Greed was the suspected factor and things were sent into a whirlwind as the owner decided to try and blow things up to attract new players. “Dead time” progressed from the sixty minutes to thirty, then to fifteen. There were promises tossed around about how new “species” were being introduced into the game, and how they’d be different than the vampires, lycans, hunters, and hybrids we were accustomed to. Promises that went unfulfilled, with the only change being made in the terminology, not in the actual capabilities. Those of us who had been in the game for a while by then felt more and more neglected and worthless as our voices seemed to stop being heard. There hit a point where your membership in the game seemed to depend on how the owner was feeling that day when you happened to cross his path. A bit of a dramatic statement, yes, but it was the feeling of the time, not necessarily the actual actions. People grew less apt to say anything when they disagreed with what was going on because they feared losing their investments into the game, with no recourse.

Eventually the original owner seemed to grow less interested in maintaining the game, and the effort to keep interest strong. By then it wasn’t going to be possible to bring things back to the original atmosphere, as too many changes had been put in place. Other ventures began to take precedence over the game and then there were suddenly two new names in the picture. I’m still not completely sure if they were meant to be co-owners or simply investors who would receive some of the revenues, but they seemed to come out of nowhere.  Whatever the intended effect of these two people coming in was meant to be, I don’t think it was achieved because nothing useful changed for a while and the game continued to slide lower toward complete disaster.

About a year ago now the biggest change of all came, and that was in the form of a new owner. I was cautiously hopeful that maybe things would improve with the change in ownership, hopes that were in vain. Instead, the game has continued its decent toward its final days. Each change worse than the one before, with seemingly no responsibility taken by her, only resulting in complaints being directed toward those who feel some strange obligation to take the abuse in her place, rather than recognizing that she’s copping out. 

The court system that was put into place a long time ago to deal with rule violations has been grossly corrupted, with unjust rulings, or the overturning of just rulings, based on who the people involved are. Good people have been accused of and punished for things they should not be held accountable for. Bad people have been allowed to remain in the game, in spite of their actions. The rules are not applied fairly across the board, and rules are added or adjusted to stifle rather than enhance the game experience.

There isn’t an end to this story yet, and there may not be one for a while, but one thing is for certain: It is on the horizon.

As always, comments are open below. They are not reviewed prior to being posted, however I will remove any personal attacks. This is not the forum for that, there is one available to those who understand this story’s origins, ask around. I’m accepting private messages regarding this posting via email, second life messages, or facebook inbox. If you choose to use one of those venues, know that the attitude conveyed in your message to me will dictate the one you receive back. Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Patterns... not just dots and lines

Patterns, life is full of them. Be it in your own life, or that of those around you. The question you should ask isn’t what those patterns are, but how much attention are you actually paying to them? Chances are, not nearly enough. If you’re a member of a social network such as Facebook, Plurk, Twitter, or even MySpace (for whatever reason), stop for a moment and think about what you seem to see on people’s updates over and over again. Those are the patterns.

Some people seem to be forever embroiled in drama, be it relationship or something more, whereas others may seem to be in constant depression or self destructive mode. Then there’s the ones who imagine themselves to be some sort of butterfly of love, flitting from relationship to relationship, grabbing hold of the first open flower, so to speak, only to end up wondering why they’re left feeling unfulfilled… or even up there with the aforementioned drama plagued group. So, what does this have to do with you? Maybe nothing, maybe everything; this is simply my observations and musings.

No one’s above the patterns, not me, not you. We all get caught up in one or another, the difference comes in how we handle said patterns, and whether we actually learn something from them. It seems that many people don’t, determined to keep doing the same things time and time again, changing nothing, and then venting their frustrations to the world. They have a name for that, in case you were wondering, it’s called insanity. Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results… I’m often insane, in case you wondered, and I have no shame in that.

So, I guess my challenge to you, should you care to bother, would be to start paying attention. Pay attention to what you say or do. Pay attention to what other people say or do. Identify the patterns, decide if there’s a lesson to be had.  If it’s your own pattern, is it a healthy one? If not, what changes can you make to improve it? If it’s someone else’s pattern, is it negatively impacting your life? If so, can you afford to remove them from your life? Food for thought, random musings… whatever you want to call it.

