The crosshair obsession

There's many things about how people behave in-world that confuse and fascinate me and one of them is their reactions to crosshairs. As I'm sure most people know, some viewers (Firestorm anyway, and Pheonix and Emerald before it -- I don't actually know if any other viewers support the feature as I seldom use them) have a facility where you can have "crosshairs" on screen that show you where people's cameras are focused. It's a feature I've used as long as I've used viewers that support it and my main use is idle curiosity (although sometimes it's useful to know when someone's observing me working in the workshop, that can be a handy heads-up to a possible incoming IM or, rarely, a workshop invasion by someone who doesn't quite understand that privacy is a request that involves both parties).

A little earlier today I saw someone's profile (actually, there's another blog post to be had: people who get upset that people might be looking at their profile) that listed "crosshairs" as a big dislike of theirs. Not that crosshairs exist, that wasn't the complaint. The complaint was about other people having their crosshairs on them.

I find this utterly bizarre. Here's why:
  • If it worries and bothers you that someone might actually have their camera focused on you why turn on crosshairs in the first place? Just turn them off and live in blissful ignorance.
  • Following on from that: you do realise that people can be following you and watching you and their crosshairs won't be showing, right? There's at least 3 methods I can think of:
    • People can turn off the transmission of the data that lets your viewer know where their camera is focused.
    • People can have the data transmission turned on and anchor their camera on something else but position it so that they're actually watching you.
    • Flycam! Anyone using a 3D mouse or other controller that works well with flycam mode can have their crosshairs in front of themselves but can be watching you -- possibly from many thousands of meters away.
  • What's so terrible about being seen anyway? If you've spent a good amount of money on your avatar and made it good to look at why wouldn't you want people looking at you in a public space? Isn't it actually a compliment to see those crosshairs wandering all over your avatar?
The only reason I can think of why people turn this feature on and then get offended by people looking at them is that they're looking for an excuse to be offended. Meanwhile, anyone with half a clue about how their viewer works will actually be looking them over without them even knowing.

What's even worse is people who think they fully understand how the crosshairs work and then get annoyed at people for all the wrong reasons. I was once at a dance and one avatar there had very obviously gone afk -- there was no response from them when anyone tried to speak to them and they never moved. Someone else, however, started loudly and publicly berating them for lying and really being at their keyboard and just watching people without taking part.

Their evidence that this was the case? The afk avatar's crosshairs kept jumping from person to person. It's true too. The afk avatar's crosshairs were jumping all around the room. But it wasn't their doing and it wasn't under their control. Crosshairs have a colour scheme that tells you what the camera is doing and why it's doing it. In this case the crosshairs were a light grey and were always jumping to the last avatar or object that had spoken. This is the "autolisten" focus that happens to every avatar.

It's hard not to view all of this as people whose approach to enjoying Second Life involves a portion of "I'm going to manufacture offence at people enjoying the visuals of a very visual medium". Really, if knowing what people are doing bothers you so much turn the bloody feature off, and understand that even when you've got it turned on people will be doing it anyway without your knowledge.

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