Monday, January 28, 2013

Ask DrFran: Caught Between Two Worlds

By DrFran Babcock

Dear DrFran: I have a feeling what I am going to tell you is not uncommon, but I haven’t seen it yet in your column so I thought I would bring it up.

I am a long time Second Life resident, and I joined originally because my kids are grown, my husband works long hours, and I don’t really enjoy the stuff that other women my age are into in their daily lives. Sharing recipes and talking about clothes is just not as exciting to me as building castles and raising Lindens for the American Cancer Society. My creativity is expressed in the things I make here, and although I have usually given them away for free, or donated them for charity events, I am fulfilled by what I do.

My question for you begins during last year’s Relay for Life events, when a newcomer joined our old and established team for the first time. His avatar was a very handsome male, and he almost always wore suits, and took pains with his appearance. His building and scripting skills added a dimension to our team camp that really struck a high note for the team. As one of the main landscapers and vendor monitors for the team we were together often while planning out and working on things. We chatted amiably for a few weeks, neither of us revealing any personal information—until we started to share. That was when I noticed I was starting to have feelings for him. For the first time I didn’t feel sorry for myself that my husband, a surgeon, was rarely around. Max, as I will call him, was a professional (keeping some details vague here), and lived in another continent from me.  I kept our conversation light, despite my growing sense of intimacy, and worked hard not to let him know I was falling for him.

A few days before Relay opened officially, we were at one of the many pre-RFL parties, and he asked me to dance. While we were dancing, he asked me in I had voice, and for the first time we chatted in voice while we danced. I had never been so entranced, or so engaged in Second Life. I still tried not to let on about my feelings for him. His English was flawless, but his slight accent was a thrill to me. We talked and talked, and before I knew it my husband was home, so I logged.

From then on, no matter what we were doing, building, at a meeting, planning to run Relay, etc., we were in voice, talking and talking. He started to make statements related to having me come to visit him. I still had no idea what he looked like, nor did he know what I looked like. That didn’t seem to matter, because our friendship had been built on talking and sharing, and that seemed to get more intense and revealing each day. Finally, in what by this time was no surprise, he told me that he cared about me as more than just a friend. My heart literally leapt out of my chest, and out of my mouth poured all the things I had been holding inside. We were like two kids jumping up and down with joy. To this day it’s the highlight of my emotional life.

From that day on, Max and I have been inseparable. We have shared everything about our stories, our lives, and all our little secrets. He wanted me to come to his continent to visit. We now knew what each other looked like, and we were even more in love. When I had to log out I would feel empty and alone. I was happy that my husband was never around.

Finally, I decided to go visit Max for a week when my husband left for two weeks for a medical conference in Houston. I knew he would never know I was gone, because he rarely calls, and with my cell phone it would not matter.

Suffice it to say that Max and I hit it off better than I even imagined. I went home to my husband, dejected and missing Max. Since then Max has been begging me to come back and live with him. Now, Max not a rich man, like my husband, but I love him. I am so tormented. Should I leave my husband for this man, Max?  Undecided

Dear Undecided: I wonder why you have written to me, when it seems that you have already made up your mind? That said, I do have opinions, my opinions, on the subject of infidelity, love, and choices.

I am not a fan of infidelity. I understand just how easy it is to be attracted to someone other than the person with whom you are married, but it speaks to a lack of commitment and integrity. However, I am not judging. It does seem as if Max is way more attentive than your husband, who seems most like a good provider, and nothing more.

True love is something that is very rare to find. In Second Life we often form very close and intimate relationships, because lacking the visuals, we have to communicate verbally. We can’t fall into bed with someone and develop the relationship after (note: We can virtually, but that is a different thing. ).
By the way, you didn’t say whether or not you slept with Max when you visited, but that would serve to make the relationship stronger. Did you know that lovemaking releases chemicals that make women desire their man even more strongly? (How Oxytocin Works )

Let me address the question of making decisions, as that will remove me from my obvious bias about fidelity. Undecided, there is a somewhat objective way to decide what to do. Make a list of the pros and cons of each decision. Do not do this in your head, but put it on paper, so you can see it in black and white. Often, this simple task, when completed honestly, can give you the answer you seek.

