Why we hate and fear the BBC

A couple of weeks ago the BBC published a piece about Second Life on their news website. The article itself was a fairly inoffensive statement of fact – in summary “Second Life? People used to talk about that a lot; now, not so much” – but it set off an entirely predictable flurry of indignation around the SL blogosphere. The prize for the most ridiculously hyperbolic comment goes to Hamlet Au at New World Notes:

The BBC’s recent magazine article, “What Happened to Second Life?” … is so incandescently bad, to read it is to feel the entire institution’s credibility undermined.

One can picture tribesmen in the jungle of Myanmar, hunched over their short-wave radio, wondering if they can still trust the BBC’s reports on the Naypyidaw junta after that hatchet job they did on SL.

Why do SL aficionados respond to even mild criticism by foaming at the mouth in a way that makes Leave Britney Alone Guy look like a model of calm and reason? (Not that I haven’t been guilty of this myself once or twice).

I suspect there may be some projective identification going on. Anxiety is generated by the conflict between the desire to express unconscious fantasy through the medium of virtual reality, and the internalised attitude of general society that such activity is not really what one expects of a grown adult; these desires are therefore split off into “bad” internal objects.

A threatening sense of dis-integration may be produced, which, if it cannot be contained within the ego (that is, if the subject is in the paranoid-schizoid position), must be projected into our perceived critics, who, we imagine, are persecuting us because they do not understand the value of our virtual experiences – though in reality it is actually we who cannot fathom why we want to spend time on such apparently pointless activity.

The vehemence of our response is mystifying to those outside the circle, who begin to regard partisans of Second Life with genuine bafflement, and not a little trepidation. Thus the defence creates its own reality, which may be effective in relieving our anxiety (as the conflict is perceived to be between ourselves and “bad” external objects, rather than being intra-psychic), but which sets the stage for a cycle of mutual misunderstanding and hostility.

Anyone who has worked through the depressive position should be able to tolerate the ambiguity related to being a fan of Second Life, both internal (I know it’s a bit silly, but I like it anyhow), and external (other people may think it’s silly, but it doesn’t make them bad). It helps to be honest with oneself about one’s motives for spending time on the grid, and to leave the rationalisation to the Lindens, who, after all, do have a business to run. The truth is that Second Life is like any other pastime; some people are into it, most people aren’t, but that’s cool, and certainly not worth getting all angry about.

10 Responses to Why we hate and fear the BBC

  1. HBA says:

    Huh? A pingback? Go on then, I’ll take a looksee…

    To answer your question why I went all foamy mouth Britney guy, well quite simply for the fun of it. I took a load of crappy crappola from work and transfered it to that instead. Oh, and I like swearing. Really like it. My post has no more depth than a puddle of water and the same amount of validity as your own.

    So cheer up! Look on the bright side! Good old Aunty gave us both something to blog about and fill the emptiness of our lives with one more post. Although mine was, I’m sure you’ll agree, far more sweary. And funnier.

    Oh, and I’ll bite at the end – who are you to say what I should get angry about. I’m guessing there’s a ton of stuff that wouldn’t make me blink but would push your buttons just how you like it. You seem a smart fella doing a clever-sounding post about whatever it is it’s about – don’t end on a dumb note like that. Or at least put some swearing in to drive home the point you’re sneering at me – come on, add some conviction to your sneers man!

  2. Pingback: OTT? Moi? « Backpacking Burro

  3. Ooooo! Damn! I knew I forgot something (sorry – was having fun ranting) I don’t hate the BBC, I actually quite love them. And I certainly don’t fear them – they are far too badly organised to fear :-D

  4. nalates says:

    …I guess it doesn’t matter that the BBC article took a one sided look…

    Interviews the writer made, with a contrary viewpoint, were not mentioned or that the data was 2 years old or that the intellectual honesty of considering the other side of the viewpoint was skipped…

    BBC is not the icon of reporting it once was.

  5. I don’t think the SL piece can reflect on the BBC – it’s only a silly online magazine filler for a silly online magazine. The serious journalism the BBC does isn’t anything like that and is only affiliated by deed of both belonging to a very big, multi-faceted organisation.

  6. Fogwoman Gray says:

    Odd, I was unaware the BBC had a presence in Second Life.
    That aside, all of us who are members of a community in SL are quite used to being considered rather odd by those unfamiliar. The fact that I met the man who became my husband last month in a second life community adds to the confusion (“oh, so it is like e-harmony?”).
    I quite admire the BBC’s reporting on news, but I suppose I expect no more of them than of any other corporate news vendor.
    What I do find endlessly amusing is the level of inane psychobabble in this particular blog posting.

    • johnny says:

      I was thinking that I’d been fairly restrained with the psychobabble. I managed a whole column about SL enthusiasts without once using the term “narcissistic”.

  7. johnny says:

    Well I stand corrected. Evidently everyone in Second Life is well-balanced and insightful, and in no way over-sensitive to criticism.

  8. Enjah Mysterio says:

    Heh lotta hot air here … *starts up balloon*

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