It’s all just my… Insanity.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA... a borrowed breakdown

This is being shared with permission of CodeBastard Redgrave, and all the information that this post contains was pulled from the plurk page located at http://www.plurk.com/p/fctraw . Only minor adjustments have been made for readability by way of spelling and some grammar correction. None of the actual information was changed.

So.  DNS Blacklisting. How does it work, and how does it affect the internet? Let me explain all of that to you. First and foremost, to understand SOPA and how bad its whole basis is, you have to understand what a DNS server is and how it works. 

See, all websites on the internet are accessed through what is called TCP/IP, the basic internet protocol. But TCP/IP only deals with numbers. IP addresses are constituted of 4 8bit numbers separated by a dot, looking something like (this address is fake, the 192 Class A is reserved for internal LAN uses and doesn't exist on the net).

so, of course, numbers being not really practical for humans to remember beyond a phone number, the engineers thought about some kind of universal internet Yellow Book, a glue that would take every name and translate them into an IP address, and vice versa. Enter DNS, the Domain Name System, through which we can affectionately use a common name like plurk.com, and DNS resolves it to an IP. Your web browser then knows where the website is located by its IP, and magic! You can now view your beloved web page.
Unfortunately, DNS had to be centralized some way or else nobody would have had consistent results as for their DNS queries. Enter the ROOT DNS servers. Those are a bunch of central DNS servers that are fed by a plethora of other DNS servers in the world. The ROOT DNS belong mostly to a handful of American companies but some root servers are also hosted elsewhere in the world.

Every ISP and hosting providers have their own DNS servers, which are in Master mode, so when the Root server gets a query on a non-authoritative domain, the request is simply sent to the DNS server the domain is pointing to, and voila, it replies to the query.      

Simple enough I hope? Now you can see that the whole interwebs  is stuck together by merely a handful of DNS servers, the Root servers. This is a weakness but also a force of the internet, as there is little to no intervention on them, as long as they are up everybody can count on them to serve then the webpage.
(Quick pause in the thread’s progression with a comment of “btw, people, this also explains why sometimes your browser doesn't seem to work but your Skype does (Skype uses IP addresses) when your ISP's DNS goes kaput” and the response of “^ definitely true. Some applications use IP directly instead of DNS for more "reliability" as DNS is an extra point of failure.”)

Anyways, enter SOPA…
SOPA's whole concept is based on what is called DNS blacklisting, which only exists at a lower DNS level than root servers for example China and Syria uses a DNS blacklist since the whole country is behind a firewall, the government controls all of the DNS servers being used to resolve domain names for that country. So if they add something on that list, boom, nobody is able to resolve it anymore, and the website is effectively blocked. Imagine going to open very popular websites and see them vanish, while the rest of the world can see them. Scary, innit?
Think that is scary? This is still on a local point, this particular country's DNS. If they added Google to their own blacklist, only their own country would be blocking it. But imagine if it affected the whole internet?

More discussion ensues:
Question: is there a theoretical possibility to somehow decentralize root servers? As in torrent decentralized?
Answer: That's what the SOPA/PIPA have in planning, putting blacklist software on the ROOT DNS servers.
Asker: Sure, that torrent would be huge... but still sounds nice

Answerer: (asker): yes and yes, it's actually being discussed by several engineers, but it needs a complete re-engineering of the DNS system. There are several propositions in that way and i hope they will be implemented pronto.

Second Answerer: (Asker): a lot has to do with traffic minimization too. DNS' update themselves only as rarely as they can afford to (diff. levels etc) traffic "costs money", so you want to keep that battened down

Answerer: yes true (Second), actually the root servers mainly replies with other DNS servers as authoritative and rarely replies to requests directly. They are like the glue that holds the DNS system together

Second Answerer: imagine if all the buses decided to talk to each other ALL THE TIME to sort out their schedule instead of having a centralised routine. don't know about buses in your city, but yeah...NOT IN MY TOWN.

