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Ann Otoole

Well if congress gets their way then we won't have to worry about it anymore since they are trying to make it a criminal offense to use an alias/aka online anywhere for any reason. (Purportedly because of one of the planet's largest assholes that rp'd to the end game of getting a kid to commit suicide)

New article on it somewhere. I can't find it now.

Of course that means elected officials can come after anyone daring to speak out online under the protective veil of anonymity which is apparently what that poor teen sacrificed her life for--the erosion of freedom.

Pitiful place this USA has become.

Prokofy Neva

Ann, as usual, you're hysterically invoking conclusions that are extreme and unwarranted.

Here's the story:

There isn't a new federal legislation or even draft bill or anything of the sort.

Rather, it is some officials in California getting an indictment using an old, existing law on the books about cyber crime -- fraud across state lines, plus ordinary conspiracy counts -- go read the piece. I don't know what they mean by "unauthorized access of a computer" -- are they going to try to show that MySpace doesn't allow for the creation of anonymous accounts that are used to abuse people? Or?

It's an indictment -- not a court ruling, and therefore law of the land in California -- yet. The trial didn't open yet; the arguments haven't been heard.

Obviously, LOTS will be said all over, including by Rupert Murdoch's lawyers, you can be sure of it, and the uh, God-given right of geeks to create cyberbullying griefer accounts will, uh, likely be fully protected at the day, sure -- a "right" that this adult woman used to make an abusive account to meddle in her daughter's affairs and ultimately incite someone to suicide.

In some countries, inciting to suicide is a law on the books that is very, very easily cooked and used against all kinds of political enemies or simply just because -- and I am not sure this will fly in the U.S. Do you have any understanding of how these kinds of cases play out in the media and in the courts in the US, a system of common law? It's not like Germany or the Netherlands or even UK.

Ultimately, even if various converges of factors occur such as to rule in favour of this indictment and against this griefer, it's about using a fake, anonymous account for the purpose of harm -- not the act of making an anonymous account itself, which obviously would be well nigh impossible to police.

So I don't think you have to fear that your secret is safe with the Internet, Ann.

Jane2 McMahon

This should be required reading for every starry-eyed guy and gal who gets involved with someone "taken" in RL, or someone whose details don't add up, or someone whose details do but who doesn't seem enthusiastic about taking it beyond pixel-love...hmmm, that's just about anyone! Maybe we could get LL to replace the stomping on rats exercise with this notecard.

Prokofy Neva

No one can stop the taken from being taken or advertising themselves falsely as taken when they mean "Try harder than that person to take me, you might succeed because I really am looking."

But, at least anyone else has truth in advertising available if they read not only this article, but many more like it, including entire sites devoted to the subject.

Tammy Nowotny

I don't know if a law forbidding us to have alts would pass muster... the Congress wouldn't even be able to pass such a law until Obama (or McCain) is President, at which time the Constitution will be in effect again.

In any case, the feds did manage to find a way under existing law to indict the perpetrator of the hoax which led to the MySpace suicide. Although no one has been convicted yet... there are some teeny little factual issues which might come into play, e.g., the fact that Megan Meier's tragic suicide actually followed a fight with her mother, the fact that the two families had a long and complicated history which preceded the tragic MySpace hoax, the fact that the hoax wasn't something which would drive most teenagers to suicide (hundred of thousands of other people of all ages have managed to survive similar humiliations unscathed), and even the fact that Megan's family committed some crimes of their own during the whole tragic mess...

Misty McConachie

I really enjoyed that read Prokofy...thankyou.

Some nasty home truths there for many I think.


Gah, I've lost good freinds to SL relationships. No way of stopping though. I wonder if NCI ciuld run classes in it? "SL Relationships - meet, mate and move on 10 times faster than RL", or "Self Abuse to pixels: Does it count?"

I'm always very happy when friends meet in RL and always very sad when they do in SL. I hadn't thought of it like until now. Bummed out now Prok, thanks.


"I often see newbie women especially with this kind of profile, "No, I don't want to have sex with you." Or, more delicately, "Not interested in SL relationship."

I've seen this written so many times in profiles. It perplexed me in the beginning. I've never been bothered in SL, so I wondered what type of behavior they were experiencing to cause them to put up those blurbs.

This was a good post. I think people like the idea of romance breaking all boundaries. Some may even get lucky and fall in love in SL and RL. But most are playing house, it seems. Which as you note is unfair to the people who are searching for something true.

