3 of 365. Thoughts About Hive Mind in Second Life

Yesterday there was an event called One Billion Rising across the world, with a large party occurring on four sims in Second Life.  You can read more about it here and here.  This dance party was intended to bring together women and their allies in the fight against violence against women.  

When I first heard about the event I was confused. It was impossible for me to connect women dancing with real world impacts that would stop a rape or maybe prevent a young girl from subjugating herself to her controlling boyfriend, for example.  I honestly could not wrap my head around the concept.  After the confusion came anger and then disgust.  Rather than explain my thought process I will link you to a post by Whisky because her post sums up my objections to the concept.  Please read the comments as well because when you do you will see that lots of people chimed in to support the "Unpopular Opinion."

With great fear in my heart I questioned One Billion Rising on plurk a few days ago. Some of the event organizers are on my timeline and I did not want to offend, but I did want to understand how a bunch of people dancing does anything other than make them feel good.  The conversation was civil but not enlightening.  

What I am thinking about this morning is this -- what happened to me?  I never used to shy away from debate. I was never afraid to state my opinions and stand up to those who disagreed with me. Over the past year I have either mellowed or my introverted nature combined with the experience of being cyberbullied in SL have turned me into a shadow of the woman I am.  

Why did I not blog my critical thoughts about One Billion Rising?  Why was my plurk on the subject so timid?  Why have I not explained why I pulled back from Art Screamer?  Why have I not composed the post about why I think the LEA is a terrible influence in the SL art world.  


It is not because I can't defend my positions on these topics. I can and do in private.  I have not spoken up because I have become afraid to speak my truth to the SL world.  

Over the years I have seen what happens to people who express ideas outside the main. They are ostracized, labeled wackadoodles,.  They are kicked out of groups and uninvited to parties.  Often these brave people are the subject of malicious gossip and on occasion pointed and personal Shopping Cart Disco Secrets show up on Sunday mornings.

I want to be me again. I want to speak my mind.  


Whiskey Monday said...

Please do.

If you don't, the terrorists have won.

Saffia Widdershins said...

I am all for debate, and I hope that I will always debate calmly, rationally and with courtesy.

But I have the strongest possible objections as being labelled as a terrorist because I am willing to engage in debate for something I have done.

Let us have a calm, rational discussion about this issue. Let us not begin it by throwing emotive words like "terrorist" around.

Whiskey, I know what terrorism is. I have been the target of grenades as a child. I have had a dear friend blown apart in a shopping street in London by terrorists.

Chestnut, I really want to discuss this issue - as I tried to do on your plurk. But the use of this word to define the discussion is simply making me too angry to do it here. And I'm sorry that debate has been closed down, for me, before it even begins.

Whiskey Monday said...

Whoa, wow, Saffia. You just went from zero to sixty in no time.

It's a joke, a saying. "The terrorists have won" was not directed at anyone. Certainly not you.

I was simply stating how hopeful I am that Ches will again voice her opinions.

The leap to naming you a terrorist is over a chasm so deep I can't even imagine it.

Rogue Braveheart said...

The TRUTH is; many who claim to promote tolerance, equality and freedom from oppression, are the most intolerant and persecuting of all. They viciously attack anyone who doesn't share their ideas of what the world (real or virtual) should be like. They don't want debate. They only want their own Liberal Fascist dream.

Chestnut Rau said...

Quite clearly, Whiskey was joking around.

To suggest otherwise feels to me like a diversionary tactic to shut down the conversation.

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

Nobody... I repeat NOBODY will ever shut down any conversation I have with my cat.

She is a happy little fuzzy pretty kitty, and I have every right to tell her that.



PS: Don't make me dance to raise awareness of your attempt to shut down this conversation, YOU TERRORIST!

Botgirl Questi said...

Chestnut, I have the opposite question in my mind. I wonder why I feel the need to blast my controversial opinons out on the internet.

Controversy on the internet is almost always howling at the moon, at least from the standpoint of impacting the world outside of our opinionated minds. On a personal level, I understand that it can feel empowering "speak one's truth." It can also be useful to give comfort to those who feel marginalized or under attack. But maybe we should learn how to stop letting our emotional state be influenced by the opinions of a few strangers on social networks.