Back to the original discussion line…

So, we got that scary new software installed that would allow global blocking of all root servers for any given domain. Can someone see an immediately worrying issue with that? Well, the internet is fragile. You think the root servers can't be hacked? Think again. It happens REGULARLY; so often that the root servers are now multi cluster virtual machines that can be snapshotted and restored. So, compromising those lists by hackers, which will ALL go after that blacklist, trust me. It will become better than hacking the NASA. Gaining access to those lists would mean controlling what people can and cannot view. Imagine the blackmail possibilities!

Discussion continues….

Comment: So essentially they’ll break everything. Yay.
Reply 1: Quite indeed. Not only break, but endanger the single system that holds the internet together.
Reply 2: The internet was built on the principle of neutral openness of information and resource, each censorship sets back that original ethos a bit.

Comment: It’s the content industry’s failure to offer reasonable alternatives to piracy and adopt new business models. They tend to seek limitations and restrictions through DRMs, content restriction than just do business in new ways.

Comment:  Think about how that same industry that lobbied it will be able to also control who criticizes them.

Comment: Consumers want unfettered affordable access to resources. Not controlled by large corporate who are answerable to stakeholders who want $$

Comment: Yes. That’s what scares me. Like China’s firewall. How they restrict their media. Americans used to say that was barbaric, look at this crap now.

Comment: Just shows how little our representatives know about the technology, and how much they’re pocketing from special interest.

Comment: Want a good example? Check the Youtube VEVO/BMG arrangement that grants UMG a blacklist right on any Youtube video.  

Comment: Thanks for the clear explanation! I think their real goal is censorship, not IP rights.

Comment: Really, what comes down to it is simply the US government answering not to the people, for the people, but to profit-seeking shareholders

Comment: Yeah..."piracy is costing us billion of dollars!" Well, keep charging me $15 a movie then, you dicks.

Comment: Yeah, imagine a net w/out Youtube, Vimeo, Wordpress, Blogger, StumbleUpon, DeviantArt, Wikipedia, Grooveshark, OpenSim
Comment (in addition): Twitter, Plurk, Allrecipes, Pandora, Sourceforge, Mozilla

Comment: Imagine a web without all the good stuff, and the only sites you can get to are corporate sites full of ads trying to sell you stuff

Comment: But what I really don't get is the global thing, like it's a US bill. Why are they trying to control the world's internet? Well I guess as I was told, most websites or the content are US based.
Response to above: Most regulatory bodies of the net are based in the US (they DID invent the internet, pretty much). It's the concept that might spread to other countries, that is the threat.

And then came the following additional information, from another plurker:

Okay. I was going to stay out of this, but since it got really interesting, I'm gonna dive in. HERE IS THE OTHER PART OF THE STORY: DNSSEC.

DNSSEC is a set of security improvements to DNS. It provides specifications for end-to-end encryption of domain names, data integrity, etc. In 1990, security researchers discovered fundamental flaws in the architecture of DNS that could lead to malicious users hijacking or disabling the entire internet. Not exaggerating: entire internet, at least the way we know it. This discovery led to the development of DNSSEC, which was designed to protect DNS clients from forged DNS data, such as that created by DNS cache poisoning. Remember that; there'll be a pop quiz.

Anyway, how it works: All answers in DNSSEC are digitally signed. By checking the digital signature, a DNS resolver is able to check if the information is identical (correct and complete) to the information on the authoritative DNS server. DNSSEC is, at this point, fairly widely deployed; many countries have already adopted it. The US government has been sponsoring a "DNSSEC Deployment Initiative" as part of its cyber-security efforts, and it has been deployed on .gov sites since 2008. It is considered a priority.
So let's go back to what CENSORED was saying about how SOPA and PIPA deal with allegedly piratical domain names. They require DNS redirects, right? Okay. This requirement isn't compatible with DNSSEC; it completely undermines efforts to build a secure domain name service. Remember the bit about DNSSEC being designed to protect from forged DNS data? A domain name service designed to protect against forged DNS data can't tell the difference between data forged by malicious attackers and data forged by the government or the internet service provider. The only work-around is to punch holes in the basic security of DNSSEC, which thus leaves the internet itself vulnerable to attack.

(There's another work-around which involves deep packet inspection, but I've plurkjacked enough for today, I think.)

