Crap Mariner's advertising machinima for SL9B -- with the Grim Reaper.
Saffia Widdershins of PrimPerfect is doing a good deed and organizing SL9B, since the Lindens aren't doing it themselves this year, in preparation for weening us from them for...for whatever it is they are doing as the Next Step with new products or even closing this project we've all worked on for 7 or 8 years.
But why on earth she let the soul-poisoned Crap Mariner at this enterprise is beyond me.
Somehow, she's gone ahead and commissioned him to make ads for the event -- or let him manifest his, um, creativity in the spirit of collectivism...or something...and it's really macabre.
He's decided to make an Grim Reaper avatar to play endlessly on the theme that "SL is dying" yuk yuk har har. It is not Halloween, people. If you are trying to inspire people to enter into a community-spirited effort to show SL is *not* dying, this seems like a bad joke. A joke that might have been possible to carry out with a little less blackheartedness and a little more talent. But it flops.
Maybe SL *is* dying -- Crap Mariner has been saying the Doomsday Clock is at five minutes to midnight for the last five years. But it's an awful creepy thing to have for a birthday. Is Saffia counting on the meta-noir-uber-cool hipsters of Second Life to accept this as in fact a metaphor for a picnic of happy people eating noodle salads? Is it supposed to take the internalized fears of the population and externalize them all as "good, clean, fun?"
There's no question that it has gone too far, however, with the latest round that shows Crap as the Grim Reaper describing his build for the SL9B which is...a pile of skulls, looking like the Cambodian genocide. Ugh.
Worse, he points to some of the skulls jokingly and says, referring to Lindens who have been laid off -- "There's Pathfinder...there's Blue..." Ugh.
I don't care for these Lindens, and find Pathfinder particularly cunning and manipulative and Blue a disappointment despite his virtues, but it would never occur to me to somehow simulate their killing and gruesome display of their dead skulls. It's awful. It's sick. It's not funny.
It's Aspberger's syndrome.
I've had more and more evidence lately with various go-arounds particularly on G+ of the awful side of Aspberger's. People tend to describe this disorder from the victim's perspective and sympathetically -- the poor victim cannot socialize properly with others, he doesn't talk, or he doesn't make facial expressions, or he misses social cues, or he feels isolated or whatever.
But the other side of the passive, emotionless, expressionless Aspberger's patient is a wild, vicious emotional firehose of hate. That may not manifest all the time or in all patients, but it does enough of the time and in enough of a pattern to mark. What people don't realize in dealing with Aspberger's, so much is the story told from the victim's perspective, is that there is the flip side of it, this other side of the coin. If the social mechanisms in the human brain are broken, if social cues are missed or socializing language never learned, there's also present the correlation -- at times wildly hateful insanely nasty shit inflicted on people with callous abandon, completely out of proportion to the perceived offense or slight, or even completely irrelevant.
It's like the way Crap became hugely outraged and volatile and rageful over a simple comment on my part that his avatar, in becoming more human (away from its robot stage) was entering the Uncanny Valley, i.e. the point at which robots are not real enough to be acceptable, but too real to be seen as robots -- and therefore become creepy. It was merely a joke, and certainly one he would find funny if he were normal.
But his reaction -- years and years of vicious and vitriolic rage fits, name-calling, slurs, libels and hate -- is completely out of proportion to anything whatsoever. Yet it stands, and we're supposed to be sympathetic.
In the same way Shava Suntzu, a bright, interesting person with lots of knowledge and ability, goes into rage fits over my legitimate criticism of Jacob Appelbaum, and spews unreasonable hatred and false claims on the list Liberationtech until it is censored by the overzealous moderator (I'm not for censoring such speech), and then continues for days on end in a rage, attributing all these nefarious and cunning and malicious motivations to me. I suddenly realized (I had not before) that she must be an Aspberger's sufferer, like Crap, because her reaction was just like Crap's. Then I started seeing this side to a few other Aspberger's patients -- or likely candidates on G+.
Thus Aspberger's becomes a social disease, a disorder of one person's mind and behaviour with consequences in society because others then become the direct victims of this bad behaviour, they then react with further defense or even attacks on their attacker, making the Asperberger's patient feel as if he is unfairly abused, and misunderstood, and unjustly bullied, etc. It's astounding how much Crap and Shava use the term "bullying" for someone just standing up to what is in fact their own initial out-of-proportion nastiness and bullying.
Surely this phenomenon is exacerbated by the Internet!
There is all this hope that virtual worlds will help autism patients who are unable to socialize normally with all the social cues and clues internalized in the child's development that are just broken, either for reasons of genetics or environment or both. And that's encouraging and something we can employ SL for. But there has to be more and it has to be about admitting and publicizing this bad behaviour and working toward curbing it as well.