The Duty Calls comic sums of my view on both events like One Billion Rising and the controversy that surrounds them. There is a vast difference between doing something and talking about it. And also between action that has the look and feel of consequence, and work that actually make a substantive difference.

I have no idea which category One Billion Rising will end up falling into. Hopefully it will serve to keep the issue alive in the mind of the public and foster political, social and personal action that reduces violence against women.

Chestnut Rau said...

BG you always challenge in the very best way.

I agree with you there is NO need to blast every opinion across the internet. I also think there is a difference between engaging in controversy and contributing to an ongoing conversation.

For years I contributed to the SL conversation and then for reasons I am still trying to figure out I went into radio silence.

I think a healthy community should engage in conversation about the issues of the day. Everyone should be encouraged to chime in and via an open dialog people learn from each other.

Lindal Kidd said...

Good for you, Ches!

I asked myself the same question, when I first heard about the OBR thing. "How can a bunch of people saying they are against violence do anything to STOP the violence?"

Me, I stop violence against me by being prepared for it. Anyone who offers me violence had better manage to do unto me, before I do unto him.

And you know what? I chickened out too, and didn't blog about my philosphical opposidity to the OBR approach. Hurray for you, for speaking your mind!

michelehyacinth said...

While I value everyone's comments here, @Botgirl, you hit the nail on the head for me. And I do believe that language is important. There's a saying: a smart person knows what to say; a wise person knows when and how to say it. I struggle with that second part of the phrase, which is why I usually go into indirect rants on twitter. Even now there is a great deal I would say on both sides of this discussion but I am holding back for fear of someone feeling attacked by what can come across as bluntness. Great great post @Chestnut.

Chestnut Rau said...

I guess I don't understand Michele.

I think it is far better to be direct, open and honest about our thoughts. There is no need to attack or be blunt and honest opinions need not be personalized.

I would much rather a direct conversation than passive aggressive vaguery.

carrielexington said...

Thinking critically, asking questions and not taking things at face value are important contributions to make. I'm sure, already that by people like you and Whiskey giving voice to these questions, it has got a lot of people really thinking about how they are going to contribute to ending violence against women in their own lives or communities.

I know it is easier said than done,but remember that if others take your questioning personally, that is up to them to figure out and not you.

Dale Innis said...

I don't know, wouldn't it be even sadder if when we expressed strong opinions on controversial subjects, there were never any consequences?

If people react, at least it means that they care!

I'd be kind of depressed if people just thought "oh, yeah, that Dale says some weird stuff, but as long as he's still useful as a scripter who really cares"? :)

I decided to express an opinion on the One Billion Rising thing, more or less the opposite of yours I think :), knowing that there would probably be negative reactions of various kinds, but judging that I cared enough about it to deal with them.

There are many times a week (day? hour?) where I see something on the web that I could express an opinion on, but think "meh, life is too short" exactly because expression always has consequences; so you have to choose your threads.

But having chosen, get in there and express away. :) And as someone said, if other people react negatively, that's their issue, not yours...

Chestnut Rau said...

Thanks Dale.

I agree with you. We share our ideas in the hope we will be heard. What saddens me is the real issues at hand so often get lost in the noise of unnecessary interpersonal conflict.

What happened to the art of debate where alternative points of view are considered and valued?

To my original point -- when did I allow vague, passive aggressive blog posts by people I respect turn me into someone who is afraid to speak?

Ash Qin said...

A terrorist..? What the hell is wrong with you people?

Marx Dudek said...


IT'S A HUMOROUS MEME. AND AN OLD ONE. It came into being after the result of repeated propaganda by the Bush Administration in an attempt to keep Americans afraid and paranoid enough to agree to whatever the Administration wanted to do.

Invade Iraq without provocation based on deliberate lies, for example.

"If [X] [happens/doesn't happen], then the terrorists have won." Or an absurd image or sign posted to a site like Flickr, with "The Terrorists Have Won" as the punch line. Please see below.





Everyone off the cross now. Someone can make better use of the wood.

Marx Dudek said...

(On the other hand, please feel free to be terribly offended by the glaring grammatical errors in my previous comment.)

LeeHere Absent said...

"I want to be me again. I want to speak my mind."

I hope you do. I'm extremely interested to hear why you "think the LEA is a terrible influence in the SL art world."

