The Nice Police

Normally I don’t address the personal opinions of other bloggers; it’s pointless. Few people are going to change their minds due to someone else’s words, so unless the topic under discussion is intended as an invitation for others to mull, the odds of anything constructive happening are on the low end of the scale and it’s bound to turn into drama. With a capital Llama.

But. Sigh. This post by Sasy Scarborough simply exhausts me. On the surface it’s a logical post. Given the nature of social networking in this day and age, what you post for your friends and followers on [Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Plurk, etc] is going to live with you. If you think you can say something “private” to 100+ followers, you’re an idiot. You cannot expect to be a snark in one place and it have no consequences in other areas of your life. I also agree that the “I have a right to an opinion and I can say whatever I want” Real Housewives of New Jersey attitude that infects many of our broken toys in SL is unprofessional and tedious. Yes, free speech is fantabulous, but it isn’t without its own consequences; you have to be prepared to own the words you put forth and if those words affect your business, your readership, your cause, your friends, etc., then you learn and grow from that and you adjust yourself accordingly. So, in that, Sassy and I are on the same page.

But then, she goes a step further and says this:

Don’t put down the creations or work of others, whether it be a store, a blogger or someone sharing their latest doodle in a public space, those people may also be on your timeline and it is hurtful. Don’t air your grievances with 400+ people you don’t actually know, if you are upset about something that is important to you, talk to people that are also really important to you privately. Don’t share customer interactions in a negative light with all your followers. If you delete the name, the person that is having that interaction with you may also be on your timeline, this may also put off others from purchasing from you, because if there is an issue they just witnessed how you would deal with it.

In my opinion, this “always be nice” nanny attitude is everything that is wrong with the current state of Second Life blogging. Putting aside the incestuous little circles that form between certain design houses, event organizers, and bloggers, the idea that you cannot say something negative because it might hurt someone’s feelings is beyond high school. Restaurant critics don’t give good reviews to bad places just so the chef doesn’t get an owie on his feelings. It’s a grown up world and when you put something forward for profit and for public consumption you should be adult about the fact that some part of the public may not like it.

It doesn’t matter if you say things that are negative or positive so long as what you’re delivering is consistent, constructive and intellectually honest.

There are too many bloggers out there who flutter after designers like disgusting sycophants. They spend hours fitting bad items for dramatically lit photo-shoots so they can be petted with more bad free stuff. Which means consumers get screwed; not only because now they’ve bloated the egos of designers who think they’re good, but because consumers don’t know who to trust for quality evaluation of products.

There is so much bad crap clogging up the grid and the marketplace and the blame for that rests squarely on the fact that for every halfwit who sucks at photoshop, there’s some blogger willing to say they love their stuff. It’s like those horrible off-key musicians who have some witless tramp woo-hooing front and center at all their concerts.

There is a time and a place for the negative and it doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, a designer, or the muffin man. What matters is that you know your audience, understand if you’re being appropriate, and are able to weigh if your purpose is to be constructive as opposed to just blathering juvenile twaddle.

I have had designers lose their minds for pointing out flaws in quality, bad design choices, or simple mistakes. While I’m sure a handful of them would be just that psycho no matter what, a great deal of the reason for such out of proportion responses is because they have been spoon fed laurels for so long that they have come to believe anything less than a stellar review is an attack. You can say ten good things and make one suggested improvement and they see a declaration of war. Why? Because 20 bloggers who got their stuff for free told them how fabulous they were.

Bloggers don’t have to be fangirls; we have plenty of those. We desperately need more critical bloggers and they shouldn’t be put off by the idea that it’s unprofessional or rude to include the negative when it’s needed. Being critical is not the same as being impolite, but those two things seem married in the minds of the SL fashion community.

As for the “don’t post interactions with customers,” view, that’s a personal choice, but personally to me that’s a double standard in Sassy’s logic. If your words have consequences in your social networking, then they have consequences elsewhere, too. If you want to waste two hours of a designers time being a mental case, then you should be prepared for them to post your behavior for the public to evaluate. I personally frown on using avatar names when exposing that sort of thing, but I accept the reasoning of the designers who do it. If we are to be fair, it should be said that part of the reason some designers become desensitized to consumer concerns is because of the whacko customer element that is out there, ruining it for the average consumer. Putting that behavior on display serves a social purpose and reminds everyone that designers often have a lot more to put up with than just collecting L$.

So if you are a store owner, a blogger, or just a person with a following, do the world a favor and weigh the importance of your words on their own merit — forget about people’s feelings. Sure, if you’re saying something hurtful just out of spite, you’re an ass, and if you cross a line, you should be prepared to apologize for it. But if you’re making an honest criticism don’t be crippled by the nanny state mindset. The world needs honesty, not false friendliness.

Personally, I’d rather know where I stand with someone I don’t like than to guess the motives behind the always-say-something-nice marionettes. And I’d rather read the blogs or tweets of someone who is giving me their true feelings, not someone who is marching in the shiny happy people parade just so they don’t rock the boat.

This entry was posted in Fashion SL, Second Life, SL - Shopping, SL - Social Dysfunction. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Nice Police

  1. You just confirmed my choice to do a somewhat critical post about aspects of Vintage fair…..eventually.

    I’ve been lectured about making generalized criticisms of certain designer practices in certain fashion groups and I was like: WTF.
    You are teh awesome.

