Saturday, March 14, 2009

when true colors will bleed

Six pages into the forums, and Nany Kano is already getting heated responses from other residents. But Edward Vellhi had the most articulate of retorts:

Your choice of listed adult content betrays your biased view of its value and scope. Under the law, adult content includes nudity and "adult lyrics" and since the definition of "adult" is vague and subjective, providing it where it can be access by children is legally unsafe and good route to financial ruin. There are already plenty of PG-rated sims and any new resident who cares to can find them from the already PG new resident areas. Your assertion that rating and filtering SL content using the "same general rules" as is used for movies reflects a serious lack of thought on the realities of SL. Movie ratings are very subjective and the studios frequently have to wait to see what rating their films receive so they know what to change to ensure themselves of a PG rating.

Good valid points all. Lindal Kidd summed it up even more succinctly:

All four goals are laudable. All four are impossible to implement.

The ONLY way to isolate people from adult content is the method in use today: separate grids.

Go ahead, make a new grid, LL. Or expand the Teen Grid. Call THAT "Second Life", and let your kids and your corporations and your sensitive, moralistic prigs go there. Leave us adults here on the existing grid, with a new name, maybe. "Adult Life".

Not that you will. But if you did, I'll bet you L$100,000 that the Adult Life grid and economy grows faster than the squeaky clean Second Life one.

And I think Lindal's on the money, too.

Alexandra Rucker linked me to this post, featuring a Linden-backed statement saying they would not interfere with personal behavioral choices, preferring instead to leave that up to people who know the situations, know the stakes, and putting more local control in the hands of the residents, over taking it away and making their own rulings. So what changed?

Velcon Ethaniel said:

How about you do the opposite and flag all PG content?

Seriously... I don't think it's our duty to protect children, it's the parents duty...Not the governments, Not mine, and not SL's. SL has been a 18+ place for ages, please do not try and turn it into another IMVU...

Even that allusion has its flaws--as this page detailing problems with IMVU's rating system clearly portrays.

Random Merryman's entire forum posting is worth reading, but in particular, this bit caught my eye:

The damage this will do to the SL economy - the bit of it that LL don't like to put in their press releases, but which pays for so much of the other stuff - is going to be horrific. The drain of people to places (virtual worlds or otherwise) where they can still be anonymous will be huge.

And TaraLi Jie responds to Nany Kano's "the offenders should leave" comment:

That has the feel of saying to me that the person being mugged is responsible for not having enough money on hand to satisfy the mugger. Being offending is *NOT* being harmed.

Vye Graves says:

I don't think this needs to be about adult content, really. I don't want to be around 13 year olds... like, at all. It bothers me that we are assuming "Adult" == "Dirty". There are many reasons why you might not want adolescents included in activities that have nothing to do with adult content.

So, while i am not all that bothered by the segregation of adult content, i am more disturbed by the idea that anywhere that isn't [sleazy] is someplace kids need to be or are welcome to be. If i want to keep kids out, but let people know my area is still free of sexual material, how do you propose i do that?

I'm completely on Vye's side, by the way. If I wanted to spend time around thirteen-year-olds, I could. Easily. Nearly anywhere else. I don't want to most of the time, I want to hang out in places where more than text messaging, how unfair parents are and Naruto are discussed.

But more than that, if this issue were really, on the face of it, about restricting/altering adult content on SL, it still wouldn't matter. I mean, there are adults on Club Penguin having sex; in a supposedly "kid-friendly" ubersafe zone, where everyone is a fairly genderless portly penguin, adults are still finding ways to have sex.

More than that, if SL refurbished itself to eliminate all gender differences and baked on underwear layers for all skins--people would still have sex. From the polite ones in IM to the clueless wonder-newbs having sex in furniture shops, it would happen.

So it's not about that. We know that. So what is really going on?

I find it very telling that Lindens chime in every few posts or so to "reassure" people that this is the right move to make, yet when residents opine on potential grid unification (thus, dumping all the thirteen- to seventeen-year olds in with the rest of us), Linden commentary is notably absent.

Taly Fluffy recommends reclaiming the seas:

I have an idea. The Lindens should never have mixed all those PG sims in right next to Mature sims. Why don't they just lift all those PG sims out, move them all to a new continent, and have a PG continent? Total safety there for full families. (Where the PG sims were moved out of, could simply be water sims afterward.)

And why can't we go with that? Reinforce sailing on SL, mer colonies, maybe scatter precious little mini-islands here and there with art pieces and music playing. Very tasteful, huge boost in tourism.

And the PG sims would have their own family friendly space, for live concerts, library events, schools, sock hops, barn raising, education, intellectual debate, plus playgrounds, daycare centers, childrens' education, birthing centers and midwife training, law offices, office parks, virtual work training, virtual colleges...why couldn't the Lindens do that instead?

Jeska Linden muddies the waters by page nine:

To be clear, the blog states there are three main features involved in this change:

* Provide a way to geographically separate Adult content to a new part of the "mainland" designed
* Filter search results, so that those who do not wish to see "Adult" results will not
* Require that those who access or see "Adult" content (whether on land or in search) have had their accounts verified – such as by a payment or age verification method.

And here's the first place I got seriously confused.