I wish you luck in your decision, whatever it is. Please keep us posted here about what happens.  Thanks,


Obligatory disclaimer: The column Ask DrFran is the work of DrFran Babcock, and may not reflect the views of SL Newser as a whole. Please direct any correspondence to DrFran Babcock. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ask DrFran: DrFran’s Soapbox

By DrFran Babcock

Dear DrFran: 

This is a bit sensitive, so I hope you will hear me out. I was abused repeatedly as a child, and didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy just being a kid. As a result, I grew into a very serious adult with a strong need to control my surroundings, so I can feel in control of my emotions. That’s pretty good insight, in my opinion, and it’s helped me to survive all these years. The thing that really helped me, though, was coming into Second Life and becoming a child here. As a Second Life child, I can have all of the fun that was denied me when I was growing up. I go to camp, school, participate in Relay for Life activities, build, and a whole bunch of other silly, and out of control things I could never seem to do in First Life. The realism of the role play is impressive. We even have read. I have grown and flourished here, becoming popular with the other kids, and I have even been able to move some of this to my day-to-day life.  

I spend all of my time in Second Life with other child play avatars, and never stray far from my group. We are all friends, and many of us have even met up in First Life. I am telling you all this as background for what I am about to tell you. I have a distrust of grown up avatars, and except for the teachers and camp counselors, I usually stay away from all adults. I can be found usually on General sims, and have avoided events and activities that might place me in proximity with mature sims.

That said, and shaking as I write this, and I am pretty sure you know where this is going. Two weeks ago, after school, one of the adult teachers, whom I will call Mr. Fred, asked me to stay after math class so that he could show me how to solve a homework problem that I really didn’t understand. I was a little nervous, but figured the school could only have trusted teachers.

Within moments of the rest of the class leaving, he rezzed a set of pose balls and asked me to climb on the pink one. He told me: “This is so we can sit and talk about the homework.” I didn’t believe him, but I felt helpless to protest—that’s a problem I have because of the abuse I have suffered. People can boss me around easily. That’s one of the reasons I avoid adult avatars. When I got on the pose ball, I immediately began to gyrate in a sexual way. I was completely freaked out. I hopped off the ball and teleported back home, and logged out. I have not told a soul about this, and it happened about two weeks ago. When my First Life abuse was going on my abuser, a neighbor, used to tell me that if I told anyone what we were doing that he would hurt my parents. I guess I am conditioned to keep silent, but I worry that Mr. Fred will try this with other child play avatars, and most of the ones I know have also suffered from child abuse.

Since that day I have not logged in much, I feel a return of some of the horrid symptoms that used to haunt me before I found Second Life. What can I do?

Sign me: Abused.

Dear Abused: I am so sorry for all of the horrid things that were done to you. Children are not meant to be objects of pleasure for sick people. Pedophiles abound, and this is the topic to which I have the strongest, angriest, and frustrated response. The world has yet to awaken to the epidemic proportions of child abuse, and things will not improve until they do.

I know that you will not be pleased to hear this, but you MUST Abuse Report (AR) this individual. This behavior is bound to continue unless you report him. I am sure this avatar worked a long time on building the trust of the school administration in order to get into the role of a trusted instructor. If he is stopped, he will surely create an alt to continue this behavior, but it will take time for him to establish the relationships he needs to continue with his behavior. Of course, this is conjecture. For all I know he (or she) is operating several avatars already.

It’s been a while (2008) since there has been a lot of talk about child play avatars in Second Life being used for pedophiliac role play. Marianne McCann ( ) and fellow advocates have gone a long way to demonstrate the actual purpose of child play for many individuals, and it is similar to what you expressed. The children of Second Life have a reputation for fun, charity and loyalty to each other that is enviable.

