And it’s a question that I’ve never had to ask myself, until now.
In all my years of being a Second Life resident (almost 8 years now, eeep!), I’ve never been especially harassed by trespassers at my various abodes. Sure, a few times I’ve rezzed into my home-space and found someone enjoying my furniture and epic decorating skills (obviously!), but it’s never troubled me enough to want to inflict ban lines (urgh) on my neighbours, or invest in a security device. The prompt for this change of opinion occurred two nights ago. I logged in at my new residence, a beautiful Brownstone that I recently took ownership of in the delightful Sunshine Mist community. I had coveted these residences from afar, because I particularly love Harlow Heslop’s epic landscaping skills, so when one became available I jumped at the opportunity to rent. I wanted to feel a sense of community, especially as we enter the Holiday season, and the idea of having neighbours again appealled to me. As I write I’m still busily moving my stuff (read: cats) into the property, and it’s fabulous fun.
I’m incredibly fussy when it comes to virtual home-making, it has to be *just* right (I’m a Virgo, ’nuff said) so I’m having a grand-old time making the space feel like home. All the pleasure, with none of the pain (Although fitting virtual curtains is a challenge and a half, let me tell you! )I find decorating virtual houses exceptionally relaxing after a long, hard day in teh real world, and I take great pleasure from it, as I’m sure regular readers can tell. One of my favourite toys as a child was my doll’s house, and I think my love for that has somehow relocated into the virtual world. It’s incredibly relaxing decorating from behind a keyboard, and there are some absolutely amazing items in Second Life that you can decorate with ( I relish my daily read of LTD!). and, for me, it’s chill out time. Behind the screen in real life I’m enjoying a brew and listening to music,on-screen I’m moving a wardrobe or changing the colour of the cushions at the touch of a button. It’s bliss, it really is, and it makes me so happy.
So I was a little rattled when my home was, for want of a better phrase, intruded upon. I logged in, and as soon as I did I realised someone was in the house. At this point I wasn’t concerned, and soon identified that my visitor was sat on my kitchen sofa, drinking a cup of tea. I wandered down the steps and into the kitchen-space, and as I did so the rather well-dressed intruder jumped to her feet. Now, at this point I wasn’t angry, nor was I considering making a fuss. I was (if anything), curious, and had things progressed a different way I’d have sat next to her on said sofa and poured her another cup. She was no newbie, not by the way she was dressed, that’s for sure. She was sporting a quality skin, and a retro look; in other words, the kind of look that would take time to perfect. Yet, according to her account, she was three days old?!
I actually saved the chat-log, but I’m not going to name names, because I think I was dealing with an alt.Not only that, but an alt who either didn’t have English as a first language, or who was actually taking the piss, and not in a funny way. (All spelling appears as it did in-world. Comments afterwards are obviously mine:)
[10:42] Kitty Otoole: Hello:)
[10:42] XXXXX: Hi do you live here?
[10:42] XXXXX: Cause I move hear alredy (Really? So that’s why the house was empty when I moved in..)
[10:43] Kitty Otoole: Hi, yes, moved in yesterday
[10:43] XXXXX: so can you go please not saying in a bad way (I’m glad she wasn’t saying it in a bad way because, you know, I might have taken offence…)
[10:43] Kitty Otoole: Oh! Did Harlow Know? ( At this point, gullible Kitty that I am, I thought there had been a genuine mistake. That thought lasted a nanosecond..)
[10:43] XXXXX: yes (Fib! Fibby fib-fib!)
[10:43] Kitty Otoole: Oh ( I’m realising this is definitely a fib)
[10:43] XXXXX: So please.. (Detecting odd sense of desperation..)
[10:44] Kitty Otoole: Well I’d better have a word with her, so I can get my money back ( I put this out there because obviously I had paid rent upfront, and my mysterious visitor had not..)
[10:44] XXXXX: well ok (Ooh! Seems almost legit!)
[10:44] XXXXX: bye (RUDE)
[10:44] Kitty Otoole: You’d better return all my stuff as well (Bear in mind here peeps, she’s sat enjoying a rather lovely BAZAR kitchen, along with all my accessories, some epic NYLON PINKNEY artwork and a few cats. As well as a cup of tea.)
[10:44] XXXXX: no plaese (Eh?)
[10:44] XXXXX: i dont know were to live (No, but you know where to shop judging by that outfit/hairstyle/skin..)
[10:45] XXXXX: so can we live together tham (Hmm, how do I put this? NOPE.)
[10:45] XXXXX: please (A minute ago you were telling me to go, now you’re asking if you can stay?!)
At this point, I lost the plot. I don’t normally, I’m usually very easy-going and wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, I was feeling played here, and a tad pissed off. Had I not been tired and grumpy I might NOT have done this, and I’m NOT proud of it….
[10:45] Kitty Otoole: Go and find your own place like everyone else does.
[10:45] Second Life: Avatar ejected.
And that was the end of that. Two minutes of banter before I ban-hammered.
And you know what? I felt SO GUILTY. Did I over react? I mean this is a virtual world after all, so does it really matter that much?
Well, actually, yes it does. I’ve paid rent, bought furniture and invested in the Second Life economy. Had my intruder been a genuine newb I would have perhaps offered some advice about the best way to interact in Second Life (As I poured another cup of tea and offered them a biscuit of course. I’m nothing if not a cordial host!) But my visitor was, quite obviously, not being genuine with me.
Perhaps I’m just too trusting, and perhaps I assume incorrectly that everyone thinks the same as I do, that it IS possible to cultivate respect for fellow virtual citizens, just like your real life peers. But you know, this has started me questioning my own judgement, and now, for the first time in my virtual life, I’m considering installing a security device. And I really don’t like that thought at all. I’m having a virtual-existential crisis here guys!
Thing is, I LOVE seeing how people have decorated their virtual abodes, and I enjoy nothing more than wandering a sim and drooling over the interior ideas I spy around every corner but I set myself hard and fast rules. I always check if someone is in their home before I cam-in, and I NEVER go into a property uninvited. (Probably the only trait I share with a vampire!) But perhaps even that is too much, and I’m no better than my uninvited house-guest?
I get that Second Life can be daunting to a new member, and it can be expensive and alienating as well as welcoming and exciting, but just because this is a world of pixels and polygons it doesn’t mean we have to leave our manners at the log-in screen.
So the question remains, leave my house as is knowing that people will be able to enjoy it when I’m not around (something I’ve never had a problem with before), or do I hit the marketplace, and buy a security orb?
Readers, how do you feel about your virtual home? What do you think, am I over-reacting, or is this actually an issue that deserves more consideration?