Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Some Thoughts on Child Avatars: II. Hands Off!

Written 14 July, 2009

Some Thoughts on Child Avatars

II. Hands Off!

Because they unsettle so many of Second Life’s residents, child avatars are banned from many regions. That’s the prerogative of the sim’s owner (although it DOES make the sim the twenty-first analog of a 1950s “all-white” café). Discrmination is discrimination. If you ban child avatars on the basis of individual appearance and behavior, good on you. If you ban them because they belong to a particular class of avatar, well, wear your I’m a Bigot sign proudly.

Bigotry isn’t a good thing (although people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly would probably claim otherwise—but it’s an individual choice. Bigotry injures people only when it’s expressed, and most people don’t express it, or express it only in what they deem to be safe situations, as when a friend started sending me racist Obama material during the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. I called her on it.

In Second Life, bigotry against child avatars fuels something far worse—harassment and ridicule and griefing. All child avatars have experienced this, and more than a few adult avatars who chose to be a few inches shorter than the 2+ meter Second Life height norm. Let’s face it: being 5’3” tall in SL can get you harassed—even if you’re 50 years old and 5’3” on Earth. Horribly harassed.

Marianne McCann has written extensively of this in the Metaverse Messenger and elsewhere. Marianne (who it turns out I know in RL) is one of the few child avies who doesn't rub me the wrong way. She plays her avatar more like a real child, a smart child with language skills.

It’s just not right to harass child avatars simply because they’re child avatars. Ignore them if you must, mute them if you must, ban them if you must, but if you verbally abuse them, bump them, or threaten them, you’re in the wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now, this I agree with.

I will agree that some versions of child avatar can be annoying - the bad "icklespeak" etc. But that's just poor roleplaying. I can say the same of gesture abusers, Master/slave roleplay in SL malls, talking quadropeds, on and on.

It's really sad that people bring their intolerance into a virtual world. Live and let live - and if you can't, just teleport out of there.