This is Second Life, not First Life, but I am a firm believer that the line between the two is wafer thin. You hurt my avatar, and the First Life DrFran is hurt. You are a pedophile in Second Life, and you probably are a pedophile in real life.

Please, please, please, Abused. Report this guy, because he will continue his behavior, and you will be doing the right thing, not the wrong thing. I appreciate fully how difficult it is to break out of the habit of protecting your perpetrator, that were wired into you as a child, but as a wise person said to me: If nothing changes; nothing changes. I hope you can find the courage to do report this individual, and I hope you can find a way back to your friends and family in Second Life.


Obligatory disclaimer: The column Ask DrFran is the work of DrFran Babcock, and may not reflect the views of SL Newser as a whole. Please direct any correspondence to DrFran Babcock. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ask DrFran: It’s a Big Grid

By DrFran Babcock

Dear DrFran: 

My rez date is from 2006, but I left Second Life soon after I came in, and didn’t return until recently. I am amazed at how much has changed since then. The grid is a gorgeous place filled with amazing builds. Mesh has added so much to the way things look—it’s a paradise. The thing that is most striking to me is how vast the world is—it’s gigantic! I teleport from place to place to place, and I mostly find myself alone. That’s what I wanted to ask you about.

Back in 2006 I could find things to do by looking on the website at events. There were always a lot of events, and I found them. What was a problem back then is still a problem for me today. I just don’t know how to make friends here.  There are some places where I find lots of avatars: Frank’s Place Jazz Club, New Citizens Incorporated, and some of the Welcome Areas. I go to these places and hang around, but nothing ever seems to happen.

My question is: How do I meet people in Second Life? I don’t mean finding a boyfriend. I just want to have people to hang around with, explore to this fantastic place, and sit and chat. What am I doing wrong? Thanks, 

Lonely in Paradise. 

Dear Lonely: I chose your letter out of a pile of similar letters. There are many residents who feel alone here in SL, and are at a loss to figure out what to do to change this. As a result, many of them do leave, and never come back.

However, there is a lot one can do to make their Second Life a social and active environment. This does take a bit of self-honesty, if you are willing to do that. Here is a list of questions and suggestions:

1.     Am I really lonely? Do I really want to be with other people, or do I just think I should be with other people?

Believe it or not, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying solitude. Our society places a great emphasis on being with others, and folks who enjoy their own company can often feel different or excluded. The fact is that Second Life seems to attract many people who are content with creating and exploring without chatting or being around other residents. DrFran enjoys the solitude of creativity quite often. I say this so that those among you who feel this way might know that really it is OK. I am going to assume, Lonely, by what you have written, that you are not a happy loner.

2.     If I determine I do want to meet other people, then I have to think about a few things? Most important is the question of interest. What is it you like doing, Lonely?

You mentioned exploring the grid and chatting with others. As I said above, it is crucial to be doing the things you like to do in Second Life in order to meet people with whom you might have things in common. For example, like many people in Second Life, I like music. When I was a new avatar, I went to many concerts, and found that the performers I liked attracted people that I liked. But, that’s not enough. The only way that other people get to know me is if I talk. So, when I went to concerts, I started to participate in the conversations that always go on in open chat, no matter how compelling the performance. If you stand there an wait for things to happen, you will never meet people. I understand how shy people can be intimidated by the prospect of having to share in a populated environment, so there are other things I have done to ease myself into social situations:

a.     Do something where the conversations and interactions are expected in the event: Trivia and building classes are two events where talking around the task is structured in. If those don’t work for you, find something that requires you to speak about something in particular. You mentioned the events listing…they can still be found on the bottom of the website dashboard page. They are not as user friendly as they used to be, but they do exist.

b.     Get involved in a charity: Some of the best friends I have made in Second Life are the people that I worked with on the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. For many years I have helped with building and events, and this has helped me to develop relationships that continued beyond the event.

c.      Join a group: Group chat is often broken, but when it is not, it is a great way to chat anonymously with like-minded people. One of the easiest ways to meet people is to join a group that is involved in a hunt. The Peace on Earth Hunt Group had many members, and they chatted about the hunt and other things all the time. I have a friend who met a good friend from that group.