My commentary add-on:
SOPA and PIPA are two dangerous pieces of legislation that threaten the accessibility of the internet as we currently know it, not just in America, but in the world. If you’re not, at this point, aware of what’s going on, please take a little time to check out websites such as http://americancensorship.org/supporters.htmlhttp://sopablackout.org/learnmore/, and http://americancensorship.org/infographic.png.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Love in Two Worlds

So there is a topic which has been brought up several times now on my Facebook newsfeed. Something that baffles many people who have grown up with what society has decided to shove out there as acceptable. How can you tell two different people you love them, in a romantic way, and mean it to both people? Simply put, we all possess the capacity to love multiple people, beyond friendship. The issue isn’t what we’re humanly capable of doing; it’s more so what we’ve decided is acceptable behavior, as well as a bit of human nature.

It’s said that natural behavior through evolution dictates that we should live essentially polyamorous lifestyles, and that monogamy is difficult for some because of this nature. I’d argue against this, primarily because one of the things that separate humans from the rest of nature is our ability to make logic based decisions, as well as form morals and values, not just relying on instinct alone. This is where the primary issue arises though.

It is completely possible to love two people, in the same fashion, and mean it. However, it very rarely works out well. This is, in part, because of the selfish side of our nature. The great majority of us, whether fueled by natural desire or society’s standard, want to be someone’s “one and only” and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all want to feel special and important to the person that we love. We want them to love us in return and only us. Sometimes we want that love to expand into more, by way of having a family. This is all natural ingrained feelings. However, we need to keep in mind that this isn’t always how life works out, nor is it what works for every person.

I’ll mention here that my personal morals and values are such that I wouldn’t personally involve myself with someone on SL were I married in RL, primarily because when I love someone and I’m involved with them, then there is no one else, it’s not an option I allow for myself. I also hold RL steady dating relationships in the same light. I also prefer the same dedication from the one I’m with, as I don’t share well when it comes to the person I’m actually in a relationship with. However, I know that my feelings aren’t shared by all, and for the ones who don’t, hopefully whatever their outlook is, works well for them.

I’d hope most people would have sense enough to agree that love can never be defined in a “one size fits all” definition, nor should one person’s definition be applied to anyone else. Even in religion, you’re supposed to form your own personal relationship with the worshiped figure or figures, in addition to the basic worship of them. Take from that example that once you get past the basics of it, you have to then define the rest for yourself. This is what you do with love.

Having said all of that though, I do not believe that anyone who is in a RL partnership but participating in an SL partnership can ever honestly claim to have a complete RL partnership. SL relationships come about because people have a void that needs to be filled; some want or desire that’s not being met. This can be emotional, sexual, mental, whatever, but something isn’t there. Does that mean it’s not a happy RL partnership? Well, what you or I require to be happy can differ greatly from the next person, so it’s hard to answer that. However, I have enough confidence that I’d be willing to bet money that my assessment is correct.

I believe that these relationships can develop in an emotionally healthy fashion, but that depends greatly on four factors: honesty, communication, respecting boundaries, and not forgetting the reality of the situation when all is said and done. It’s a balancing act that not everyone can do. It takes people with the ability to balance things. Some will participate in these relationships with the full knowledge and blessing of their RL partners, which is great for them. Others will have to keep the two worlds separate, and find the proper balance between the two.

The issue of whether or not it was cheating in some way, on their RL partners… well, it’s another grey area. Some people think that the implied actions via sex animations constitute cheating. Others put that line at achieving RL orgasm via the masturbation that can accompany the sex animations. The line could wait until voice is involved through mediums such as SL, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Gmail Chat, etc. You get the idea without me continuing down the line. Everyone has their personal line, and a few even start it back at flirting. It’s another situation where it’s going to be a different definition for each person.

Due to the nature of SL relationships, the people who choose to not involve their RL partners with their SL relationships have their reasons. Sometimes they’re not in a happy RL partnership, but stuck in a situation they can’t easily get out of. This doesn’t facilitate a situation where they can be open with their RL partner about what they do in SL, especially not if they get into an SL partnership. I’d venture to say that a lot of people in this particular situation wouldn’t normally step outside of their RL relationships if the issues didn’t exist.