  2. Erin McConach says:

    Well put!

  3. “There are three ways to ultimate success:
    The first way is to be kind.
    The second way is to be kind.
    The third way is to be kind.” ― Fred Rogers

    And I cannot WAIT for Tuesday!

  4. Rainey says:

    I love you, Salome Strangelove. Yes, I said the L word of which I try to refrain from whilst blogging stuffs ;)

  5. While I agree with a lot of what you have said, I think you might be misinterpreting Sasy there a bit. I’m don’t think she ever says to kiss anyone’s ass or pretend that everyone is awesome, she just comments that publicly putting someone down can hurt their feelings, and frankly, can be unprofessional the way some go about it.

    In fact, Sasy is HIGHLY CRITICAL, I have the IMs to prove it lol! She praises, publicly, when she sees the good, and she critiques privately, when she thinks something could be better. She is one of my go-to people when I need an honest opinion about something I am working on. She doesn’t sugar coat things, but she knows how to be critical in a way the helps, not hurts.

  6. Salome says:

    I don’t know Sassy personally. All I can go by is what she posts. And what she posted was:
    “Don’t put down the creations or work of others, whether it be a store, a blogger or someone sharing their latest doodle in a public space, those people may also be on your timeline and it is hurtful.”

    I took pains to clarify my position to say that that I am not advocating spite for spite’s sake, etc. But a blanket statement saying that people shouldn’t criticize because it’s hurtful makes my teeth hurt. I feel strongly that given the sycophant culture currently in charge of SL fashion, anything that discourages critical blogging should be challenged.

  7. Salome says:

    @ Grace – you’re a fraud. How dare you speak his name!

  8. Hi Salome,

    My post was referring to social networks, I was not discussing blogging or bloggers and their blogposts. That is why I said timeline. Seeing people link to a blog post and calling out a blogger as being ugly or making bad styling choices is cruel, showing a picture from a new release of an item and exclaiming that this design is a waste of feed space, is also cruel. Both have happened.

    As for how I blog, I blog what I like, when I find a fault with something the designer knows about it first, if it is not fixed it is not blogged. I often blog suggestions in how I think something could be better for the customer, and many times that has been changed in future releases, or in some cases changed within hours and repackaged.

    You are right, you don’t know me, but I am chuffed you read me.

    Have a wonderful weekend Salome.

    Sasy Scarborough

  9. Salome says:

    @ Sassy — you’re in the feeds, so of course your posts are going to come up and your name is such that it’s worth paying attention to when they do. I think the confusion, if it exists, lies in the fact that you are somehow drawing a distinction between blogging and social networking as if they are not part of an ongoing presence or conversation. The first line of your post claimed “I am not made for the internet,” and maybe I should have paid better attention to that. Perhaps you were trying to communicate that you don’t use these mediums in the same manner as others. Not everyone uses social networking as merely promotion or fractured communication. For many of us, the social networks we choose are an extension of an overall narrative. I would just as easily say something like “The seams on that don’t look quite right” on a social networking outlet as I would a blog.

    As far as the specific examples you give, I’d have to know the circumstances. Deliberate cruelty really doesn’t serve any purpose and I understand your issue with it, but I do kind of have to roll my eyes at the idea that making a comment on someone’s avatar is “cruel,” regardless of how inappropriate. “Your slider settings are unattractive to me,” might be unnecessary, but “cruel” is a bit of a stretch.

    This is even more eye-rolling when you bring up bad styling choices. When people promote their styling choices, and submit themselves to feeds they are thrusting themselves out for public consumption. If that is the case, then they should also be prepared for some element of the public to not like it. Obviously, that is distinct, in my mind, from someone’s actual physical appearance. I really don’t understand the mindset that says someone is welcome to post their photos all over and submit their sense of style to public feeds, but they then need to be protected from any public criticism. For me, that’s another nice police point of view. If someone is so delicate of nature, they shouldn’t be hoisting themselves into the public eye. Otherwise, they can be a grown up and accept that not everyone is obligated to be nice to them.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but if you’re saying you don’t blog products that have unfixed problems, that is exactly the kind of issue I’m addressing. If something is on sale for public consumption and it has a design/quality issue that doesn’t get fixed even after you’ve brought it to the creator’s attention that’s all the more reason to blog it and make consumers aware of the issue.

    Blogging and social networking, or any method of communication, there is a place for criticism and it shouldn’t be lumped in with words like “unprofessional” just because some people don’t know when to draw a line.

    Cheers.

  10. EnCore Mayne says:

    love reading a mature viewpoint on the SL fashion scene. you are far and away the most intelligent commenter on the scene. watch your back!

  11. Emma says:

    Salome, I agree with you so much… I really do think there’s a huge undercurrent of syncophancy in the SL blogging world, and as for Social Media…well, I only really have experience with Plurk, and on Plurk, the syncophancy is not so much of an undercurrent, but more the only accepted way of interacting (OK, there are exceptions, of course).
    Couldn’t agree more either on the way some creators respond to anything less than having their ego fondled with unconditional adoration.
    Having said that, being critical in way that’s mature and constructive is truly a skill, and a pretty rare one at that… Unfortunately.

  12. Pingback: Salome Says »Blog Archive » Critical Mass

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