Serious Matters

There was a RL lawsuit brought about an SL issue. Many of you know about, maybe some of you don’t. I was watching a video on it again the other day on YouTube. This time I also read the comments posted on the site. The original post and comments go back a year. I am amazed at the contempt, derision and hatred expressed by people who appear to know NOTHING about SL. What IS it about people that makes them so vehemently opposed to anything that is different from what they do or believe???? The abuse and obscenities and disgust expressed are totally out of proportion. I am not an activist. I tend to believe that it is my job to live a “good” life and by doing so, help spread positive karma and repair the world. But sometimes I feel one must stand up and be seen to be doing the positive. To that end, let me direct you to Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds. Let us show those who hate mindlessly, reflexively, that there can be a better world.

And just so no one misses it:

Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds

This leads me to something else that has been bothering me for a few days. At first blush, when you read what I am going to say, I think I sound like I am in the “hate people who are different than I” camp. That isn’t my intent. I am trying to work out a very strong visceral reaction I had to something in SL. It may be that I am still “in the box” and haven’t yet embraced true diversity. So if you think that I am wrong, and that there is a positive spin on this next story, please let me know. Actually, I would be very grateful if you could convince me that there IS a positive spin.

The other night I tp’d into the dressing room to change outfits. The system was incredibly laggy. Before I had even finished rezzing, the other woman in the dressing room, Sadie, offered friendship. I declined. I wrote back thanking her for her offer. Before I could even explain why I was declining (I like to know someone first) she sent the offer again. I declined again and explained why.
Sadie: well my birthday is on sunday and im turning 13
AH: really?
Sadie: si
AH: you are 13 ?
Sadie: turning

At that point my system crashed. When I logged back in, she was gone. I changed outfits, headed over to the benches. I mentioned this to the folks there, one of whom was a Land Officer, who suggested that I should file an Abuse Report.
AH: i’m not sure she really is 13
AH: i think it was a game
Person1: Ewwwwww, playing an age game in the CR
LO: someone doing age play is also against the TOS

It so happened that night that many people came to the benches in child avatars, which for me simply intensified the experience. I confess – I became totally creeped out by the child avs. I was uncomfortable and was not enjoying interacting with my friends when they were wearing those personas. Here’s why….

I remember being 12. It was a difficult time – all that adolescence stuff happening. Cliques. Peer pressure. Budding sexuality. I think maybe 16 was a little worse, but 12 wasn’t so great. If Sadie really IS 12 turning 13, I can’t imagine a single positive, happy reason for her to be in SL. Nothing. SL is, in my opinion, geared for adults. Certainly within the NCI sim it is for adults. A 12 year-old girl has no healthy reason for dressing like a full-blown woman, and going out to interact with adults who will treat her as an equal. All I can imagine is some lonely, sad, friendless girl with low-self esteem, who needs to find virtual friends because her atomic life is bleak. Or this is a child who has been abused and so feels that she has lost her childhood and is an adult. I had so much to do when I was 12. It was hard emotionally (teenage angst), but jumping ahead and trying to be an adult would not have been the answer. I had music, gymnastics, physical friends, family, pets, books and riding. There was still so much atomic world to try. There was so much social interaction to master. I LOVE SL. You know I do. But I am not 12 years old. I have lived life. I have experienced love, death, joy, tragedy. I can move at ease in the atomic world. To me – 12 years old is simply too young to be trying to pass yourself off as an adult in an adult environment.

What if Sadie was playing a game? That to me is even worse than believing she meant what she said. I am squarely in the box on this: I believe that adults taking sexual and/or emotional advantage of children is wrong. No mincing of words on this. I can accept most sexual variations and preferences as long as they don’t involve harming another. I firmly believe that an adult having sex with a child is harm, no matter strongly the adult may believe that the intention is good. So if Sadie was an adult playing an age game, why? Is this another form of griefing??? Because it certainly disturbed me. Each time I think of this incident I am upset.

So. There you have it. If you can help me ease the disquiet in my soul, I would appreciate it. And if you show up for Gender Freedom Day and take a stand for tolerance , the world would appreciate it. And if these two requests are contradictory, all I can say is that I am a human being, full of emotions, trying to live a life that does not harm others, a life that helps to repair the world. I try the best I can.

