Monday, June 29, 2009

Lindens In Our Bedrooms (Move To Zindra)

Well big brother has done it again. Although they claim not to be the government here nor act as the police, Linden Lab® is again proving they are by banning more activities. On the heels of bans against gambling and banking, the Lab’s most recent foray into our bedrooms is to ban adult activity on the mainland. While on the surface that may sound appropriate lets take a closer look. First here’s their official position:

5. Adult Regions, Groups, and Listings Second Life is an adult community, but 'Adult' content, activity and communication are not permitted on the Second Life 'mainland.' Such material is permitted on private regions, or on the Adult Continent, Zindra. In either case, any Adult content, activity, or communication, that falls under our Adult Maturity Definition must be on regions designated as 'Adult,' and will be filtered from non-verified accounts. Other regions may be designated as either 'Mature' or 'PG.' For more information on how to designate land, events, groups, and classified listings, please carefully read the 'Maturity Definitions.'

The scary part of this is the communication part. I’m not sure exactly what they mean by communication nor how they plan to police it but it certainly leads for some weird possibilities. First, if I own land (and yes, they do use the term “own” as well), shouldn’t I be able to act as I deem fit on that land as long as I don’t break any laws. (and adult communication is not against the law). If I speak to my partner about sex, never mind have sex, am I in violation? Can I and my friends not have a frank discussion about sex? Is anyone with a Sex bed required to move or dispose of the bed?

I don’t think so. While I think their intention is to do away with open and blatant forms of sexual content, their wording leaves that determination of what is sexual content open. In fact, in some comments made by the lab, they imply that they will focus primarily on the advertising of adult material. That's fine, but that's not the way the policy is worded. Since it will be Linden Lab® making that decision, we will be at their mercy. Surely my partner and I having sex in our home can’t be viewed as adult content. But in the eyes of the Second Life® government, common sense as usual is thrown out the window.

Moreover, what this is really about is not adult content specifically but control excercised by those who can exert it. While this community is on the surface about its residents and their creations, it has been obvious to those of us who spend time here that it isn't so. It is about Linden Lab® excerising their control and will over the Second Life® inhabitants.

Communication is crucial in relationships, personal or business and once again, Linden Lab® have forgotten that. While they claim to seek input from residents, as they have in the past, seldom do they take the residents concerns to heart and go ahead with their plans anyway. Their little fiefdom of Second Life® while a novel concept in the beginning has become less about the residents and more about the control over it by the Lab. Acting like a government in any other form, they continue running Second Life® through favouritism, nepotism and without common sense.

"There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." Those unforgettable words made famous by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1967. Linden Lab® in their zeal to attract corporate investors, big time players and to drive up the value of Second Life® have again ignored the residents and instead force their will upon them.

Sex is a big reason why a lot of people venture in to Second Life®. While not all of us do nor is it a sustained theme, it is an attraction and what a good many (maybe even majority) of the people in Second Life® participate in. Here in Second Life® they can act out fantasies, role play and do a lot of things they either don’t’ have the courage to do in real life or are not able to. Many communities in Second Life® have sex as an integral part of their existence.

What we have now, aside from private sims, is those groups and activities will now be forced to relocate to the adult continent. Again, on the surface, that probably doesn’t seem like a bad thing. However, it looms like a cloud over the non adult mainland where surely land prices will drop and some remain vacant. Business, not only adult oriented business, will suffer as adult business is forced to move and take their traffic with them. The hygienic mainland left behind, void of casinos, banks and adult content can carry on its merry way doing whatever it does.

It’s not that I’m against adult content being in your face, but censoring it completely by banning it to its own continent is not what I would call effective. Linden Lab® could have put controls in place, as they could have with casinos and banks and regulate what can be public. It’s done in real life. But since the Lab continues to claim they aren’t the police, they won’t do that. Instead they ban and segregate. I wonder what is next.

Here are a few quotes that I feel are appropriate:

"Those are governed best who are governed least."-- Thomas Jefferson

"The sheep are happier of themselves, than under the care of wolves."-- Thomas Jefferson

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."-- Barry Goldwater

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