Friday, June 13, 2008


Within the last, say, two weeks, I've had no less than three of my adult friends ask me in a sidelong "hint hint" kind of way about adoption. In all three cases I kind of deflected the question and changed the subject. Because of the sudden interest, I guess I ought to write a bit about my feelings on adoption.

For those of you unfamiliar (listen to me talk, like I've got a huge readership), one of the things many kid avs in SL do is participate in family groups, having others as parents or siblings. These families form sometimes by themselves; other times, adults can go to SL adoption agencies, where they can view profiles of kids (and vice-versa sometimes). The profiles tell the potential parent or child what the candidate family member's interests and expectations are. For a fee, the adoption agency will then coordinate a meeting between the adults and kids to see if they're compatible. Some families are families in only the most technical sense, treating each other more as friends than relatives. Others, I'm told, role-play family life in very detailed ways.

When I first got into SL as a kid, I checked out all the kid-related stuff there is to do; that included the whole adoption business. I asked around and looked around. I found the whole thing a bit fascinating. I began to think about what it would be like to have a SL parent...a place to live and rez stuff, someone guaranteed to talk to me and hang out when things got boring. As over time I've done kind of good for myself - I've got a house and stuff, and I've got enough friends that there's always one or two on when I am - the appeal of having a family sort of waned. What remained were the disadvantages - parents are parents, after all. Should I give up my urchin life so some adults could impose a bedtime, and make me comb my hair (or - black horror - even CUT it maybe), make me take baths and change clothes once in a while, make me eat vegetables, make me go to SCHOOL....?

OK, so I'm being hyperbolic. Lots of that stuff has no meaning within the context of SL But I've been told by people whose opinions I trust that sometimes SL parents can be a drag. Being willing to call somebody in SL "mom" or "dad" is not something I think I would be capable of when dealing with someone I've only known for a week. So, for me at least, an adoption agency is out of the question.

That leaves friends. One of my kid friends, Soki, belongs to a family that just sort of gravitated together. Her, and her parents and brothers, were all friends to begin with, which makes having to put up with each other that much easier I guess. I suppose if I were to ever get adopted, it would have to be by someone I'm really good friends with.

But, that's exactly the problem. There's a couple of adults in SL I consider REALLY good friends, and I've tried to imagine myself calling them "mom" or "dad" - and it just doesn't work. They're too much my friends; the title "Mom" really redefines a relationship - to me, at least. It implies a heirarchy, a situation of a superior and a subordinate. Friends are equal. I like that.

If I think on it, it occurs to me that brothers and sisters are also "equal", in a sense. I suppose I wouldn't mind picking up some siblings. But parents? I think I'll hold off.

But for those of you who were kind of asking me about adoption - I sorta blew it off and I'm sorry about that. I don't want you to feel bad because I'm not interested - it doesn't mean in any way that I don't like you, or that I like you less than someone else. I've just been seduced by the urchin life. The long and short of it is, you're too COOL to be my parents.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Crisis Averted

Well, according to a recent post by Everett Linden, the entire situation was a misunderstanding. According to recents posts, comments, and chats from various persons, the truth is that LL caved to pressure. Which is true? I don't know. Either way, the effect is the same - kid-related builds SEEM to be allowed now. Those who were originally planning to submit kid builds are resubmitting them - time will tell what happens. If they're accepted, then I'll be able to visit SL5B with a clear conscience.

I've gotten third-hand word that some group or other was planning on building a seperate kid-themed event concurrent with SL5B, as a way of protesting the ban. Since the ban is lifted, I would suppose the need no longer exists; however, other third-hand information tells me they will be continuing with their designs anyway. Perhaps I'll stop in and have a look there as well.

In any case, I was duly and truly amazed at the response from the SL community as a whole to the alleged ban. As I've alluded in some of my earlier blog posts, I've ever believed that kid avs were more accepted in SL as a whole than many kid avs seemed to think; but the number of voices raised in support was something even I never expected. It feels good to be liked!

Thanks to all those who added their support to our plight. Party down!

Monday, June 2, 2008


A whole lot of people know by now that Linden Lab, the company which owns and operates Second Life, has decided that it will not permit builds submitted by the SL kid subculture to be entered as part of the SL5B celebration - although they will be allowed to attend. The given reason was that allowing such would not be in SL's best interest right this moment.

