I have devoted many days in the past to thinking about social upheaval in general, because this is a topic traditionally hot in Russia, and over time, I have observed more and more of public protests happen — not outside my windows, thankfully, but in the media and on the police airwaves. And if they taught me something, it is that the current elite have learned to quietly ignore them. Elites aren’t really concerned about public opinion unless they hold themselves to a certain moral standard of behaviour, which is only possible if they recognise themselves as a united class, with a defined role in society and answerable to the people at least in a certain way. Elites which aren’t united can ignore any displays of opinion wholesale, because they can think these don’t apply personally to them. Public protests do not amount to anything — everyone who could do something that could hurt the elite, already did so, everyone who could remove themselves from the situation, already did so. Everybody else doesn’t matter.

Strangely, the situation in Second Life is remarkably similar. Everybody who is actually ready to remove themselves from Second Life, already did. Second Life’s attraction is not in it’s nature, it’s in other people who create content and provide interaction — nothing Linden Labs create as such is keeping you inworld, and if everything that the residents created were suddenly to vanish, — and hey, that includes the current default avatars! — Second Life would not be able to compete with any other pursuit. As long as the entire mass of residents remains in place, moving to a different virtual world system is not a rational course of action for any resident as long as they consume content, produce content, or interact. And if they don’t, chances are they moved already.

Your opinion therefore doesn’t really matter — you can’t leave, unless you all agree to leave en masse, which, for such a large mass of users, is largely impossible. It will only be accepted by Linden Labs as an incentive if they were to consider themselves a united elite which is in some way accountable before the rest of the users, which is clearly not the case.

Some very different form of protest is in order if you want any kind of change.

What does matter to Linden Labs as a whole is anyone’s guess, because, as I’ve said above, there is no observable whole. (See the two openspaces built up by moles as an example.) There are some things that matter to people who give orders, though. Remembering the ageplay debacle, bad press — traditional media, not the innumerable blogs of ours — is valued very highly in their eyes, and can cause immediate action. Legal disputes, as well, could be leverage.

There has to be something I’m not thinking of, though, admittedly, I’m not thinking very hard about the issue.

But I’m fairly definite that walking around in T-Shirts saying “Fuck you LL” won’t amount to much.