Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bullying in Second Life


If you turn and face the other way when someone is being bullied, you might as well be the bully too.




          I don’t like bullies.

          There I said it.  As you can tell, I’m going to do something I don’t do too often in this blog, get up on my soapbox.  Why?  Well, for one thing, twice in the last week or so, I received notices from sims I’ve visited recently, Ancient Alexandria and Naked,  informing group members about recent incidents that can only be described as bullying.  (And no, I wasn’t the perpetrator.) 

          Those occurrences and Significant Other suggesting I write about bullying in Second Life (SL) when I’d mentioned I needed a new story idea when an interview had to be rescheduled.  (Don’t worry, that story’s still coming and it’ll be fun!)  Significant Other had been bullied when younger and has been on a crusade on the subject ever since. 

          In RL, bullying is one person or persons making someone else’s life unbearable either physically or psychologically.  (Yes, I know there are more clinical definitions but as a former bullied person myself, I reserve the right to call it as I see it.)  The results of this behavior range from the victim being miserable, avoiding places where he or she has every right to be, or the extreme of suicide.  (I warned you I was going to get on my soapbox with this one.) 

          Until recently, bullying’s been regarded as a rite of passage, something to be endured.  Kids were told to suck it up and grow up.  But, now, people are challenging this idea.  (As I’ve always suspected, the bullied greatly outnumber the bullies.)   People get bullied at all stages of their lives for all sorts of reasons.  Bullying isn’t just something that happened on Leave It to Beaver reruns. 

          Bullying is not limited to the playground among children.  It happens in the business world among adults, in the military, and in academia.  The reasons, I don’t like using that word because it implies logic, vary from being perceived as vulnerable; different because of race, gender, or sexual orientation; or just pure meanness on the part of the bully.  (When you write about it this way, it really sounds really ugly and senseless doesn’t it?) 

          Now, some may ask how bad can bullying be in SL?  After all, it’s only a game, right?  These are only avatars, right?

          One of the first things I learned when I arrived inworld was that there are real people with real feelings behind all the avatars.  Some of these people are vulnerable.  Very vulnerable.  They come into SL to try and have an experience that they can’t have in RL for whatever reason.  I don’t think any of them expect or want to be bullied.  (I’ll exclude from this those members of the BDSM community who enjoy that type of behavior.) 

          Let’s talk about inworld bullying behaviors for a moment.  Rudeness, insults, harassment, and griefing are all examples of bullying inworld.  (I’ve probably missed a few but it’s bad enough as it is.)  Look no one’s expecting people to be boy or girl scouts inworld but there has to be some semblance of order and civility regarding relationships among residents.  Otherwise, the whole Grid just dissolves into a virtual version of Animal House.  (OK, there’s probably a sim for that too but it’s OK as long as they stay on the reservation.) 

          So what do we do about bullying in SL?

          First, if you’ve been bullied don’t let the bullies win.  Come back to wherever you want to be and are entitled to be.  Block them and turn them off.  Report the bullies to the sim and groups owners and operators.  Reach out to others for support.  Finally, report them to Linden Lab (LL). 

          For the rest of us, when we see bullying, we should call it out.  Bullies don’t like crowds.  If we’re sim owners and group operators then let’s take the action Ancient Alexandria and Naked did and ban bullies and let the community know that this behavior won’t be tolerated.  Finally, all of us should be letting LL know when there is bullying.  I don’t want to blame LL for this.  But without proper feedback, LL can do little.  Also, hearing from the rest of us, let’s let them know where we stand on this issue. 

          Yes, I know bullies may use alt’s but if there is continual pushback they’ll tire of the game soon enough. 

          Finally, my readers (all six of you) probably aren’t bullies.  I suspect that not too many bullies will read this story and even if they did not much would come of it.   But, I just felt I had to say something.  If you read this please think about it the next time you see someone bullyied in SL and do something about it! 

 As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.




Anonymous said...

I was bullied as a child in school. If I could go back in time, I would like to ask those bullies "How would you feel if someone treated your future child the way you are treating me?"

Shadowz Greymoon said...

This is why I don't even come into second life anymore often, and it's not just in SL either. It's all over even in MMORPG's there is a lot of bullying going on. I keep to myself and avoid the hassle. I'm the outcast and don't need to be reminded of it as it is. I use to try and help out residents that were new , but now it's just to hard to find out who's new and who isn't. So to avoid hassle and conflicts. I opted to stay logged out of SL anymore.