Prokofy Neva

All of Second Life, indeed any virtuality, is about one of the three things:

1. playing house
2. playing store
3. playing war

I think many people fall in love in both SL and RL, but they do imagine that the SL love is some ethereal Platonic thing that will actually never bleed through the walled garden.

Of course it does, in a thousand ways. Rarely is this anything but corrosive battery acid to the rest of real life. Each one thinks they will be the exception and are superior to their fellow mortals in this regard.

I think the highly-advertised success couples of SL -- there are a very few -- inspire the masses to think that they, too, can reach these peaks. Most do not, but dash their foot against the stone as there is angel to hold them up.

A person who has a secure relationship in RL will not need to advertise this on their profile. In my experience, those who do have this security and desire do not advertise it -- they don't need to.

Ever notice that the people who refer to that happy RL marriage never, ever refer to their happy spouses? But those who don't refer to their happy marriage on a profile seem to spill out in the first paragraph you meet them in something about that beloved spouse.

It's like Tolstoy. All fake happy marriages are a like lol.

Natalie P.

"People that think they are able to maintain both a real-life partnership or marriage and an SL partnership or marriage are of course deeply deceiving themselves...and you."

This quote really sums up a lot of my own thoughts on internet based relationships, whether they are formed in SL, WoW, MySpace, or any other application or site. My husband and I struggled for the first 6 months of our time in SL to establish just how far into the virtual world the boundaries of our real life relationship went - and there was a lot of hurt, recriminations, and unpleasant epiphanies in that time. We managed to sort out our situation, and we're the better for it, but I've seen far too many other, similar relationships go up in flames. Quite simply, it is selfishness; a desire to have one's cake and eat it too.

"Ever notice that the people who refer to that happy RL marriage never, ever refer to their happy spouses?"

The worst offenders there are those who then proceed to rhapsodize about their SL partner in their profile, declaring that their every breath is inspired the queen of their heart, etc. If one's SL partner is one's soulmate, then what is one's real life spouse?

Corcosman Voom

Great post.

I've always wondered about the opposite sorts of things in Profiles or even gushing open chat. "The love of my life Mr./Ms. Perfect, unending happiness, yada, yada, yada."

I see that and think, 'I don't want to be around when that train runs off the rails.'

Regarding the federal indictment, it would be interesting to see the language of the statute they are using. This seems like a fair approximation of the specific act that is "unauthorized access to protected computers for the purposes of" and why the indictment was in CA: 'She is accused of providing bogus information to Beverly Hills-based MySpace when she created an account in the name of the imaginary boy, Josh Evans. Drew then used the account to obtain information about Megan in violation of MySpace rules, which she used "to inflict emotional distress" on the girl, prosecutors allege.'

If they can prove she set up the account, it will probably turn out that there was no activity other than harassing the girl, so intent to cause emotional harm shouldn't be a big problem to prove. It turned out to be much more emotionally damaging than the woman probably ever imagined it could become.

Niko Donburi

Excellent insight. Many of your sentiments echo those in one of my songs about SL, "Virtual Stranger":

Karen had a lonely day,
couldn't wait to put the kids to bed.
All her troubles went away,
when she logged in and became someone else instead
of who she was
or whomever they wanted her to be.
In this new world, she was free.

Nobody told her of the danger.
Nobody told her that the secrets she'd tell
would be used by a virtual stranger
to break her real life heart....

Henry worked from 1 to 9
logged in as soon as he got home
barely gave his wife the time
couldn't wait until he was all alone
and staying up much, much too late
in this new life he was great.

Nobody told him of the danger.
Nobody told him that the secrets he'd tell
would be used by a virtual stranger,
to break his real life heart as well....

What happens in your Second Life
should stay in your Second Life.
But what happens if your Second Life,
won't stay in your Second Life?

How can someone who's virtual
cause so much pain that is physical?

How can someone who's virtual
cause so much pain this is physical?

Nobody told me of the danger.
Nobody told me that the secrets I'd tell
Would be used by a virtual stranger,
to break my real life heart as well
to break my real life heart
as well...


Agnetha Vuckovic

There is nothing more self-deceiving -- and really a failure at deceiving others -- than the man who puts on his profile "Happily married in RL." - Prokofy

lol ! The deception goes even further within SL itself...an environment where a person can switch to an alt nic in seconds.

I know of one guy in SL who has a partner and says in his profile ' she is all I need '. Yet I also know that the same guy has another account where he poses as ' totally lesbian...no guys please ' and spends his time seducing other lesbians in that guise.

