Sometimes Apathy Works

I’ve been visiting the newly-independent-from-Linden Lab blog of Hamlet Au (formerly Hamlet Linden) to see if some of the issues I’ve discussed (OGLE and trademark violations) will finally get some real attention. Nothing so far. But I did find his entry, “Unimpeachable Offense”, interesting. The comments as well.

The post concerns the efforts of at least one resident of Second Life to plunk a sign on some virtual land, put the land up for sale at extortionist prices, and then wait for outraged people to fork over the dough. Rinse and repeat. A lot. Oh, it helps to know that the sign read “Support Our Troops: Impeach Bush”.

I, of course, saw many of the forum threads that sprouted in anger, including one in which a resident posted a conversation hoping to garner (my) sympathy. Only the angry resident sounded like a jerk and the “extortionist” sounded polite and level-headed. I couldn’t help but side with him.

Besides, I knew that in the end the best way to deal with the situation was to ignore it. Funny how so many people haven’t figured that one out. Including Hamlet. From the post (Link):

For what would happen if Profane’s signs had said instead, for example, “Buy Cialis on the Web!” or “Eat at McDonalds!”, or any number of other real world advertisements or statements that most Residents would consider noxious 3D Spam? Surely the same thing: a flurry of outrage, scattershot protest, and after the initial storm, nothing.

Early on, I had thought that Residents would resist the intrusion of real life ads and other forms of commerce into Second Life, collectively rising up against any intrusion that impeded the purity of their grass roots imagination. But considering the story of Jedidiah Profane, I now think that was naive.

Well, it looks like Hamlet really has left virtual utopia. But props to Linden Lab for considering the long-term implications of this issue. In the end, it’s all of us who control what we see and hear … sometimes by simply not acknowledging its existence. Advertising included.

Now if only Linden Lab was as far-sighted with regard to issues of trademark violation. By the way, I wonder how many “Impeach Bush” sign protesters are doing the exact same thing by using real trademarks on their virtual products. Sometimes hypocrisy works too (in the short term at least).