I won't be attending philosophical discussions anymore. It isn't worth the time or stress for debates in subjects that are inherently subjective. If I do attend any kind of discussion in the future, it will be on topics relevant to RL or SL issues.
I came to this conclusion a few nights ago, at an event where one was to talk about 'Good and Evil'. The first warning flag rose when I received a note card outlining specific points on this topic. A topic like this should be a free flowing beast, and to shove an outline like this upon participants is akin to chaining down a bicycle you bought for your children. It stifles any freedom of thought that is necessary for this. Not to mention the note card was already biased, with the host's 'answers' to each point in the discussion. Hello Group think. Care to guess how many disagreed with the host? How many raised any points outside of this initial note card?
The second warning flag came when they attempted to define what good and evil are. Their concept of a 'gray area' was awfully naive and consisted of rather simplistic thought experiments such as 'If I rez a house that my neighbor finds ugly, do I take it down?' or 'If I am busy, is it rude to those trying to IM me?'. I'm no advocate for moral equivalence, but one has to concede that nothing is on a concrete good/evil scale, and that the 'gray area' is large and largely dependent upon point of view and social values and mores. Sure, some things can easily be seen as set at one definite end of the spectrum, but I'd hazard that 80% of the rest is mostly subjective.
Take Prokofy Neva and this Ginko Financial issue for an example. He considers it high treason to SL that Benjamin Noble sees Ginko Financial as a giant Ponzi scheme. Prokofy wants to support native SL institutions, and doesn't approve of outsiders coming in and applying RL views and laws to what is clearly a whole new world, and feels that such actions will destroy what we have. He also perceives that Ben is something of a stalker, set on pushing his lawyer-y views.
Ben considers Prokofy highly uninformed, and almost criminal in that Prokofy is advocating what amounts to a criminal con scheme. He wishes to apply RL laws and associations into SL as a means to bring stability onto the grid. He sees Prokofy as a blowhard of sorts, someone lacking in the proper education and wisdom to see as he sees. He also views Prokofy as someone who will lead people to ruin by advocating practices and businesses which are doomed to failure.
There we have two opinions clashing with the other, a battle of titans. Is either right? Both raise extremely good and well thought out points. Which one is evil? Both would have you believe it is the other. This is just one example, I can provide countless others where this discussion's definition of good/evil is hopelessly flawed and lacking.
Other discussions have cheesed me off to degrees. One on the acceptance of entering SL (what?), another on whether avatar appearance affects one's trust of them. The latter really steamed me, as I can hardly imagine appearance matters at all in trusting someone in SL, it really boils down to behavioural patterns and previous experiences with someone. Most people can size a person up within the ten to twenty minutes they introduce themselves to each other and chat up a bit. Appearance appears to matter little from my observations of how people interact, it's assumed by most that they WILL encounter strange and unique forms, starting with the fox/human one can choose as a starting avatar on the sign-up page. Scope nailed it laconically with one sentence: "I have many friends of all sorts that I'm friends with, how they looked didn't seem to matter" (something along those lines, I didn't save the exact quote). God bless him, he destroyed their argument with a single sentence. Their reaction? Carrying on as if nothing happened, and the accounts of multiple avatars (me, Scope, and a few others) are but grains of rice against the wind of consensus that APPEARANCE MUST HAVE AN IMPACT!
Thus, to save myself from further anxiety, I will adhere to the following rules concerning such discussions:
1) I'm not attending any more philosophical discussion. Period. Regardless of whatever you think, I find them pointless and usually boring, rarely discussing anything relevant to anybody, and covering topics I could find in high school textbooks on the subject. I harbor no interest in this.
Amendment to Rule 1) If you invite me to such an event, I will attend, but do not expect me to participate. I'll observe, keep company, and give my opinion if you press me on it, but that's about it. I don't feel I will have anything to add to these kinds of discussions.
2) Discussions I will attend will be ones on more relevant issues in SL, concerning say griefers or the shaping of the SL world. Topics that can be grounded in something useful, and not 'pie in the sky on Cloud Cuckoo Land Nine' discussions on "Can your avatar feel pain and love?".
3) If I find the discussion to approach revolting or absurdity, I will politely excuse myself. I don't gain entertainment in watching either a side show, especially one posing as a 'discussion of serious business'.
I believe these three rules will ease my aggravation in these types of events considerably. Of course, we can't forget the all important fourth rule:
4) The above rules are subject to being ignored most of the time at the discretion of the rule maker.