Friday, March 9, 2018

SLife and Times: Instant Judgement Misconceptions

By Bixyl Shuftan

You've probably seen these kinds of people in real life, people who make instant judgments about an entire group of people just because they saw one bad thing one single individual of the group, and assumed this was how they all acted. Sometimes, it's as a joke, such as people talking about "all New Yorkers." And then there's when someone makes a blanket statement about "all Second Life users" or a certain part of it's fanbase. While some of the comments I've heard were made in jest, such as those saying men dating here really need a trip to a real-life strip bar, others are more bitter. The latter are often for highly exaggerated or outright false reasons.

Some months ago, someone sent me an angry message on Facebook. He was furious at me for promoting "a sick and twisted" form of entertainment. I responded that I had no idea he was talking about. He then sent me a link for something on Marketplace. The image was something so obscene, I can't even place a picture of it here with black bars. "Why aren't you writing about this?"

I gave a two-part response. One: I had never heard of this particular kind of product, or anything like it in Marketplace before. Two: It was my experience that very few, if any, of the hundreds of thousands of active residents would have any interest in this kind of depravity. Second Life did have it's adult side, I admitted, but I had never seen this level of obscenity there. I went on to say that while Second Life did have it's adult side, so does real life. And I had no desire to report on strip clubs and brothels any more than my local newspaper and the nightly news.

My attempt at reason didn't seem to have any affect on this man, whom angrily accused me of covering up the "truth." He would post on his Facebook page about this obscene virtual good as a typical example about how Second Life was a place where people went to exercise the most deprived of sexual fantasies. While tempted to respond, I felt the best thing to do was to ignore the angry rant and just let it die.

I thought back to when Second Life was mentioned much more in mainstream and tech media. At first, it was praised as the latest thing. But later on, what would be mentioned were the tales of cyber affairs while the stories about people creating art, the disabled finding ways to express themselves, and people getting together to raise charity were practically ignored. One friend of mine in those days called it an unfortunate fact of human nature, "It is so much easier to sell a story when it is controversial than when it is constructive." So it seems some people find it easier to believe the worst about the new and the different.

I was reminded about this more recently when at a club with a few friends. It had a mixed furred and normal human crowd. In the "after-party," following the official event, I was among those who hung around with a few friends, chatting about goings on. Then we saw someone come in. He was a newcomer, which was not very unusual in itself was the club occasionally gets them, and another had appeared earlier in the evening. But he began making remarks, asking if the human patrons were in danger of being eaten by the furry ones. At first, everyone thought he was joking, and went along with it, chuckling. But he wasn't laughing.

I messaged the guy, asking what was going on. He stated he was on "furry patrol," going to various places in Second Life with them. I asked what was the purpose, and he told me that the first furry place he went to, a wolf had roleplayed trying to eat him. Freaked out, he fired his weapon at him, and left the sim. So he was going from place to place that catered to furs to try to "protect" anyone in human avatars there.  Apparently he had come across the "vore" sim which caters to strange fantasy roleplay about creatures swallowing other creatures alive. This sort of thing isn't confined to Second Life. One girl I knew in real life wrote a story about a naga character, a snakelike creature in myth, that would once in a great while attack and devour alive someone who tried to harm her friends. This sort of thing is regarded as weird by most furs and normal humans in Second Life alike, one joking he found the concept "hard to swallow." But he seemed to have gotten the impression all of those who took on a nonhuman look were into that sort of thing.

So I told the newcomer that, saying most in furred avatars considered what he encountered just as strange as he did. I don't recall him giving me much of an answer, so I thought that might have convinced him nonhuman avatars weren't always out to get him. Later on, I did consider the possibility this might have been a troll alt whom was looking for people to offend, and seeing cooler heads decided to move on. But the trolls I've run into are usually more persistent.

Fortunately most people I've run into when it comes to Second Life are fairly open-minded. But it seems there's always a few whom jump to a wrong conclusion over a single incident, and act on it. Sometimes they'll reconsider when given new information. But some seem to be too close-minded to change their opinion.

Bixyl Shuftan

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