drama and flamewars

Wow. I’m glad I’ve been away from SLU for most of the week, seems that it all erupted in drama and bannings, and of course had I been here I would not have been able to keep my neb out. My response though, is here and not in the forums because OMG more drama, and I don’t really want to re-waken threads that ought to be quietly euthanased.

Now I’ve been a member of forums and other net communities for over 10 years and in all that time I’ve always been polite and friendly on joining, I take time to get to know the place before I post, and I do not immediately jump into flamewars and start insulting people. In all these years I’ve seen people join forums, and immediately start acting like an asshole, and then they wonder why they get treated like one.

These people who wonder why they get involved in so many flamewars, why they believe that nobody likes them, why they think they’re being persecuted all the time, I wonder how many times they look at their own attitudes. The answers are there.

Having been a member of several trauma-survivor communities, including one with a pretty tough reputation that I’ve been a member of for over 6 years now, the “OMG I’ve had a life of trauma” card is one that just makes me laugh. I’ve seen it so many times. And you know what? It does not excuse being an asshole. There are plenty of other people who’ve also had a life of trauma who are NOT assholes.

The other one that makes me laugh is the “I’m a newbie so everyone hates me I’m not in the clique”. To that I’ll just… well, first I’ll spend ten minutes LOLing, but when I’m recovered I’ll point to the first few posts I made on SLU. Yes I whined, but the reaction I got was 100% supportive and positive. Why? Because I’d been NICE. I see exactly the same thing on that other forum – some people join and immediately act like assholes, and are surprised when they get treated appropriately. Other people join and are respectful, and they are treated appropriately too. Its a simple equation.

Join a forum with guns blazing, the insults and defensive attitude on full-blast and saying “I’m not nice, deal with it,” makes you 100% responsible for the way you’re treated by others.

How like that other forum, SLU is. And how un-coincidental that they’re my two favourite internet communities ever.

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Gender and Disclosure in Second Life

This is a collection of thoughts that sprang out of an interesting thread on the SLU forums, in which the OP lamented the fact that as a lesbian woman, she found it incredibly difficult to find other genuine RL lesbians with whom to form relationships, and instead was disppointed by the number of “lesbians” who were, in fact, straight men with female avatars. The purpose of this post is to correlate my thoughts on this and related matters, and expand on them a bit. Be warned for tl;dr.

This whole issue is an ethical minefield, and because of my own situation it is also one that touches very close to home.

The main question that seems to arise from this situation is, if your RL gender does not match the gender of your avatar, at what point, if ever, does it become mandatory to disclose this fact? And at what point does failure to disclose it become an act of deliberate deceit? The general consensus was “it depends”, and the things it depends on vary from one person to another, and one situation to another.

It is fairly accurate to say that the majority of SL users fall into one of two camps.; On the one hand you have people who take other people’s SL avatars at face value, and they do not mind if reality differs from that; they treat the other person as though they are who their avatar appears to be. On the other hand you have the group of people for whom SL is a tool for interacting with a RL person, and for that group, the identity of the typist is far more important than the identity of the avatar. The problems arise when a person from one group hooks up with a person from the other group and one or both of them have not made their position clear from the outset.

The situation that arose in the original post is clearly one of deceit. A straight guy wanting a bit of hot girl-on-girl pixel-porn dresses up in a girl’s avatar, goes to a lesbian club and picks up another girl and starts dating her. Only after several days does he confess that he’s really a guy. Kudos for him that he actually admitted it at all, many don’t, ever. But to string her along for days, to take her on dates under false pretenses… the deceipt began with the first IM, and I think that is despicable.; The amusing thing about all of that is the thought that two blonde lipstick lesbians hooking up are actually two straight guys both of which would be absolutely horrified if they thought they were wanking off to another bloke.

This leads to the development in SL of the A/S/L – pics – voice – webcam conundrum, where many guys are just too afraid to get involved without knowing for absolutely certain that the female avatar they’re chatting with is a female in RL. It starts with A/S/L – but the girl might be lying. So they ask for RL pics. But they might be pics of someone else – so they ask for Voice – but that might be cheating using a voice modulator – so they demand web-camming… and so it goes on. (And makes me wonder why they are even bothering trying to pick up girls online at all if their paranoia is so great that they distrust everyone they meet).

But there are other reasons for guys (or girls) to have avatars that do not match their own RL gender, and here’s where the ethical waters start to get murky.

Lets take situation two. Woman A is, in RL, a bisexual female with a slight preference for other women. She is of the type of player that really doesn’t care about anyone else’s RL identity – she takes everyone at face value, and states openly that she does not mind if the person behind the keyboard is male or female. Woman B is in RL a straight man who is experimenting with a female avatar for fun and personal curiosity, just to see what it’s like. He choses NOT to tell woman A that he is male in RL. They hook up and have a lot of fun together. Is that deceipt too?

Now lets look at situation three. A post-operative transsexual woman, who was born biologically male, but fully identifies as female, has completed medical transition and has offically changed gender and become female. She has a female avatar in SL. Is this deceipt? Is there a point at which it becomes essential for her to disclose her previous gender?

Situation four – same woman, with a female avatar in SL, but ten years younger, and this time still pre-op. Maybe cross-dressing full time in RL, and identifying internally as female, but still having a RL body which is physically male.Is this different from situation 3, and if so, on what grounds?