Although it hasn't been explicitly stated, many people have extrapolated that the motivation for LL's decision is recent bad publicity; to wit: a certain US Congressman's insistence that SL, because of its enormous wealth of adult-themed content, is dangerous to kids (RL kids, that is). The argument is that there are essentially no measures in place in prevent minors from pretending to be adults and accessing all of the explicit stuff. Therefore, says the Congressman, Second Life should be banned from places like schools and libraries.

Others have determined that the motivation for LL's decision is past bad publicity, in which some news outlets have exposed the fact that some people who use kid-sized avs in SL are using them for sexual purposes. This activity (called "ageplay"), though not explicitly illegal in many places, is still considered scandalous by the world at large, and is specifically prohibited by the SL Terms of Service.

Frankly, I tend to think it's the latter; simply because I don't see what the former really has to do with anything - unless the fear is that the two seperate issues will become juxtaposed should people with mercenary motives see a kid's build in one corner of a sim, and find a mature-themed build in the opposite corner, and proceed to draw the kind of Rube Goldberg-inspired conclusions that such people are good at coming up with. Yes, that could be very bad for LL.

So here we have it: a great, great many people are upset over this. Some of them blame LL for not "standing up" for those of its users - many who pay a considerable amount of money, I might add - who choose to innocently portray kids on SL. Others blame the Congressmen, and people who think like him, for drastically overstating problems and stoking irrational fears.

Well, my opinion on the matter is a bit different from most, I guess.

Firstly, Linden Lab is not an advocacy group. It's a business - in the business of staying in business. Businesses are inherently amoral entities; within certain ethical guidelines, their job is to make money for their investors, and to do things and change things in whatever way is necessary to achieve that end. What that means in this case, is that LL's duty, first and foremost, is to keep the Grid alive. If, in their opinion, directly supporting and advertizing the SL kid community would invite such criticism and scrutiny that it would be difficult for them to keep SL running, then (reluctantly) I can't begrudge them that decision. So, I don't blame LL for this, not really. Perhaps there is some culpability there, but it isn't a whole lot I don't think.

Secondly, the Congressman in question may be overstating things, true. But, he does raise some legitimate concerns - yes, there IS an exorbitant amount of mature-themed material in SL; and yes, it IS incredibly easy for a minor to gain access to it. Perhaps there's really nothing that can be done about those things, but they're still true. And why on earth would a library or school allow SL on their computers anyway? Playing on the computer isn't what libraries and school computer systems are for. Most of them probably couldn't even run SL, and in all likelihood those institutions wouldn't allow SL even despite Congressman Whatsit's rambling. All that is much ado about nothing. So, I can't even really say I blame the Congressman for this mess, either.

So who's to blame, then?

Well, it seems obvious to me. A lot of people object that so many see kid avs and automatically draw the conclusion that they're ageplayers. That is a shame, yes, but...who's fault is it? In my opinion - ageplayers. They, and those who (even today) openly advocate for their alleged "right" to do what it is they like to do. Yes, they exist - to deny the problem completely is at least as bad as overstating it, wouldn't you agree? Shoddy outfits like Sky News may have irresponsibly exaggerated the extent of the ageplay problem in SL - but they didn't invent it out of whole cloth.

The fact of the matter is, I get weary of contantly having to explain to new people that no, I'm not into that stuff, most SL kids aren't here for that, etc, etc. Why should I have to? I've done nothing wrong. I certainly don't remember having to assert my innocence constantly when I was a RL kid. But I do here. And I know well who's fault that is.

(Cody TP's into a new area, looking to do some exploring)
NOOB: ....ew! one of those freaks!
CODY: (spends a half an hour explaining that most SL kids aren't freaks)
NOOB: why u want 2 b a kid then?
CODY: (spends another twenty minutes explaining how he came to be a SL kid)
NOOB: ....
NOOB: .....ew! one of those freaks! (files an AR and TP's away)
CODY: :(

It irks me.

Luckily, I've run into a few very cool people who've already gotten a good impression of kid avs, so it's not all hopeless. I have the tireless efforts of kids like Marianne McCann to thank for that.

But the rest of the time? I'm left to apologize for the actions and attitudes of sick individuals whose only connection with me is avatar height. Think about it: if they weren't around - if nobody had one day seen what THEY do and spread the word - nobody would look at SL kids and automatically think "one of those freaks!". There would be no Sky News reports. There would be no "controversy".

And kids wouldn't be excluded from SL5B.

So, if you're a SL kid, and in the unlikely event that you run into an actual ageplayer...please, try and take some of your frustration over the current plight of SL kids out on them. And whether you're a kid or adult, when you run into an ageplayer - for heaven's sake, AR them so they can be banned.