3.     Be honest with yourself about what you want.

At the risk of repeating myself: Do what you really like here in Second Life. The relationships will develop if you are true to yourself. It may sound crazy, but I have always been a lover of canals, and in my attempts to recreate canals with working locks here, I have met and become friends with a wide assortment of residents. Builders, scripters, geeks and the like were attracted to my interest, and we developed friendships that persist to this day. I don’t have a working canal at this moment, but I still have the friends.

I hope all of this is helpful to you, Lonely. There are ways to create a Second Life that more naturally invites other people into it. Anyone out there you has ideas on how to meet people is welcome to contact me with ideas and suggestions.

Take care, until next week.


DrFran Babcock

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bain Finch's Fundraiser for Aryon Dagger

By Bixyl Shuftan

Om Sunday January 6, Relay for Life member Bain Finch held an event for friend and fellow Relayer Aryon Dagger. Aryon's computer had broken and she couldn't afford a new one, just as she was facing surgery for cancer followed by weeks of recovery. So Bain talked to a few other friends, and they set up a DJ music event high over the Lemonia sim. Bain wanted to keep things somewhat quiet at first, wanting the event to be a surprise. But on the day of the benefit, it was out and clear in the open.

The event began at 10AM SL time with Vic Mornington DJing. I dropped in shortly after 11 with Bcreative Wild playing the music. Later on, Madonna Daehlie and Nuala Maracas would DJ at 12 and 1PM respectively. The place was on the inside of a sphere with the appearance of partying in the middle of space. Among the others there were Avariel Falcon in his dark unicorn avatar, Panza Eilde, Saffia Widdershins, and more. One was in a green alien avatar. Arnold (Gager) of Steelhead wraped himself up in a Christmas box, getting some chuckles, "Arnold, I don't know why, but I want to open you (laughter)." "You know cats and boxes."

During the event, the people sent words of encouragement to Aryon, which Bain relayed to her, "Hey Aryon. Go ahead and eat all the good stuff that I can't eat. You need your strength to get well, so we can all meet up in Florida." "We all love you, Aryon, and we're all with you!" "Aryon, we are all with you in this fight, till we all emerge victorious over the evil C, biggest Huggs."

The words truly touched Aryon's heart, "I cannot begin to tell you all what this means to me. I asked (Bcreative) to play this song for you all because you DO open my eyes when I cannot see through the tears, you DO give me breath after you have taken it away with the strength and love you share not only with me but all those on the dark journey. Bain and Panza, you have listened to my rants and raves, my laughter and tears and I cannot thank you enough. To everyone who has offered support and hugs and donated ... I WILL not give up ... I fight for you ALL. Thank you and I love you all SO much." these words were followed by the song, "Thank you for loving me."

Yours truly had to leave early, but I did get a message from Bain Finch later, "DONE!! (We) raised enough for Aryon and I'm at loss for words on how to thank every one." A few days later, Bain announced that the surgery had been a success and the cancer appeared not to have spread. Aryon was on her road to recovery, which would take several weeks. And thanks to Bain, she would stay in touch with her friends.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, January 7, 2013