For those who fit somewhat into both categories, where their RL partner doesn’t know about their SL lifestyle, but their RL relationships aren’t heading toward separation, they’re in the most scrutinized position. They cause people the most confusion. However, it goes back up to getting a void filled. The statement “what you won’t do, someone else will” is very true. Should it be considered cheating? Well, refer back to my paragraph above on that. I would personally venture to say that as long as reality is kept in place, that the SL situation can help keep the RL relationship from heading down the path to separation.  That might be playing devil’s advocate a bit, but if you consider that if it’s kept to SL, reality stays in place, RL doesn’t get affected by it, and it takes a glaring issue down to nothing… also, no RL kids come out of it, no STDs are brought home, and the only negative potential that I can see in it is hurt feelings if RL finds out and doesn’t accept it, or someone forgets reality in SL.

So how do we summarize this…? Well, we’ll say that each person has to choose what works for them. In addition, keep in mind that what works for you may not work for the next person. Love, happiness, and cheating are two things that have to be defined by each person. There are some common things in each that the great majority will agree upon, but as most know, it’s the details that count. What’s most important is to not find yourself in a relationship that you’re not capable of dealing with.

These are my thoughts on the subject; feel free to share yours below. Thank you for reading. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Love You...

Three simple words, strung together, intended to convey an array of feelings and emotions. Recently, I read an article byline that proclaimed them to be number one on some current list of the biggest lies told in relationships. It amused me enough to stick in my brain, not because I think it’s wrong, but rather, because I think it’s been one of the most abused phrases for many, many years.  We all think we know what it means, you probably have some image or thought of what love involves… chances are, you’re wrong. Maybe not terribly, but the sad truth is that the concept of love, and what it should be, what it should involve, has been so distorted over the centuries that you’d have trouble getting a group of people to agree with each other on the subject. 

Well… that’s almost true. There is one detail that everyone, yes everyone, can agree on…  We all crave it to the core of our very being. 

What is the real definition? I don’t have a complete answer to that. I know that it’s possible to love more than one person, and I know that there are multiple types of love. I also know that love isn’t a “one size fits all” situation, but not because there aren’t common threads between the different types, rather due to the distortion of what we consider love to be today. What do I know about it? Let’s see:

  • Love is not stringing a person along, that’s selfishness. 
  •   Love is not abusive. It does not harm out of anger, or a desire to control another person. 
  • Love is not turning your back on someone because they do something you dislike.
  • Love is not being disloyal in your relationships, be it romantic, family, or friendship. 
  •  Love is not a word meant for the “flavor of the week”.
  • Love is not perfect. 
  •  Love is not a toy, game, or myth.
I could go on, but I need to also mention: 
  • Love is meant to be like a sweet embrace, comforting and peaceful. 
  •  Love is sustaining in its own right. Not in the physical sense, rather in the emotional sense. 
  •  Love is respect, loyalty, supportiveness, appreciation, and honesty. 
  •  Love is unselfish, and often means some sacrifice. 
  •  Love is for friends. 
  •  Love is for family. 
  •  Love is for your romantic partner.
  •  Love is rewarding.
  •  Love is real.
With what most of us understand love to be, it’s not surprising that we crave it so badly. What’s sad is that the “love is not” list is more descriptive of today’s society than the “love is” list. It’s really not all that surprising that people jump in and out of relationships the way they do, when you take things into consideration. 

When I sit back and watch people on SL, whether it’s in game, or more commonly now, on FaceBook, jump in and out of relationships, I notice one common thread. The phrase “I love you”, with whatever additional text they throw in there, seemingly within minutes of them announcing they’re together. Not the worst things in the world, until you see the same person or people announce they’re with someone new, and plastering that same phrase all over each other’s wall posts and in pick tabs. It’s simply not realistic, not with everything that love should really be. 