1) So it's not going to be the new continent of Pervistan, but instead, a segregated area of the mainland? Are you high? All anyone who wants to see adult content has to do, then, is to find where the PG/"Adult" sim lines are, and cam across! That has to be the single most insanely thickheaded idea I've ever heard out of a Linden.

2) Search returns are already filtered, so I don't get this one either. There's a little checkbox under search, where each of us can choose to have filtered results, or results that include Mature listings. I have never taken out any ad to be found through SL Search, from when I was a strip club manager, to when I escorted, that failed to list my ad as "Mature". I can't think of a single instance--though I'm sure folks will be able to find one, I'm just saying I haven't ever seen this--where mature services and businesses do not list as mature services and businesses.

3) And here we are again at age verification. Or payment verification, they say, which to me means attach a credit card listing to your account. Right?

Pete Linden stated that the original blog post had been updated:

-- How much of SL is adult oriented content?
Based on our research, we estimate that around 2-4% of content on the mainland would be considered Adult according to our current thinking on defining that. For all of Second Life, our content research shows it is around 5%. In other words, 95% of Second Life either mature or PG.. Again, we estimate that only around 2-4% of the mainland parcels would need to either relocate or reconfigure to meet the requirements in our current thinking, but of course we are looking for your feedback to help define that.

Personally, I think they're wrong, or their slippery and vague definition of "Adult" is vastly different from yours and mine.

-- What about adult activity in private on the mainland? e.g. Is Linden Lab making rules about what I can do in my own house on the Mainland?
Nope. We are talking about public behavior and events, businesses and listings that are meant to drive explicit sexual and violent activity.

And I'm beginning to think, realistically, that "explicit sexual content" means something different to the Lindens than to me, and "violent activity" means specifically rape, not shooting people.

-- What about objects/avatars/groups that some consider inherently related to specific sexual activities or preferences - e.g. furries, sexy clothing, etc. - will that be considered 'Adult content'?
We're still working on tight definitions (which we'd like your help with) on what is considered Adult, but in general sexy clothing, skins, and furries aren't inherently explicitly sexual, and stay in the Mature areas (i.e. won’t need to move to the Adult continent).

Translated: "We're coming up with some great ideas for what isn't "Adult" content; thanks for your input! Please let us know if we can vague anything else up for you."

Doubledown Tandino muses on what people are choosing to view and interact with on the grid:

How is it currently unavoidable? I don't look for sex every day in SL and every day I don't find it. Why are the people that don't want xxx in their face getting xxx in their face?

Yeah, why is that happening? And generally, I hear it the other way 'round, just for the record: "OMG, you guys, I went looking for a sex bed and I ended up in a birthing clinic! Prim babies EVERYWHERE! I nearly broke something trying to port out! ROFL!"

Doubledown also said:

Seems to me land owners make what they want, people decide if they want to arrive and stay... seems like a very simple and easy concept.

Agreed. And the last in the Doubledown run:

It's funny that all this about protecting the potentially offended.

... meanwhile, every single [adult,] or mature, or xxx type person in SL was just offended today by LL for banishing them to the outskirts of the community.

Yeah, funny how it's only "offense" if it's pointed towards the straitlaced fundamentalist contingent; yet it's not supposed offense at all if they offend saying dancing leads to immorality and devil worship (actual RL law in Washington), or throwing blood or red paint on fur coats (some of which are or were heirlooms, and thus never part of the "widespread slaughter" PETA so protests), or protesting our parades or our funerals holding signs that say GOD HATES FAGS (Reverend Wildmon's imbecilic bunch).

No, it seems it's perfectly apropos to offend us; but the gods help any of us who so offend them...

Let's let Felix Oxide wrap this entry up, on page twelve:

It's amazing how I must actually look for adult content on the grid if I want to find any, yet there apparently is an epidemic of people that see it everywhere they go in SL and cannot get away from it. [Truly] amazing.

Long, long time ago, in the dusty ages of pre-history, there was a quirky little near-zine publication called Taste of Latex. A gay friend of mine, and my at the time very religious aunt, a year apart went through the same issue, that issue featuring dykes and guns, both held in provocative ways.

Both people kept shaking their heads, flipping pages, occasionally murmuring words that added up to "wrong" and "bad".

Both people--a year apart from each other, remember!--upon closing the magazine, promptly opened it again to look through.

Be not afraid of what your eyes see. Be afraid of what your mind sees. Or maybe better, don't be afraid of either, and understand that humanity is wide, diverse, quirky, baffling, and quite, quite divergent. What arouses, and what terrifies (and for some people, both at the same time) varies widely, person to person.

If you don't want to see sex on SL, don't go to places where sex generally is. Caledon's lovely this time of year...and I guarantee, the percentage of gentles having sex on the lawns measures in the microfractions, if they measure at all.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the compliment. :-) -- Edward Vellhi

Emilly Orr said...

You're more than welcome.

Honestly, if anything *new* happens on this issue, I may be strolling through the forum posts again, but it's all gone stark raving at this point.

Until the Lindens come forward with a workable--and by workable, I mean, non-vague, vaguely rational, and actually relating to dictionary understandings of the word--definition of Adult...we won't be going anywhere but around in circles.

And it's not like they're going to change plans--whatever the hell those plans are--anyway.