|Mary the Elephant, Lynched in Erwin, Tennessee, 13 September, 1916|
|A High-Tech Lynch Mob, 2 April, 2011, Help Island Public. The Headless Victim is at Center|
Written 2 April, 2011
A High-Tech Lynching
I saw something ugly tonight, and I'm afraid to say I was caught up in it for a time, until I processed what was going on and tried to put a stop to it.
I was hanging out at Help Island Public, along with about 40 other avatars, when a one-day-old new resident appeared and managed, in the space of three short minutes, to antagonize almost everyone.
It started in a small way when an older resident welcomed her to Second Life and called her man. You know, like "Welcome to Second Life, man." She said "I"m not a man!" He apologized, telling her he had read the wrong tag in the crowd.
She then said hello to everyone. But then she made the mistake of bragging. She said she had just gotten home from a photo shoot in a club. She hated the smoke, but they paid her $3000 USD for 30 minutes work, she said.
That started it. The resident bully, a popular DJ in Second Life said, "Of course they are." When she said she did it for the fans and mentioned she was an Eye Candy model, he called BS on her. From then on everything she said was somehow wrong. Before long most of the people present were picking on her, ridiculing her, sniping at her. Eventually she snapped back, and the bully's girlfriend decided she was the target.
That's when the lynching really began.
Suddenly her avatar was being animated and deformed, and against her will.. She was hunching the air, rolling on the ground, sticking her head up her backside, spinning her head like a top. Eventually she was grossly deformed, stretched out 50 meters in all directions.
This went on for an hour (I timed it from the chat log). Through it all she kept asking why her person was behaving so. Through it all people kept saying horrible things to her and laughing at her. It was a high-tech lynching.
I had participated at first, but found it increasingly unfunny as the scene continued to play out. I was in IM with a friend who was also present. He grew upset before I did, and our conversation helped me understand early on that something horrible was happening.
I made a few feeble attempts to stop it, but the group dynamic was going strong and the lynching continued. So I IMed the victim and talked to her at length to make sure she understood she was being abused. She wound up friending me, which made me feel a bit guilty.
The more I process what happened, the more angry I become. I'm mad at the people who led the pack, I'm angry at the people who followed, I'm angry at whoever deformed her, and I'm angry at myself for not coming to my senses sooner and for not trying harder to stop the lynching.