Second Life Slides – Inevitably – Into Virtual Kiddie Porn Realm

From the ick files: I’ve been alternately fascinated and repelled by Second Life, the virtual world where 6 million people around the globe pursue virtual lives. But when I found out that some of those virtual people, or avatars, were having virtual sex with virtual teens and children — in exchange for real virtual money — the needle got stuck way on the repelled side.

Virtual sex with a virtual child is illegal in Germany, but not in America.

The whole idea of Second Life was creepy to me in the first place, but then, I have enough trouble keeping up with my non-virtual existence to imagine having to live in a parallel universe simultaneously. But Second Life has hosted politicians like former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Reuters and C-Net both have news bureaus there that report on happenings in the virtual world, L$1.93 in Linden dollars is traded in-world every month (that’s about $62.5 million real dollars), and some people have quit their real-world jobs to work full time in Second Life and are making a living at it.

Now German police are investigating reports of child pornography and virtual sex between adult and seemingly under-aged avatars. Seemingly, because there are real people who will take on childlike “skins” in Second Life and have sex as if they were children with adult avatars. Second Life’s touted age verification function apparently is pretty easy to circumvent. Virtual sex with a virtual child is illegal in Germany, but not in America. Same with virtual bestiality, which is reportedly also happening in Second Life.

When I first heard about Second Life, it reminded me of a Philip K. Dick science-fiction short story whose name escapes me. In the story, people in a remote mining colony on Mars play a virtual game using a dollhouse and figurines. By taking a drug, the real people inhabit the dolls and the dollhouse and have collective hallucinations where they explore different relationships with each other and take on different characters and personalities, and even have sex. But when the drugs run out, the social fabric of the colony crashes and real life gets really bad.

Trouble is, in Second Life, unless the world’s power grid fails, there will be no crash. And it’s not surprising that humans would import all that’s bad from the real world into Second Life — it’s natural for humans to contaminate their space, real or virtual. So you have drugs, sex for Linden dollars, virtual child pornography for sale and virtual criminals out to separate naive avatars from their hard-earned Linden dollars.

What really bothers me about Second Life, though, is that while people spend an average of 40 hours a month in that virtual world, the real world is getting progressively worse. There are very real political, social and environmental problems right here, right now, that don’t penetrate the walls of Second Life. It’s kind of like the millenialist Christians who say, Why bother with global warming, the end of the world and the coming of Jesus is nigh — global warming indeed is just another sign of the end times.

Why bother with the problems of the real world if you can stay hunched over your keyboard in whatever basement or cave you’ve descended to to get away from the harsh glare of a world gone wrong, making and spending your Linden dollars in a place that consumes only one extremely valuable non-renewable resource — time.

One comment

  • EvilPoet
    May 9, 2007 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    We are the creators, the dungeon masters if you will. As we go through life it is our dungeons that we fill. We say one day we will clean it out with goodness and light. Someday we will make what’s wrong right. But someday is always tomorrow, can’t take it right now. I really would like to clear it out but I am not sure how. So we throw failure on to the pile and shove it further away. It’s funny how we react when it returns on another day. We walk around as victims, like there is nothing for us to do. We mindlessly claim, it can’t be me it must be you. For if we really take this problem and call it our own. It is only weakness that we have shown. Take responsibility for how we go through life? We would rather stab ourselves with a knife! So we keep adding to the dungeon day after day, hoping someone else will come by and sweep it away. Like puppets on a string, lemmings going out to sea, never being more then we deem or doom ourselves to be. The light shines brightly, yet we all stumble in the dark. Searching for the answers to questions right from the start. Looking everywhere but inward for where the problems reside. We are the spirits that walk but we are barely alive.

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