I’d be willing to accept this “love at first sight” style concept, if it didn’t seem like they were riding the word as if it were a pogo stick, bouncing in and out of relationships within days of each other.  That’s not love, it’s a giant banner over your head that says “I want so badly to know what it feels like to truly be loved, and truly love someone else, that I’m willing to look like a whore who can’t make their mind up while I try to find it.” (there’s burn cream on the table to the left, help yourself *smiles*) 

You want to know what love really feels like? Well, it doesn’t feel like a pogo stick. Pretty much everyone, regardless of the type of love, will have to go through the same process of getting to know someone and putting time and effort into the relationship before real love will begin.

A new mother spends time developing the relationship with her child, during pregnancy, before she truly loves it. A father will go through part of the same process, but a lot of the relationship building happens after birth. Siblings get to know one another, as well as extended family, and build the bond after the birth, as well. The sense of obligation, protection, etc. isn’t love; it’s the barebones nature of many species.

Think about your closest friends, it took time to develop the friendship into what it is today, work and effort. Fights happen, but they make things stronger. Respect must exist in friendship, as with any relationship, and trust is also of extreme importance. Love doesn’t happen overnight here either, it develops from common interests and bonding, from proving one’s self to be a “good friend”, and then, through the bonding process, love develops. This kind of love can range from simple to something that strongly resembles the familial love mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Those warm and fuzzy feelings you have about your new romantic relationship, that’s the euphoria that comes with having someone show interest in you, not because they’re obligated to, but because they want to. Those feelings are the stepping stones to the real relationship. It’s important to note that those feelings are not love. They’re lust, wonderment, amazement, excitement, and probably a few other things… but they’re not love. Enjoy the ride, but don’t let yourself get caught up in the moment to the extent that confusion sets in. Watch things grow, tend to the new bud, and if it doesn’t start to wither away, you might get to watch it bloom into what you’ve been chasing, love.

Take this blog post however you want, comment below if you choose to… but if you made it this far, you may as well take a few minutes to process what you read. Love exists, it’s such an exquisite thing that all humans crave it, yet it’s so often treated no better than a jacket, tossed wherever it lands, and picked back up when we need warmth. Start appreciating it for the gift that it is, and it might open a whole new world out there for you. Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Internet Gangstas... they're gonna email a cap right in yo ass!

Back in 1996 I was introduced to the social side of the internet, via chat rooms on the formerly popular AOL internet program. Boy what a world that opened up… I read some things I’d never heard in my 16 years of life, and a few things that I hadn’t heard since elementary school. I also learned about a whole new set of “people classifications” so to speak. The one that grabs the most notice in the virtual world is the Internet Gangsta. Why, you ask? Well, it depends on which side you want to look at it from.

How do you identify an internet gangsta from the rest of the group? Simply really… they’re the ones with typically short fuses who are known to toss threats around like candy. Anything from telling someone they’re going to kick their ass, to the more extreme threats of taking the issue to real life. Things are often extreme with them more than they’re relaxed, and minor infractions are seen as major offenses when deemed to be against them. They usually have a small group of people who encourage the behavior, and also make attempts to emulate the same tactics. By now, if you’ve spent any time in social settings on the internet, you’re probably able to get a picture of what type of person I’m talking about… if no picture comes to mind, you may need to grab a mirror.

So back to answering the original question of Why?  Well, if you’re one of those who support the behavior, you’re going to say, Why not? You don’t see anything wrong with it; you think that it’s fun as well as funny. You probably go to sleep at night thinking about who your next target is. It’s a side thought, even when there are other things going on. It helps your world go ‘round.

The ones who are targeted often feel compelled to respond back to the verbal or written assault, as they feel like they have to defend themselves. They don’t like the internet gangstas, wouldn’t dream of acting out as if they were one, but often end up looking just as bad in the end. Not of their own fault so much, as it’s natural to want to defend one’s self and one’s honor.  Rather, because they were unable to, at some point, decide the venture was pointless and just walk away from it. It’s hard to fault the ‘victim’ in the situation, so they often get a pass… unless a pattern develops, at which time a friend or two of the ‘victim’ might step in and offer some sound advice.

Now we move onto the other primary group, who we’ll call the bystanders. The bystanders are the average social network user. They’re the ones who sit back and survey the interactions between internet gangstas and their victims. They’re the people who shake their heads at the ‘gangstas’ and try to advise the ‘victims’. Rarely do they become victims themselves, because they see the ‘gangstas’ for what they really are.

