Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You're a Customer, Not the Resident of a Dictatorship

I tend to keep Blithe away from political issues, but this is something that really matters to all of us. It occurred to me today after a discussion in a Facebook post by Petr Hastings-Vanbeeck that our Second Life mindset may be helping perpetuate Linden Lab's lack of involvement in helping stop the extortion, theft, and harassment by criminals inworld. SL is, by nature, immersive. It draws us in so deeply that we become our avatars, and that's what helps us create businesses, become celebrities, fall in love, and create the stunning environment we've created throughout the grid. 

Sociology in Second Life is intriguing. We've created an incredible city. However, we really lack something essential to any society. We lack a criminal justice system. There is no possible way for us to police someone who violates laws that are in place throughout the real world to protect people. We can't hire police to arrest those who steal, put them on trial and lock them jail. It just can't happen. For this, we depend on Linden Lab.

Here's where our mindset fails us. We see ourselves as residents of Second Life, and Linden Lab as our government. Live Help is our police department and our police department sends us to the courtroom: Abuse Reports. The Abuse Report system is a known failure. Criminals who extort repeatedly, copybot, harass, steal, and grief are given a 4 day suspension, then allowed back in to do it all again while individuals who are victims are perma-banned or ignored. Our government knows how the criminals are committing the crimes and doesn't take steps to eliminate those means. We feel frustrated and paranoid because we are subject to a dictatorship that doesn't care what is happening to it's citizens.

But, what if we took a step back and really looked at our situation? You see, Second Life is not a life, it's a creation of a corporation. We are customers of that corporation. They are not our government, they are the business providing a service to clients. Out here in real life, corporations are subject to laws designed to protect the consumer. In Petr's post, I referred to a case involving a woman who spilled McDonalds coffee in her lap, resulting in massive burns. She received a huge settlement. The settlement was based on the fact that McDonalds knew their coffee was too hot, yet refused to lower the temperature, resulting in damages to a customer. Linden Lab knows their coffee is too hot and their customers are being burnt. 

We don't have the tools to police Second Life, but the corporation that provides the service does. If we approach the corporation through real life means, we're more likely to get their attention than we are through worthless Abuse Reports and calls to ineffective Live Help. Promote this petition. Share with your friends. Blog it. Take control. You're a customer, not the resident of a dictatorship. You don't have to remain a victim.

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