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7 Responses to “Serious Matters”


  1. 1 daleinnis October 1, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    If her AV looked like a grownup (and I gather she did), I’d be surprised if she was really an adult; or at least I haven’t heard of “adult pretending to be a child pretending to be an adult” as a form of ageplay. Seems sort of odd and indirect for a kink. 🙂

    So if she was really 12, yeah, doesn’t seem like a really good idea. Certainly against the ToS and all; kids aren’t supposed to be on the Main Grid (and as I recall 12 is too young for the Teen Grid too). Kids are always exploring and pushing boundaries and sneaking into places they aren’t supposed to be. Dangerous but generally healthy I think. 🙂 In this case I tend to be an optimist and think that she may end up having some fun, being weirded out by some things, discovered eventually by her parents and have computer privileges taken away for a month, all the usual kid sort of thing. Definitely possible that she has issues and that those issues aren’t going to be made any better by walking among adults in disguise, but not necessarily the case, and really most likely the adults she interacts with are going to catch on pretty quick (especially if she goes around bragging about it!), and the fraction of adults in SL who might exploit her kidness is really pretty tiny; she’s unlikely to run into any of them before she’s discovered.

    Don’t know if that eases your soul any, but that’s the optimistic take, from me. 🙂

    And yay Gender Freedom Day!

    Gender is so XXth Century anyway. 🙂

  2. 2 Dave/ZeroKool October 2, 2008 at 6:21 am

    I have said this before in SL and I will say it here as well. Child Avatars just plain creep me out!

    I do not see a need for a grown adult to role play as a child. For most who do it, I am sure it is innocent fun. To me, seeing a 40 something year old person talking and acting like a child is just plain high on my list of the odd.

    I mean, if you really look at it–where do children fit in SL? There really is no place for them. LL even further bolstered this sentiment by creating teen SL. A major factor of teen SL is age, if you are not a teen– you can’t play in teen SL! Even LL does not want to see grown adults playing as children!

    z~

  3. 3 ahuva18 October 2, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Thanks Dale, Zero. I appreciate hearing from you both. I’d like to think that you are right Dale – that it IS innocent and her parents will find out and take the T-Bird away. Z – I love how honest you are and that you don’t mince words.

    Last night on the benches D said he disagreed with what I said about child avatars. I’m not sure with what he is disagreeing – as I reread this, I don’t think I said anything about the avs themselves. I said that that particular evening, talking with friends in child form creeped me out because of what went before. I didn’t get a chance to pursue the topic, D, since there was a lot going on. So what did I say that you don’t like, D?

    And to whoever it was on the benches last night who said I should have filed an AR – you are right. I did not realize at the time that AR’s covered under-age users. Should something like this happen again, I will.

  4. 4 Krissy Muggleston October 2, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I had this experience recently with a 16 year old. (Although I really don’t even think he was 16 yet). I could tell by his words, spelling and actions that he was not an adult. He was dressed up as a cop, and would walk up to random avi’s and saying ‘stick em up’.. As I watched him, I noticed these random avatars were participating in his little role play. Which was funny but I saw a red flag. It was then that I started IMing him and letting him know that he would ENJOY the teen grid much more. He would find like-minded avatars there with equally skilled scripting and building. Do you remember Sadie’s full avatar name? Perhaps you can search for her name and send her an IM to “check on her”. And maybe have a chance to councel her some on moving to the teen grid. Like Dale said, she may still be too young, but at least won’t expose herself to the adult themes found on our grid.

  5. 5 ahuva18 October 2, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Krissy – that is brilliant! I do have her full name. I will try to contact her. thank you! now I feel as if I can do something positive out of all this.

  6. 6 Lunette October 3, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I wonder if some kids don’t get in using their parents’ accounts?

  7. 7 ahuva18 October 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Lunette – do you mean that their parents let them in or do you mean that the kids sneak in? just curious. “letting them in” may trigger a whole post on parental decisions and responsibility!


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