The funniest aspect is...given that 1/3 of the 'women' on SL are probably guys....it probably never dawns on this arch-deceiver that a lot of the people he seduces as a 'lesbian' are likely playing the exact same game he is ! A sort of ironic poetic justice.

SL was purpose built for deception. That is, after all, the very nature of an immersionist metaverse.

I would love to see a blog post here titled 'How Many Bald People Are There In SL ?' After all, the deception does not simply start with alt nics or cross-gendering. Most of the people on SL are in some way deceiving about looks, age, weight, etc....all the mundane things. Yet somehow you never see anyone's RL details say ' Ah...my avatar may look 18 and slim and have lots of hair but really I am 69, 28 stone, and bald as a coot '.

Hmmm. Your world.....your imagination. Large pinch of salt provided, free of charge.

Agnetha Vuckovic

"Of course the worst of these deceivers are those who do not reveal to an intimate partner on line that they are the opposite gender. I firmly believe you don't get a pass to do that by chosing to transgender in SL. You must bring at least that person you chose to be closest to you in on the confidence -- not to do so is a profound form of manipulation and even violence." - Prokofy

All very true. But hold on a moment. Surely the whole purpose of Second Life is to be just that...SECOND Life. I would guess that includes the right to be whatever gender one wants.....in fact not even an augmentalist would dispute that.

But there's a fundamental issue here. The augmentalist would argue that anyone can be whatever sex they like...as long as the 'truth' be told. However, such a position isnt just at odds with immersionism....it totally negates it. What, then, is 'Second' about Second Life if every little detail has to correspond to First Life ?

The real issue, to my mind, is not that SL is full of deception ( its called immersionism ), spouses cheating, cross-genders, etc, etc. The real issue is that far too many treat SL as if it were a RL dating agency....and totally overlook the fact that at least half the people on SL are having an 'immersive experience' !

Maybe there should be a huge sign at Orientation Island....'Caveat Emptor'....and a free copy of Alice Through The Looking Glass. If you then end up falling in love with a hairy 28 stone trucker posing as Britney Spears......or someone married in RL with 6 kids....the looking glass is useful for showing who's fault that is.

If you want a RL relationship.....you could always try the..er..tried and tested method of meeting people in RL. Oh..hold on...that didnt work and it's why you're in SL.

Prokofy Neva

As it happens, at the entrance of the Ross Infohub Memory Bazaar, there's a statue of a woman named "Drama". So I have a notecard in it about "Drama in SL" lol.

I don't think you can tell adults in an immersive environment "caveat emptor" -- they are adults. I just think of it as a kind of Baedecker's travel tip -- drama abounds.

I think another one of the major lies of SL is the "no drama-o-rama" type of profile. "Drama-Free" or "No Drama" etc. Of course, they have that sign precisely due to their propensity for drama, because they are emotional creatures. Drama makes the world go round for some people -- I don't think you can outlaw it or make it some sort of social good to avoid it.

People claiming not to seek drama or avoiding drama in fact have put a big signal flag up letting you know that they are fussy little prima donnas that in fact are likely to waylay you with drama of one sort or another lol.

Agnetha, I've heard the argument many times that it can't be Second Life if you can't have the transgendered status absolutely airtight.

And I simply reject that argument because I look at it from the other end: if your most intimate partner online cannot accept you as a transgendered person in SL, then you cannot have a successful intimate relationship with them. If you relationship with them hinges on your maintaining a fiction and keeping them in the dark, you have introduced an element of power inequality that is wrongful and destined for failure. I simply think that's all there is to it.

I'm well aware of various schools of transgender decepters, especially male-to-female, who think it is their God-given 'right' to maintain their fiction. But that's merely a variation on the theme of their entitlement-happy view that they have a God-given right to be more powerful and manipulative in a relationsihp. I don't think they have such a right.

Naturally, there are many of the hedonist/secular humanist/BDSM etc persuasion who say "anything goes" and insist on the legitimacy of fictionalized relationships. I have never seen any of these last, or work, so I don't believe in them.

cat magellan

I am one of the rare cases. My partner in RL is my partner in SL and we "partner" (share) all: we have a sim together, we share a SL blog, we take decisions, have fun, etc, in SL as we do in RL (and we got fed up with it together as well, lol). Some people find it "boring", that we are a couple in all worlds. We don't...guess we are just *normal* people in a world where most people go to escape their RL lives. As for your post, great post.