And given your posted concerns, please let me hasten to add that I write this comment in a tone of gentle and genuine curiosity.

Thank you.

- Lee

Chestnut Rau said...

Leehere thanks for your comment. I am pretty sure I won't be writing about LEA any time soon, given the reaction to this post today.

I am more than happy to talk with you privately about the LEA so feel free to message me in SL or find me on gtalk or skype.

Ash Qin said...


It's a convenient excuse; hence, cool story, bro.

Marx Dudek said...

Ash Qin: An excuse for what? An excuse for encouraging a good blogger not to shut herself up and shut herself off from blogging about what she's passionate about because of the passive-aggressive army of narcissists who seem to attract themselves to SL like moths to a bug lamp?

Because that's exactly what's happened. That's the context. The context was Ches feeling like she had to shut herself down because people kept attacking her. Thus Whiskey's response.

*beating my head into the wall until unconscious*

Marx Dudek said...

(And people wonder why I don't stick my head into Second Life so much anymore.)


Quan Lavender said...

Thank you for expressing that, Chestnut. I experienced that myself again and again. Most bloggers shut shut up instead of expressing unpopular opinions. My last experience: Just the announcement of an interview with the widely hated artist SaveMe Oh lead to the fact that my blog has been removed from blogrolls. Nobody seems to be open at least to hear different opinions. SL sadly has a very unhealthy climate of - to say it nice - non democracy! Please let us all be more couraged, dear fellow bloggers!

Pep said...

Go girls!

Pep (loves the company of intelligent women!)

PS It's just a shame there are so few of you around.

PPS And I feel guilty if I try to occupy your free time by encouraging you to express yourselves more.

Bo Tiger said...

I am mystified by some of the comments made here. The OBR event was made to open the eyes of the public to an ongoing issue of volence made against women and girls. Undoubtedly the chances of stopping such violence in it's track is beyond the scope of protesters but the point is clear to me and millions of others who partcipated. The appauling treatment of another human being by the thugs of the World; who deserve nothing more than to be cast off the face of the planet are neither wanted nor supported by their behaviour or ideas. The fact of participating in such events from my perspective is in support of those who are undergoing or have undergone a terrible ordeal by the hands of these sick Individulas. Sure men are violated against too...no one is saying otherwise but men have always taken violence throughout history to another level. Personally I hate all violence (of any sort) and as a decent human being will not tolerate nor condone such acts of barbaric behaviour.
Bo Tiger

Chestnut Rau said...

Quan I am stunned that announcing you plan to talk to SaveMe resulted in people removing you from their blogrolls. How strange.

Which reminds me I need to add an updated blogroll to this blog soon. When I do yours will be there.

Garnet Psaltery said...

Marx - Saffia and I live in England. I didn't know about 'the terrorists have won' being a joke/meme, and it appears she did not either.

savemeoh said...


Aria E Appleford said...

late to the conversation - perhaps a different way of looking at it. I took the One Billion Rising not as THE answer for the very serious topic they were addressing but only as "in addition to." There are many people who feel passionately about different issues but feel powerless to do anything. Raising awareness has to go hand in hand with any effort. It is not the REAL work but not many of us are qualified to work with survivors of abuse and don't have the money we would need to do that in a meaningful way (travel perhaps). So first of all I did not see it as people doing anything more that raising awareness. The second thing, I took it as women standing up and celebrating they are women and that together we are powerful - much like the take back the night marches etc. I think there was some possibility of people, feeling good, and wanting to get more involved and perhaps donate monies and there were directions to those (at least on the RL sites).

As to the bigger question of not speaking out - it does cost and I think, being human, we get to the point where we weigh those costs against what will we accomplish by speaking out. Sadly human beings, often feel threatened by different opinions and when they do they either shut down or they attack the other person instead of dealing with the topic and being open to new ideas. It doesn't mean you have to accept the new ideas ... just be willing to hear them out, consider them, and make your own decision. We should welcome that ... but we don't. I know it has cost me here but I am used to it in RL as well and do not know how to be any different. Perhaps the answer is for us to be more supportive of one another as women particularly. One thing I find helps is to look at the intent behind the words. Damn we make mistakes with our words and actions at times ... but what was the intent? You will find few people actually intend to offend. Thanks for the post Chestnut :). (bliss windlow in case it does not show up in the posting)