Internet Rudeness, Part 2
As I mentioned previously, I recently joined a philosophy club. Nah, it isn't that
stuffy, and it isn't very formal. Pretty much a place where you can chat online with
both regulars and new-comers, but the depth of conversation has the potential of
getting past the weather and into some substance.
Of course, substance can also bring about conflict… segues nicely into today's story…
One day, Chaim arrives at this Philosophy House. He's obviously new here as he's
still decked out in his default attire, white T-shirt and blue jeans. I invite him to pull up
a stump and take a virtual load off his back.
I asked him how he became interested enough in philosophy to want to teleport to this plot
in the virtual space… small talk mostly.
Eventually, I mentioned some of my thoughts on Bonobo apes and commented
that I felt the line between humans and animals is quite fine, and appears to be
little more than a difference in degree and not one of essence.
Chaim then chimed in that the difference between humans and animals is
fundamental and obvious… humans have a soul. At this point, one guy muttered,
"Oh no, here comes a discussion on dualism ", excused himself, and left.
Well, the discussion got worse as this guy was a young earther , who said that
"all evidence points to between 5 and 10 thousand years for the age of the
Earth." Once, I spent a great deal of time going over such evidence and was far
from impressed. It was apparent to me that those who espouse such views have
first come to the conclusion that the Bible is literal, and then shifted around
to find "facts" to support that conclusion.
At this point, I expected the flames to fly. For if this was a public chat
channel, forum, or any other Internet conversation, disagreements of opinion
always degenerate into name-calling and other forms of low-brow verbal violence.
But not here.
The few people in the channel, argued the idea of both a soul and an Earth
still in its infancy. It became pretty evident that this guy was alone in his
ideas in this area, and clearly, the discussion would not be convincing or even
enlightening for either side. I was getting frustrated that we couldn't talk
about something a wee bit more interesting, so when my network connection broke,
I didn't bother returning and just went to bed.
But later, I mused about the civility shown. As I've mentioned before , people are
down-right rude when they are not in front of each other, and I wondered if the
fact that because these avatars did a better job at representing the real human
behind the pixels, perhaps this kept our manners higher.
It also could be the kind of people that hang out at this place and many other factors. So, I've
decided that Second Life will become a personal psychological experiment of sorts.
In mentioning my experience with my sister, she mentioned that she didn't think
people were any nicer in Second Life, for wanting to be different, she created a
very fat-looking avatar, and thought that people treated this avatar just as
poorly as they would any other over-weight person in real-life.
So tonight, I'm going to make a, uhm, chubby avatar and see for myself…
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