Adventures in Cadair

By Grease Coakes
A friend of mine Inhandra Birdsong told me that when she wasn’t in Second Life for a while that she was on under a different name in a roleplaying sim. I actually found this out when Aurora Avila asked where she was. When I IMed Inhandra and told her that, she told me about Cadair, the roleplaying sim she role-plays at.
What’s Cadair? It’s a medieval roleplaying sim that takes lots of patience, but the patience can be rewarding as you role-play a character in a medieval magical environment. I put together an old B@R clothes set and some bow and arrow props to make myself look like a ranger type of character which would mesh well with my green Tokushi griffin avatar.
New to roleplaying? Not to worry the players there will assist you to craft your roleplaying into a richer part of everyone’s addition to the roleplay experience. Furries and humans are both welcome as I ran into both human characters and furries. The first character I ran into was a mute woman named Birala when I role-played that I was new to Cadair as a ranger searching for a “Bow of Destiny.” Even if with her name above her head I pretended I didn’t know her name. She invited me to her house using hand motions. Each motion of explaining what your character is doing is about a paragraph or two so there’s lots of typing involved. Later she told me her name through a scroll she handed to me from her belt.
She was helpful to me reminding me to use quotation marks when I spoke to make it clear what I was saying and doing were kept separate. Very quickly I improved as my adventure began in Cadair. I role-played along helping her prepare fish and eel that she brought home with her. She got upset with me, gesturing when I chopped up too many vegetables for her stew. I stopped helping her and went to the table instead. She told me of demons to the west to be careful of. I asked her about the "Bow of Destiny" I was hunting for as part of my character story. She had no idea shaking her head no.
The Bow of Destiny as I explained in RP “Would let the clumsiest farmer or the most skilled archer hit any target without fail.” Birala ventured away to Real Life having to leave the sim so I wandered around some more running into merlin and some child characters. Then a minotaur walked over asking me to accompany her to the infirmary. She asked for my allegiance to the land of Cadair. Playing along I said sure that I may find the Bow of Destiny helping the land.
Walking along with Vilge the Minotaur I walked into some more people talking about demons and other things. Vilge who crashed requested that I tag along to help her something. Learning the hard way I found out this was a bad idea. Read along and find out why.
Following Vilge for a short walk she led me to an underground cave which happened to be the warded moonpool of werewolves! Wait werewolves? In my character’s words “If there was a mad cow disease its name would be Vilge for leading me here. “
I roleplay myself jumping on to a ledge and shooting the alpha werewolf in his shoulder, but instead his mate Violet takes the arrow instead. Next the child named Saliu next to me morphs into a werewolf (WAIT she was a werewolf? I didn’t know that she was) and she pins me to the ground.  Luckily for me her clan mates bite her ear to get her off of me. All I had was an arm bruise wound.
To make this interesting, the minotaur character was called away for business and the same for the alpha werewolf character named Maral. I roleplayed action with the remaining characters, however Vilge comes back and asks technical questions. Luckily my actions were valid and Vilge did nothing so my actions were not voided. A RP overseer, like a dungeon master, came by and ruled in my favor.
When Maral came back as well, we continued the roleplay to me being led to a firepit. Saliu seeing me was enraged again as I shot one of her parents. Once again her clan mates intervened as I flew away, stating out of character, then I flew far enough to escape their clutches. A lot of the characters said I did a great job of paragraph roleplay for my first day in Cadair. I was also told that having a RP overseer intervene is a rare occurrence. So it was neat to see a RP issue handled first hand.
Looking for something new and exciting within Second Life? Check out the Medieval roleplay sim Cadair. Just be patient with others and if real life gets in the way there’s not much you can do about that. 
Grease Coakes

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ask DrFran: It’s All About Perception

Dear DrFran: I don’t think it’s the lack of face-to-face First Life contact that caused the problem I am about to share with you. I think it was a difference in worldview. I just closed out a chapter in my Second Life that causes me a lot of emotional pain. I wonder over and over how I could have so missed the mark.