Cherowolf Redgrave

All of Second Life, indeed any virtuality, is about one of the three things:

1. playing house
2. playing store
3. playing war

Wow! I never thought my SL existence could be reduced to three points. Let me see. I've never had cyber sex so #1 is out. Real estate has changed so much over the past year that its no longer worth the effort so #2 is pretty much out. I don't RP or play games in SL so #3 is out. At this point I come into SL to manage existing properties or to hang out with RL friends who are scattered throughout the USA.

Prokofy Neva

Yes, anything can be reduced to one of three activities.

Oh, you run an educational sim, you say? But that's playing house. Home-schooling lol! Or playing store, doing a job which involves selling something much of the time.
Hanging out with RL friends? Playing house. Playing house isn't just the connotation of "setting up house with a romantic partner" although that's usually what it is.

Prokofy Neva

cat, actually that isn't what I meant by the "rare cases". If you have a RL partner and you go into SL together and stay in SL as a partner, that's very different than if you met in SL, never having met in RL, and then become partners in RL, and then stay partners. That's the more rare phenomenon.

Agnetha Vuckovic

"Agnetha, I've heard the argument many times that it can't be Second Life if you can't have the transgendered status absolutely airtight." - Prokofy

Hmmm....but that's not the real issue. You speak of a 'God-given right to maintain their fiction'....but what about the God-given right that many excercise to be blind to that being the nature of much of SL ?

Anyone in their right mind should enter SL knowing full well that many see it as an entirely immersive environment. There are those who take the 'Your World - Your Imagination ' quite literally.....and I'm affraid augmentalists can huff and puff all they like but nobody should feel constrained in a metaverse to have to comply with 'real life' considerations. That is the very NATURE of a metaverse.

To argue otherwise is to effectively argue that the entirety of SL should be augmental in nature. A state of affairs that would reduce SL to little more than a 3D dating agency ( as if it isnt already ).

A metaverse is surely a self-contained world in and of itself. A reality of its own. Anyone looking for a partner has no end of RL options to choose from.......if they choose to find a partner on SL, then I'm affraid this is the internet and the X-Files maxim 'Trust No One' applies.

Nany Kayo

I've gone through an interesting experience with all this as a married woman in SL.

I've been fascinated by the way anonymous internet communication can reveal an interior reality of a person that is not visible in real life. What people say about themselves anonymously on the internet allows you the abilty to read part of their mind they may not have even intended to reveal. And it can be life changing for everyone involved. People fall in love and get married after meeting on the internet. People get divorced after falling in love on the internet. I feel in love with someone on the internet, and it had a big impact on my marriage and my entire life.

When I came into last summer, I was aware of the powers of sexual tension a place like this can generate. Nevertheless, I ended up attracted to someone.

My husband did notice what was happening, and finally joined me in SL after 7 months. Now I'm looking into his mind and seeing aspects of his personality I never saw so clearly in real life. Turns out he is the most fascinating and incredibly sexy guy I've met here! I'm falling in love with my own husband on the internet.

We may get partnered in SL. We probably will. It will be a very private ceremony, just the two of us, but we'll have a nice reception with a dj and maybe some live music.

cat magellan

"(...)if you met in SL, never having met in RL, and then become partners in RL, and then stay partners." - Prokofy

Well, but that is what happened with me and my partner. :) Ok, we "knew" each other before, because we were (are) both bloggers and became online friends for quite a long period of time. Then I went in SL, he followed me, we falled in love, met in RL finally, things worked out very well apart from the first stupid couple minutes and we are together ever since (almost 2 years now). See, boring story. :)
Oh and we did not get married in SL with a big party (I find that totally weird), just a "ok, who pays the 10 lindens, you or me?" and that was it.

cat magellan

"(...)if you met in SL, never having met in RL, and then become partners in RL, and then stay partners." - Prokofy

Well, but that is what happened with me and my partner. :) Ok, we "knew" each other before, because we were (are) both bloggers and became online friends for quite a long period of time. Then I went in SL, he followed me, we falled in love, met in RL finally, things worked out very well apart from the first stupid couple minutes and we are together ever since (almost 2 years now). See, boring story. :)
Oh and we did not get married in SL with a big party (I find that totally weird), just a "ok, who pays the 10 lindens, you or me?" and that was it.

Prokofy Neva

Well that's great, cat! Then you are the rare exception, and your story then fuels many a jump off the heights, and many a dashing of the foot against the stone -- as there are no angels available to hold up the Taken -- what they make is made in those "first stupid couple minutes" or evidently never lol.

Marcia Benavente

Wonderful post!

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