Are Second Life Users Different?

Some time ago in the days (3/2012) when the Firestorm-Phoenix Viewer had its brand displayed in the avatar ID tag Jessica Lyon was surprised to learn Firestorm users were abusing those that used other brands of a viewer. (Text Reference TM 21:00± – Video Reference*).



Canary Beck has just written an article where she outlines her rules for blog comments. See: My evolving view on blog comments. In it she writes, “I’ve never in my life been the recipient of the vitriol I’ve received while blogging in Second Life.

I blog and post in various places. I had to think about Canary’s comment. Is SL the worst? Since she used the word ‘vitriol’, I can agree with her, yes. Definitions of the word use terms like; abusive, cruel, and others that denote harmful caustic rhetoric. I’ve seen mean and abusive and what Canary is implying by use of the word vitriol does seem to be a significant characteristic of a considerable number of Second Life users. 

There is the old standby explanation that it is anonymity that encourages people to go beyond their normal social behavior. But, there are other games and forums where people can be anonymous. I belong to some. I suspect Canary does too. So, something else has to be the primary cause for people seeing SL differently.

I have my thoughts as to why that is. Reading Brandon Morse’s How Video Games Mainstream Conservatism, (if you just did a mental Whaaat!?!, I did too) I thought of political orientation being a factor in SL, which I think leads to which media people watch and the type of behavior they are most often exposed to via that media. There is a huge ‘monkey see’ factor in human behavior.

So, do we see a conservative lean in Second Life? I don’t think so. Consider. The developers of SL live mostly in San Francisco, Washington, and Boston. Those are places generally considered left leaning if not outright socialist.

How much influence do the designers of SL have on us? Brandon is looking at how conservative ideas like ‘A man chooses. A slave obeys.’ appearing in games. Rewards in most games are for winning not participating. I suppose we could argue about whether ‘hunts’ in SL are about winning or participating. I think it is both, but there is a challenge that must be overcome, which is not a part liberal participation rewards, those being just that you tried.

In game markets designers use free market ideas as they are the most profitable for players and market owners.  Being PC is no fun, so Grand Theft Auto is pointed to for showing how people resist being PC.

In SL we have a free market system in place. But, we also have restrictions on speech and behavior to make us more PC. There aren’t SL rewards for winning as there is little or no competition. Third party games in SL have rewards for winners, but how many people in SL play in those games? A minority? Is gambling right or left leaning? I don’t know.

* You’ll have to manually jump to 21:00. I suggest you start at 20:00 for more context.

Another page, link below…

2 thoughts on “Are Second Life Users Different?

  1. One thing I’ve learned after all these years in world… Second Life is the insane asylum of the internet.

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