My guy and I didn’t meet and start the usual whirlwind SL relationship of: 1) hello; 2) let’s have sex; 3) let’s be a couple; 4) that’s enough; 5) good-bye. We were united over an interest in building and creating, and that’s what brought us together. He IMed me one day to discuss something he noted in my profile while we were both in the audience of the old Show and Tell. The more we talked, the more we found that we had similar interests in travel, culture and were both fanatical lovers of the wonder that is Second Life. We chatted pretty regularly for almost eight months before we actually spent any time together. I invited him over to my land to see a build I was working on. Thus began almost three years of just about daily contact, hours and hours of time logged building together, creating a sim, and talking, talking, talking. In the entire time I was with him, I was not ever bored or looking for topics to discuss. We were both interested in many things and interested in each other’s interests. I learned a lot from him, and I believe he learned a lot from me.

The only fly in the ointment was the way we fought, which we did with increasing frequency as time went on. Our fights usually started with me getting angry at him because he didn’t log in until I had waited many hours, or he was critical of the things I was building. I guess that’s not such unusual stuff, but as time went on it seemed that our differences were irreconcilable. When I got angry, he would just get angry back, and we descended into yelling back and forth without any common ground. No matter how many times I told him that I got angry because I cared, he just refused to accept this and move an inch in making peace. He brought up ex-girlfriends in SL all the time, despite the fact that I told him, assertively and calmly that this behavior upset me. I asked him not to do this, and he did. Eventually, we just could not come to any reasonable compromise with each other. From my standpoint, every attempt I made to tell him that I cared was met with a list of all the things I had done wrong. Despite my feelings for him, which persist to today, it had to end. I feel like a junkie without my drug. I went from knowing there was someone to talk to, to having a hole in the fabric of my Second Life.

I wish there had been some way to let him know that I really cared for him—his intelligence, humor, building and scripting skills, and just how zany he could be. However, this is done. I know I will eventually get over this, but what could I have done differently.   

Lonely on the Mainland.

Dear Lonely: I am sorry for the pain you are feeling now. There is probably no worse pain than that of a lost relationship. You have asked what you could do differently, so I will not comment on your significant other’s behavior. Besides, you said you two see things differently, thus I don’t know how accurate your descriptions of his behavior might be.

I can say some things to you. Yes, I know you are hurt. Yes, I know that you cared about this guy. Yes, you had a real and long relationship with him, and unlike many others DrFran believes it’s all real here. You can run, but you can’t hide from who you are.

That said, a lot of the things that you did were designed to push him away. (NOTE: In the interest of protecting the anonymity of this avatar, I removed some details about events that occurred, but my answer reflects some of this additional information) Nobody likes folks who are demanding and needy. I understand that you cared about him, but responding to his lack of logging in with anger could only serve to alienate and anger him. I am not blaming you; I am trying to help you see what he might have perceived. If you really cared about him, the best thing would have been to ignore his attempts at angering you by mentioning ex-girlfriends. Each time you got enraged, you pushed him further away.

People are so imperfect, me, you, your ex. When we care about someone we learn to make peace with what we see as their faults and shortcomings, or we decide not to accept and leave.

Lonely, if you are lucky enough to enter another relationship see if you can: Live and Let Live a little. You sound like a caring person, and I hope you can learn to lay back a bit, and let people be who they are. Meanwhile, I hope you have other friends and interests to engage your time. If not, ask yourself why you invested so much in just one person. You used the word “addict,” and I hope that you care for people rather than get addicted to them. Hugs and best wishes. DrFran

If you have a question for DrFran Babcock, please send her a notecard, or you can email at:

DISCLAIMER: Ask DrFran is not meant to reflect a professional mental health opinion, nor necessarily the opinions of SL Newser. The primary purpose of this column is entertainment and journalism.

ADDENDUM: A reader contacted me following the Weighty Issues column of last week with some very good, different, and perspective changing views on overweight, health, and society’s thoughts about obesity. The reader used facts, research and logic to dispute my opinion that obesity presents health problems. If anyone reading this is interested in receiving the scholarly information on this topic, please email me at the above address.