Being relatively clueless to what goes on around me, I didn’t realize the controversy swirling about surnames in Second Life. A very thoughtful friend of mine, CeeJay Writer, explains her take on this in her blog post, What’s In A Name?
I can’t explain any of this better than she can, but I can affirm something she says from quite another perspective.
To quote two things she says in regards to the new ‘default’ surname of Resident,
This worker alt does have a cutsie display name, added for my own amusement, but her underlying name of Resident will always brand her as a ‘newbie’.
How will it feel to forever be a member of Clan Resident – never aging in others eyes, always and forever a newbie…
This is so true. People make so many assumptions based in SL based on just your surname or your rez-date.
My SL surname is Mimistrobell. From what I understand, that is a relatively old, ‘heritage’, surname. With that old a name, it brings certain expectations, certain assumptions. Sometimes these are relatively benign, such as when I IM’d someone I had to contact about something, and they thought I was IM’ing about their place in some large SL event because… well, I had been around so long.
But sometimes… No. I don’t own a shop. I don’t know how to build. I don’t know a whole lot about SL mechanics. And yes, I am really clueless about a lot of SL things.
Now part of it is because I took a fairly significant break from SL. But before that, I was around for a long time.
The fact is – I don’t want to own a shop. I don’t really have the desire (or energy after 12 hour work days) to learn the technicalities of building. I’d like to run some events, but they need to be right for me and fit into my own schedule. I come here to roleplay, to talk to people, to be the person I really feel I am inside and that I cannot be in my real life – for whatever reason. I like to decorate.
However, sometimes I get comments from people, like I am a parasite in SL. I don’t add anything. I do not add to the ‘experience’ that is Second Life – and after all this time, I should be.
Maybe I should know those things. And maybe those people have a right to think of me in that light. But I don’t accept it and embrace that in myself. There are other things in building an experience – in building a community, in caring about people, things that I think that I do do.
So, the upshot of all of this? We all need to stop judging based upon surnames, or ‘length of service’. It happens, all the time. And I agree with CeeJay’s point that a new catch-all Resident surname will only perpetuate this kind of thing happening.