Precious Darlings

Purple Chiffon ScarfOur personal, familial and cultural life experiences have endowed us all with idiosyncratic opinions of what constitutes good manners, good food, good music, good art and good fashion. I think we should be thankful for that since otherwise, we might all eat avocados for breakfast and dress in pink chiffon and what fun would that be?

Thanks to our diversity of taste, we have more genres of music and literature than I can list. Hair styles range from skull-baring shaves to flowing waves and we are the better for it. Our life is full of variety because we are not the same and don’t like the same things.

Since liking different things is such a boon to our lives, bring us endless variety in every facet of experience, why do we get so angry when someone does not like something we like? I am not immune. I have a deep and abiding love for Rumors of Peace by Ella Leffland. I do not recommend it to many people because it is what I call a “precious darling” – something I feel so strongly about that if someone does not like it, I will probably think less of them.

But that is one book. Most books, if someone does not like it, I am fine. Different strokes, different folks, you know the drill.

However, it seems that in Second Life® fashion, almost everything is a precious darling. I understand that after spending hours working on something, a designer may find her self worth somehow bound up in that item. It becomes a precious darling.  That’s a mistake. No object can ever hold the multiplicity that is some person’s worth – and creators need to think of their many creations less as darlings and more as rug rats – with fondness and a dash of exasperation that recognizes that nothing is perfect.

With precious darlings, if a blogger voices a mild criticism such as wishing the ads had not been morphed because they mislead about the product’s resolution a horde of fans are dispatched to prove how much that word is derived from fanatic. Of course, the goal is to send a message to other bloggers, “Don’t do this at home.”  If someone mentions they did not like the layout at an event, they can find themselves banned from that event and the subject of several shaming private plurks that are less about punishing the individual and more about enforcing a social code of “See no flaw, speak no flaw.”

But that is silly. There are flaws. Almost everything has flaws of one kind or another. It should not be social suicide to acknowledge flaws.

almond croissant Of course, how someone offers criticism is important. For example, as a trainer I was taught to identify one thing to work on – and to present that in the form of a praise sandwich. Identify one thing done well, suggest one thing that needs improvement and then highlight one other item that was done well. Thanks to the hyper-reactivity of SL fashion designers, I will sandwich my critique in the middle of a huge, sugary croissant of praise. Of course, if there are several things I don’t like, I do not blog the item because a) vanity precludes wearing something I don’t think looks good; b) I can only have so many sandwiches in one sitting; and c) it would be social suicide.

But why should it be? Why can’t we be as honest in our likes and dislikes in SL as we are in our first lives? I agree we should be polite and respect that there is real person who made that dress, a person whose ego and sensibilities are bound up in their creation. That’s true for first life designers, too, and they can react just as badly.

Designer in first and second life are mistaken, though, in their assumption that bloggers owe them 100% positivity. Bloggers are accountable to their readers, not designers. A blogger whose misdirected loyalty to designers enables them to mislead their readers will soon not have readers – and that is not good for anyone, bloggers or designers.

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