So I found out from a snarky tweet from Fatty Mariner in response to my blog the other day (prompted by his own endless, hugely graphic self-pitying chronicles) that Chestnut Rau has cancer. That is, not the avatar, but the real person.
And that's just it. The avatar may be a window to the soul, but it's not a substitute for the warm body. Nobody should have to go through the fear and pain of cancer, and I wish this stranger on the Internet, who I saw once at a conference at a hotel, the very best in struggling with this challenge. I know she'll beat it. She's a spunky little gal and cute as a button. She has loads of friends, a family, kids, and fortunately she had a wonderful trip to Paris recently with her daughter as her sweet-16 birthday gift, before she got this scary diagnosis -- so there's that to be grateful for.
Nobody wishes even their worst enemy something painful in real life (or they shouldn't, although SL creeps are capable even of this), and I sure don't, and Chestnut Rau isn't even an enemy, but somebody I merely once called a bully, because she was trying to somehow shame me into silence regarding my legitimate criticism for her RL and SL choices. Well, all that's going to seem long ago and far away in another galaxy to her very soon, if it isn't already, and it doesn't matter what I think.
As for those people who externalize their ailments and depressions and manifest their Aspie syndromes and such in blogs, I reserve a special place in my blogging hell. But somebody struggling with something really awful and difficult -- like Esbee Linden did for a time -- well, I just turn away. I'm a stranger on the Internet, where there are really no *good* Samaritans. I do think that the nurse giving the advice to Chestnut not to read the Internet about all sorts of symptoms and prognoses and medications and experiments and doctors could extend that to include social media. To say that getting sympathy from strangers on the Internet is to be avoided, too. Certainly it's of limited value, like apricot pit extract. I sure the Plurkettes will disagree. Let them!
For my troubles in blogging hell, I was rewarded with a post where the Rust-Bucketed One wrote that a Very Kind Lady bought him a pillow. I think -- unless it's a nurse -- that may be one of the very, very VERY rare mentions of The Wifey. If so, it's like mining a rare in a game, you know? I marvel at how anyone struggling with massive dieting and job changes and other life crises could go month after month, year after year, and never once say that his faithful help-mate beside him was an awfully good sport. But there it is, Aspberger's as not just what it is, but a cultural setting of our time...
Some idiot named The Australian who has posted under other names here before and is therefore blocked (you have to have your authentic SL name here or a valid RL or blogger's name to post)posted a comment and acted as if this post about the broken elbow was something other than it was -- something about... Mormons? -- merely an attempt to say, hey, everybody has a story. Some of the stories are worse than others. Most people don't seek pity on the Internet from strangers -- or take pictures of their grisly horrid stitches, you know? (where is my eye bleach!) And even if they do, Good God on a crutch, they mention their partners every now and then, at least as much as their cats!!!
So Fatty tweets to Chestnut -- this is his idea of a sympathy card! -- "When will @prokofy write about the time her son got lymphoma while she was contracting in Buttcrackistan." (Fatty's idea of a sympathy post is to tell the poor Chestnut that she can lean on him, but not on That Side. The side where his Drama is taking place -- complete with a rigged up electronic device for remote Internet cast-signing. Look, I'm not making this stuff up.)
Well, guess what. I haven't contracted in Buttcrackistan for any length of time and in general haven't traveled much in the last decade, mainly because I have had to deal with things that were far more serious than a broken elbow. But I don't feel that I need to "share" on the Internet, or seek sympathy from strangers, because, ultimately they don't provide it, and it's just a spectacle.
I sometimes think how interesting it is -- curious, really -- that all the people who are my best friends in real life aren't on the Internet. Some of them are even old-school anti-Internet -- I have one close old friend who calls himself a "postalist" because he believes in sending postcards and letters the old-fashioned way.
The people I have lunch with every week at our favourite restaurant; the people whose homes I visit; the people I talk to on the phone every day; the people I even talk to on email regularly, even -- none of these people are on Twitter or Facebook, except possibly symbolically. None of them have anything remotely to do with virtuality or gaming. The people who are my co-workers or colleagues in the field I see all the time around town, the UN, at meetings, etc. -- none of them are on anything remotely electronic tethered to me -- except *maybe* Linked-in -- and then they never talk on there, sometimes indicating that it isn't safe to talk on there, it may get hacked.
The people close by I know who have had cancer or AIDS or heart attacks or who have died, who I have visited in the hospital or called or whose hands I have held, well, they are all in real life. They aren't on the Internet! Who would want them out there at a time like this!
I used to have this good friend in The Sims Online -- maybe a few of you might remember her. She liked to tell stories -- fascinating ones. Not only was she having an affair with Will Wright on their avatars (but he wasn't going to leave his then-wife for her then), she was a policewoman, and she happened to respond to an accident call and find that it was her own grandfather, and he died! And not only that, she had developed throat cancer -- and she had such a lovely singing voice! You couldn't hear it in The Sims -- there wasn't voice on there -- but what a shame! And then I think her little son fell victim to a child predator, her husband beat her and i think there was some more stuff, I forget. I don't know at what point my suspension of disbelief crashed. Was it the throat cancer? I decided it was just a narrative. You could still be friends with someone online if they just had a narrative, right? It didn't haven't to be a *true* narrative. They needed it, for some reason and you could be sympathetic, no? When that person moved to Second Life from TSO with all of us, I didn't keep up. Maybe because SL is more real. Narratives don't stand up as well, when you don't have soothing routines like preserves and gnomes and greening up and the balloons...
Many people swear by the Internet, to get them through all kinds of terrible things. The other day, SHamlet had something posted from a girl who had gained help from adults in SL when she was a teenager dealing with all kinds of problems including an alcoholic father. I wish we could have just gotten him locked up in real life rather than have her spend all those hours confiding her problems to strangers who might have abused her on SL. People *think* the Internet is a great companion, but I've seen people leave it in a heartbeat when they find a better companion in real life!
Isn't it terrible? Broken elbows and surgery and painful rehabilitation -- called "torture" even? And cancer and chemo to face? But I'll tell you something far worse -- my son's friend's girlfriend's cousin was just killed by a drunk driver in a car crash. Only 19 years old. Can you imagine what those parents are going through right now?! Doesn't that put your problem in perspective? Can you see why mandatory lock-up of alcoholics is something I'm really favouring lately, the longer the better? And I mean not just for drunk driving, but for that slow child cruelty they engage in like with that poor girl who had to hide in SL for years as a teen on SHamlet's blog. And so many others.
The other day my daughter was upset -- one minute a girl she didn't know very well was turning around in math class and asking her for the math homework, and she was staring at her hair in front of her -- and four hours later she was dead, apparently of a drug overdose. The Facebook lit up, see. Her Twitter talked about wanting to die and Lady Gaga or something. Can you imagine how her mother is feeling right now?
And then there's those 300 people who were killed just in one day in Aleppo! Did you care about them? No you didn't!
And frankly, I don't blame you. And while you should protest or try to do what you can to get the world's powers to act or donate to Doctors Without Borders to try to alleviate lives, your first obligation is to those nearby, to that more mundane feat of taking care of those right in front of you in real life, maybe not even on Facebook!