The Aspberger's syndrome is not new, even if formally discovered in the 1940s. In reading the novels of Kathleen Norris, a writer of the early 19th century who wrote numerous novels about women's lives that provide a treasure-house of cultural information, again and again, we see the character of the thin-skinned, easily offended, haughtily arrogant male who makes life miserable for everyone around him and who never changes his behaviour. He appears sullen and unable to communicate; he bursts out with non-sequiturs -- he is consumed with some invention he is tinkering on or some scientific experient or get-rich-scheme involving a gadget. This type of person frequently becomes an alcoholic or drug abuser. In California, he seems the prototype a century ago of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He is endlessly unhappy and uncomfortable and demanding that others wait on him and absorb all the consequences of his bad behaviour. He can't hold a job, and is always blaming a series of bosses who give him second chances -- they're always at fault, and they tolerate him because he's brilliant. He suspects the worst in everyone, and is paranoid and suspicious and it ends badly, most of the time.
I saw this recently on Facebook with a Russian emigre I know -- he went into a sulking and nasty fit because he and his organization weren't mentioned in a blog post I did -- it was crazy because it wasn't a blog post about those sorts of organizations but was something completely different. It was all out of proportion and unwarranted, and others called him out on it. I defended myself firmly, and he spiralled into a further abusive rage. Having worked with him for years, I know exactly what he suffers from: Aspberger's syndrome. It is not curable. I'm not even sure it is treatable.
Recently, Loren Feldman of 1938 Media had the courage (he always does) to say simply what an asshole Mark Zuckerberg was, for screwing so many people on this IPO stock thing. He simply said that Zuck was unable to shake hands like a man, that his eyes were darting everywhere. "He is definitely on the spectrum," he said, meaning "on the autism spectrum," which is where Aspbergers is located.
We are supposed to have endless sympathy for people suffering from a disorder inherent from their birth, or exacerbated by their environment, and we are to treat this phenomenon as we would, say, cerebral palsy.
The problem, as I point out, is that it is more than a disease that is suffered by one person. It's a social disease that makes others victims -- sometimes on a large scale. Zuckerberg's lack of empathy and lack of social cues is a worldwide phenomenon now. You can say he's a poor little rich boy suffering from having a position "on the spectrum," but we are all victims in the end.
I don't have the answers for this social problem, but I think the first step is reporting on it honestly and admitting honestly the abusive side of Asperbergers. Nobody should have to suffer this kind of abuse under some notion of political correctness. Part of the treatment has to include making the victim aware of the consequences of his actions on others, so that he can prevent further abuse of them -- and then himself in the inevitable cycle of reaction. That can't happen if we are to treat every Aspberger's patient as an entitlement-rich despot who gets to do whatever he wants because he has a diagnosis.
What bothers me about this phenomenon is how much scientific reporting and popular science reporting there is on the disorder that do not reflect the outrageously abusive side of the personality. We're told again and again that the individual is listless or dispassionate or lacking empathy, is silent and awkward, or conversely, overly verbose and monotonous (but never described as abusive), can't communicate normally with social cues, can't socialize, and engages in ritualistic or ordering behaviour, like lining up toys all over the place or memorizing molecular or mathematical information, etc.
What no one is admitting -- or perhaps they are missing -- is the manifestation of pure assholery from quite a few of these individuals -- wildly inappropriate and malicious attacks on the strength of perceived, imagined slights. Sudden bursts of vicious, persistent, burn-their-houses-down behaviour particularly on the Internet. Why does this get a pass?
Years ago, I wrote Philip Linden an email. I pointed out that he had not one, not two, but *three Aspberger's patients running the new-user experience* in the welcome area. This was about two too many, if not three too many. It was unacceptable, whatever our hopes for SL as a vehicle for helping those on the autism spectrum. People with normal abilities had to be served, too. I figured that the insane out-of-touch literalist stuff in the welcome and orientation areas was a function of Aspberger's. Remember that giant spinning *thing* with the all-caps announcement, "F1 IS NOW IN THE CLIENT"? It may still be there. Do you think the average person entering SL *cared* that "F1" -- whatever that was -- was "in the client" -- whatever that was? Der, I know what it was, but so what? Most people entering this virtual world to socialize or learn did not know, and shouldn't have to know.
Or how about that creepy game where you were supposed to jump in a car and drive -- one of the notoriously difficult things of SL, not only due to sim seams but due to physics and script lag -- and then run over and kill bot-rats, who would squish and look like road kill? Whose sick idea was that? Would you come to a virtual world seeking socializing, education, and business if you knew that the first thing you had to do was duck a giant spinning thing overhead telling you something incomprehensible, and then go squish rats dead on a road in a balky vehicle? Did they think SL should only be filled with other Aspberger's patients?
Indeed, it has been, due to the very high incidence of those with disorders "on the spectrum" in computer science, because of the predilection for this type of mind for order, numbers, memorizing long chains of things, etc.
But it's a way of life infecting the rest of us and I think it's time to speak out more about this.