This is the situation that matches my own, except the other way round, gender-wise. I regard myself as transgendered, female to male; I cross-dress near enough 24/7/365, but for practical reasons (mainly financial ones) I have not and probably will never make the magic medical transition. So… is it unethical of me to not disclose this to all I meet in-world? It’s an odd situation, being transgendered in SL, because I don’t feel that it’s my SL avatar thats the wrong gender. My SL gender is right, it’s my RL avatar that’s wrong. I cannot possibly say that I’m female in RL because this is blatantly not true – there’s nothing female about me except for my reproductive organs. At the same time, I can’t honestly say that I’m male because physically, I am not. The only way out of this dilemma I can find, without deliberately lying, is to be completely up-front and honest about being transgendered. Unfortunately doing that has totally ruined any chance I might have had of any sort of relationship in SL – straight girls and gay guys don’t want to know because I’m not male. Lesbians and straight guys don’t want to know because I’m not female.

In the end, I’m fairly unusual as far as transgendered/transsexual people in SL go. Most of them do not disclose at all, partly because it ruins the immersion, and partly because in many cases SL is the only place where they can truly pass as being the gender they feel they should be. I certainly would not expect a transgendered person to disclose their RL situation. As far as I’m concerned, a TG man is a man and a TG woman is a woman, regardless of the genitals they were born with. But then again I am bisexual and it really makes no difference to me if my partner is male, female, or somewhere inbetween. I can understand it being different for someone who is 100% gay or 100% straight, where the mere thought of being with someone of the wrong gender is a complete physical turn-off. So I can see how, for some lesbian women, that a transgendered woman doesn’t quite meet the required standard.

The problem is not everyone who has a male body in RL and a female avatar, is either TS or TG. Some of them are just straight guys wanting to watch a bit of hot girl-on-girl porn and they figure the easiest way to get it is to be one of those girls. Its these straight guys playing sexual games for their own entertainment, those are the asshats that are being deliberately deceitful. But where do we draw the line, if the other woman (as in Situation #2 above) says that she doesn’t mind? Would it be deceitful for a guy (maybe a closet gay or bi-curious guy) to put on a female avatar and pretend to be a straight girl for me? I’m inclined to say no, I don’t consider that deceitful, because gender isn’t a deciding factor for me. Likewise I would believe it’s not deceipt for the woman in situation 2 either.

One thing is for certain – every situation is going to be different, and the answers to the above questions will not be the same for everybody. The most important thing in any relationship, whether it’s in SL or not, is for both parties to be absolutely clear with each other right at the outset, what they’re looking for,l and if one of them does not match the others’ needs then it’s just wrong to lie about it.

With all of that in mind, I updated my SL profile today.

Dream of Dakota

Years and years ago, long before SL was even invented, I had a dream. In this dream I had a wife and two teenage children, and the four of us were on the run, for a reason I never did recall. The world we were in seemed like it was in the future, but a gritty and harsh kind of future. Our journey was taking us north across the States: there was this strong sense of having to reach the border, and then we’d be safe. At one point we were crossing a vast wheatfield, and we came across an old rusted locomotive, where we sheltered for the night. I remember looking at a map in the dream, spreading it out across the rusted metal, tracing the way we were going. When I woke up, that map was burned into my brain and I looked it up in an atlas. We were in North Dakota, headed straight for Winnipeg. I never knew if we ever got there – I woke up before we got to the border.
 
Not so long ago I saw some pics of The Far Away, and when I saw them, I nearly choked on my coffee. This is the wheatfield from my dream, and this is the rusty locomotive.

Luminosity Homes

Today I listed my first item for sale on X-Street and On-Rez.

This prefab home is in the Lumi series which is based on a modern,Scandinavian style featuring timber framed construction, open-planrooms and hardwood floors. The houses are economic on prims and arelight and spacious with large decorative windows. The Lumi house may,if you wish, be used easily as a skybox.

All Lumi houses are supplied with doors and fireplaces. The secondstorey is accessed by stairs and not a teleporter. The fireplace isseperate from the main house and may be removed, thus saving 9 prims.

Please note that doors do not feature locking scripts, and windows donot have tint function, however as they are modifyable you may feelfree to add your own should you wish.

The entire house is copy-mod so you may re-texture it. HOWEVER: Pleasemake a copy first, as I do not supply individual textures with thepurchase and if you over-write an original texture you will not be ableto get it back. I will not replace a house that has been re-textured.

DIMENSIONS:

The Lumi 30 has a footprint of 20x30m and will fit easily on a 2048parcel. It is 2 storeys high, and the approximate total height is 10m.It will also fit on a standard square 1024 parcel but it will be VERYcramped and will go right up to your borders so it is not reccommended.If you have a smaller parcel please be sure you know not just the areabut also the length and width of your property.

Prim count: 82 total (73 without fireplace)


http://www.xstreetsl.com/modules.php?name=Marketplace&file=item&ItemID=1079080

http://shop.onrez.com/item/871488


See and download the full gallery on posterous

weird texture bug.

weird texture bug.
It seems to paste the screenshot of my screen display onto my avatar's texture. The UI is visible. It is visible to other people, and it returns to normal when I do a rebake, but then it randomly happens again. I've never seen this on any other avatar. I should post this to the JIRA, if only I know how.

new nifty service

new nifty service
I've been hunting about for a way to post directly from Second Life to my WordPress blog, which means finding a way to do it via email. Which isn't actually supported by wordpress.com. I knew there was a way because I can do it via Flickr, but the trouble with that is it always takes the SL logo and makes that a seperate Flickr pic and a seperate blog entry, so the entry gets duplicated and I have to go in and edit it again. Well I think I found an answer. http://www.posterous.com allows me to send a snapshot directly fron inside SL, not only to WordPress.com but to LJ as well, and pretty much anything else. It even puts he SLURL in too. Nifty.