I have seen the problem and the problem is us...
One of my very favorite bloggers is Inara Pey partly because she is intelligent and articulate but also because she has always been very kind to me. If you don't have Inara's blog on your regular rotation of important SL writing, please follow this link and add her to your blog reader. Thank you.
Today Inara wrote about an issue tossed around in the blogosphere a lot lately -- communication between Linden Lab and the users of Second Life. Like many, she takes the position that shouting from the rooftops that the company behind Second Life is a malicious entity is just plain ridiculous. I have to agree with her wholeheartedly. Linden Lab is a company made up of individuals and to suggest that the company is evil is sort of silly, isn't it?
I was not around in the early days of Second Life but I did read Hamlet Au's book which describes some of the early conflicts between users and Linden Lab. Over the years I have seen first hand many of the conflicts. It seems like the relationship between SL users and the Lab has been a bit broken since the beginning. Lately I have noticed a change in the public discourse and I wonder if I am seeing this clearly or not.
During the trademark usage conflict I don't remember bloggers arguing with each other about the frustration expressed about the policy change. When LL laid off a large number of staff and people questioned the future of SL I don't remember users turning on each other. When LL increased prices for educational and non profit groups I don't remember vitriol aimed at people who were upset with the company.
Certainly during each of these conflicts, and many others I have not mentioned, there were ugly words directed at Linden Lab. I remember expressing the belief LL makes business choices and sometimes people have to put on their big kid panties and grow up. I also remember being chastised on Twitter for stating such an opinion during the Open Space fiasco. So the back and forth, pointed discussion and disagreements have always existed and have shown up all over social media and on blogs.
What I am seeing lately is a new level of beating each other up. A recent "naming and shaming" in the fashion community comes to mind. There have been twitter conversations, blog posts and podcasts where it feels like we are turning on each other in frustration. Overall, I firmly believe we all need to do a better job listening and responding respectfully to people with whom we have disagreements.
Still, I wonder when we decided to define the problem as each other?
Like Inara, I look to Linden Lab to take a leadership position and begin a productive dialog to heal the wounds that threaten our community.