Together For Sway is one of the top shopping events in Second Life right now, with its wintery theme and a great personal cause, but there have been some negative voices among the crowd. If you're not familiar with the shopping event scene in Second Life that may be surprising news; after all, who could be against raising money to support someone in need? Sadly, for those of us who are used to the highs and lows of these kinds of events, this is nothing new.
While I support Together for Sway wholeheartedly, I have some straightforward advice for those who don't:
That wasn't hard, was it? You don't need to harrass the designers who have donated their time and work, or the people who have donated their money, or the bloggers who have publicized it. Just don't go.
Fundraising events for individuals tend to get a lot more heat than events for charities, both because it's harder to know that the person is being honest about where the money is going and because there are a lot of people who need money for various reasons while few will have a fundraiser held to benefit them. There have been people who have misused donations taken in SL for both individuals and organizations, and certainly there have also been plenty of people who have lied about their RL circumstances to gain sympathy from others. It's good to hold charity activities online and offline to a certain standard of transparency so you know where your money is really going, but at the end of the day there's still a certain amount of trust required when you're conducting any sort of transaction, and if you don't trust where your money is going, then you shouldn't spend it. You have the right to make an individual call about whether or not you feel comfortable participating, but understand that other people will feel entirely comfortable and that doesn't make either one of you right or wrong.
It's true that if there was a fundraiser for everyone in SL who needed help there would be a fundraiser for every day of the year (for a few years at least). Obviously that's not realistic, but thankfully we're in a community that is often more than eager to respond to those who reach out for help-- it's never easy to get the ball rolling but it's even harder if all you do is bitterly complain about the efforts of others, or send out cowardly SL Secrets whenever there's a new charity event underway.
Naysayers also like to say that it's not their role to support others financially... And they're right. It's not. It's a thing you can choose to do because you care about someone or you empathize with their situation, but it's certainly not something you're obliged to do. If you don't want to, don't, but understand that plenty of other people do, and they're not idiots for doing so. If you want them to respect your choice, you need to respect theirs.
It's good to think critically about these things because abuses can and do happen in both worlds, but it's important to realize that events like this almost universally come together out of empathy, kindness, and love. When you find yourself trying to punish people for having those traits in their heart, you're almost always the one in the wrong.Tweet
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.