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Mitch Wagner

Wow! Outstanding post, Prokofy. All your observations about SL are the same as mine.

When I was wrapping up my article on sex in Second Life (hard to believe that was two years ago), a SL friend remarked that it wasn't so much sex that was popular in SL -- it was romance. People (and I think they tend to be RL women), like to have their huge, lavish SL weddings. It's all fun, and nobody gets hurt.

As you say, most people who get into trouble in Second Life (or anywhere on the Internet) are messed up to begin with. SL and social networks are not the problem.


I've actually seen this behaviour before in real life with both males and females who have never been able to accept the responsibility and boredom of the real world. They move from partner to partner and briefly live the storybook fantasy. I've heard every excuse used in this show in real life(its fun, its a game.) Second Life allows you to play that fantasy out on a grander scale.

On the other hand, no I don't see very much of this blatant sexualized behaviour because I only hang out in education worlds, so the program does sensationalize because it doesn't discuss the bigger world.

HatHead Rickenbacker

This kind of national media coverage (I am in Canada) makes it difficult to sell SL to my corporate clients. It is hard enough getting past the flying phallic griefing legends and convince them that there is more than just romance and shopping.

To make matters worse, Linden Lab themselves are spamming my customers with xstreet shopping emails. I guess LL doesn't want any kind of corporate presence in SL, forcing me towards OpenSim for my projects.

Ric Mollor

It seems as if Second Life is the sole online social experience where people seem very reluctant to reveal or even acknowledge their real life selves. Look at "1st life" tab on 100 random profiles and the majority are blank or very vague.

Compare that to other virtual worlds that have user profiles and the difference is tremendous. And if one includes other social sites (Facebook,MySpace,etc) the difference is even larger.

There is _some_ reason that the majority of Second Life users are hiding their real life identities and trying to keep their SL and RL lives apart. Perhaps others would care to speculate as to what those reasons are.

Sigmund Leominster

It's unsurprising that the sensational or prurient aspects of virtual world living is what gets picked up on by the mass media. In defense of the BBC (who did the original version about a year ago), the consumer - and that includes all of us reading here - enjoys it, despite any protestations to the contrary.

To quote Truffaut, "What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out." This is how TV shows, movies, even articles, work; distill the long, boring, absurd truth and provide a bullet point summary.

Second Life, or any virtual world, is, like real life, full of dull, boring, repetitious activity that if it were shown life on TV would have folks flipping channels faster than Rush Limbaugh pops an oxycontin (gratuitous political jibe duly noted).

Still, I noticed this Friday that over 70,000 people were logged on so I guess there were a lot of Canadian tourists checking out the sex. I'd love to here (a) which business in SL did well this weekend and (b) penis sales - flying or otherwise. I'd like to be able to say, "Yes,I was there during the Great Penis Boom of January 2009."

Jane2 McMahon

@Ric: Perhaps some of us aren't "hiding" our real lives so much as avoiding overshare: I don't publically wear a sandwich board with my bio on in RL, so why would I do the equivelant in SL?

And Prok, the description of Hana Gartner as Miss Hathaway is spot on...she's been annoying Canadians for decades. I see on the site there are links for gaming addicts...oh so "Fifth Estate".

Dirk Talamasca

It doesn't matter what the environment, people are going to do stupid things. Sure these stories happened and they filled a news spot. But, it could have happened in a MUD, on AOL in Yahoo, in Twinity or wherever. It is a weird stigma that we place on things when it happens over the computer but it happens selectively. Ads for Match.com and other relationship sites run in prime time and during soap operas and they are filled with bright white backgrounds, shiny logos and smiling faces. What the hell is the difference?

MItch Wagner

Dirk has a good point. The gist of this story is: Married people go off somewhere without their spouses to hook up and commit adultery.

"Somewhere" is sometimes Second Life. Sometimes it's the workplace, sometimes it's the bowling league, sometimes it's even church.

Joan Kremer

Let me see if I get the point: there was NO such thing as adultery before the Internet ... right?

Seriously, Prok, this is the best response to that piece of tabloid journalism I've seen so far. Excellent! It matches my experience of SL quite closely.

@Ric: My theory is that hiding one's physical-world identity was part of the cultural mystique around SL in its first years. I have no proof, but my anecdotal, informal survey of profiles shows that the "older" SL-ers are far more likely to hide their identities than are the newer ones, for whom the sharing of identifies on Facebook and MySpace makes it a non-issue in SL, too. I've seen so many similar "I want to be mysterious/don't ask"-type profile comments among the 2005-2007 crowd that it makes me wonder if it wasn't just a trendy thing to do. Or not -- I'm sure not the expert!

AlterEgoTrip Svenska

The comparison contrast to this story is that there are people who seem genuinely upset about how the govermental agencies in Sweden have spent a relatively small amount of money for the Virtual Swedish Embassy.

In defence of the goal, an offical on the documentary remarked "that it is we who bring the content", so don't scare good people from the media but rather bring in more so that people can aspire to something aside from new story sensationalism and wreached heart breaking stories of broken homes and time spent of people with something they now may call an "internet addiction" or a "second life addiction"

Lets face it, maybe there is ONE thing we could possibly agree upon Prokofy and that is that if one assumes something those assumptions will colour the perspective on how one sees things.. an illustraition of this was when you mentioned how a person on E-Bay is an entreprenör but a person who runs a buisness on SL is considered a "fool".. playing with fake money.. (that so called FAKE money really adds up damnit)

Freak shows are in the heart, twisted and dark, but real people and good people are definately a part of SL..even if you yourself are not one of them.

The problem with SL is natually like the deepest of all essence that makes the temperment and emotional make up of a human, its hard for anyone to just walk into someone's subconsious expressions, and yet within SL its an everyday occurrance..sometimes you don't want to know about your secretary's ideas of what is fun on her free time and what in her wildest dreams that lady wishes to wear..some things are better left to the imagination, but walking inside of the imagination is just what we do in SL, even if some of it is just unimaginative.

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