What are they? Well, I guess that’s what this blog entry is boiling down to… They’re bullies, only more pitiful. What else can you call someone who is so miserable with their real lives that they have nothing better to do than sit behind a computer and spew useless threats of physical harm which they’ll never carry out beyond their dreams. They talk about their attitudes, how dangerous they are, what method they’ll use to cause physical harm. It could be anything from a simple punch/knockout scenario, to the more extreme homicidal threat. In my opinion, the bigger the threat they suggest themselves to be, the bigger the chance they’re deflecting their level of misery with themselves and their lives. A less common, but just as legitimate explanation for the behavior would be that they were bullied when they were growing up, and they’re expressing their anger over that online, where they feel the chance of repercussions are essentially nonexistent. Other explanations do exist, but are even less common than the one I just briefly mentioned, but they all come back to the same thing in the end.

So what might be the proper way to deal with these ‘gangstas’? Not reacting to them is usually the best start. Make use of the mute button, if you feel like you’re going to have trouble not reacting. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that it can be fun to instigate one of these types to react, as they’re typically much too easy to get response from, it’s not always worth it. The best policy is to ignore the dramatics and go on about your business, and leave them sitting there with their little clique and their misery. 

Got thoughts or opinions to add? Go for it, make use of the comment box below, just don’t be abusive.

Until the next time… 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bad Business...

As a consumer, I often find myself with the outsider’s perspective on things like business ethics, and what seems to make one business succeed where the others have failed. I also have the freedom to my opinion on what makes good business practice, from a consumer’s position.

There’s one thing that will always work out in the favor of the consumer… competition between businesses. Why does this work in the favor of the customer? Simply put, the product that’s presented to us needs to be more appealing than the competition’s. There needs to be something there that makes us sit back and say “Yes, this one is better than that one, and this is the one that will get my money.” It’s important and necessary to have this available, it’s nearly relatable to a “survival of the fittest” effect, where only the best will thrive and the rest will fall to the wayside.

What happens for the consumer when there is no competition? A higher chance of us being presented with a lesser product, and the choice of use it or don’t. There’s nothing that pushes the creator to present us with something that works, at a fair price, and we’re left with the simple choice of use it or don’t. Not a very appealing prospect, is it?

Let’s take this further… What happens when you have this product that is decent, has been selling with no real competition, but has hit a point where there are people who aren’t satisfied with the changes have been made and decide to get back to basics with a product of their own? It means that the product that was already in existence should recognize that they have a competitor and might need to look at what caused the former customer to become competition. For the consumer, it means they have a new option to consider and possibly test out.

Let’s take a real life example for perspective, one most people can relate to. Coca Cola and Pepsi are two major corporations; they have coexisted for many years doing exactly what we, as consumers, would expect them to do. They run their businesses with one primary goal: Make the consumer feel that their company is the better one to spend their money with. They try different tactics in advertising, in product development, in consumer relations. 

What don’t these two powerhouses do? Try and run each other out of town. Why? Because it doesn’t look good to the consumer, those people who spend the money that keeps those businesses from going under. They don’t sit there and say “If you consume their product, you’re not allowed to consume ours.” That would be ridiculous, bad “PR” if you will. 

What we know to be reality is that some people prefer one over the other, while others aren’t particular and either will do. Either way, these companies allow for competition, because it’s healthy for business. It says they’re not scared of the competition, because they’re secure enough that their product will not fall to its proverbial knees under the weight of the opposition. 

What does all this have to do with SL, you ask? Well, simply put, there’s a business in SL that has decided that the best tactic to keep the lindens coming in is to run off the competition, rather than welcome the challenge. It’s not something that’s life altering, but because people’s money is being played with, so to speak, it is worth mentioning the situation in hopes that someone who can make a difference will pay attention to something other than the current “cash out” rate on the Linden exchange and recognize that there will be nothing to cash out if they stay on the same track they’re on now. Slow your damned roll and realize that your product is capable of holding its own against a competitor, if you’d put your priorities in the right order.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m merely a consumer with an opinion.