Second Life is not one world

Most of the real nonsense contained in the recent slhamlet blog post about the "skewed" perspective of Second Life has been addressed: people have pointed out that his characterisation of some of the regions in "the list" doesn't match what's seen in the region (or that the alleged popularity isn't actual popularity); people have pointed out that adult doesn't actually mean there is extreme of violent content on a region; people have also pointed out that you don't "fix" the perceived negative perception of the grid by being negative about positive perceptions (yes, that one tied my brain in knots too).

Pretty much all the content and the claimed motivation of the post has been nicely dealt with.

That's not to say that those critical of the blog post don't have their own distorted view of the grid's content either. I think that's worth keeping in mind too.

With all that aside, I've being thinking more about how people view the grid -- especially when being critical of it -- and I've come to the (not exactly novel) conclusion that the whole "if you don't show the parts of SL that I want people to view as bad" narrative is simply nonsense.

Normally click-baiting nonsense.

The sort of motivation that would have had me using the title "There is no adult Second Life" for this post, for example.

The thing is: there really is no adult Second Life.

No, really, there isn't.

I have, along with a small group of other people who like to share it with me, a region. That region is rated adult. The reasons why it's rated adult obviously encompass the fact that the public parts of the region allow for activities that can be enjoyed by and should only be enjoyed by consenting adults. I have a dress code for the public part of the region that allows for full nudity. If people want to create erotic scenarios in public I'm completely fine with that too. As long as all activities are well within the bounds of what the grid allow I'm likely fine with it.

These things are very rare to see on the region but I have the region rated Adult so that adults can make informed decisions about where they go and what they visit. There is no extreme content here. The region is very much themed with adult relationships in mind that revolve around the mutual and consenting enjoyment of dominance and submission, but when you land and walk about you're really not going to find the sorts of thing that some people think an Adult rating means.

It's that simple: it's an Adult-rated region so that adults can make adult decisions before even visiting.

But Raven Park and Z&A are not part of "Adult Second Life". They're not part of "Adult Second Life" because there is no such thing as "Adult Second Life". There are lots of adult regions on Second Life -- there are even lots of regions that have similar themes on Second Life -- but "Adult Second Life" is not a coherent whole.

Neither is "Fashion Second Life". Neither is "Aviation Second Life". Neither is "Fantasy Role Play Second Life". Neither is.... well, you get the idea.

Even more to the point, those loose groupings of similar-themed regions especially aren't a single entity called Second Life.

Second Life is a platform. It's a set of tools. It's a protocol upon which people can create things and express themselves and enjoy the creations of others.

Second Life is not one world.

This fact, for me, is the reason why I find the original slhamlet article so shallow, why it gives the perception that the author lacks even a basic understanding of the grid (yes, yes, I know... that's what makes it all the more hilarious and further gives the impression that it was disingenuous click bait, lacking only an Upworthy-style headline to really give the game away). Unless you're writing about the tools, the protocols, the underlying design of the grid; there is no need or requirement to report about every single style of region that exists.

It makes perfect sense to me that someone would write an article that documents what their curated visit showed them. It also makes perfect sense to me that a curated visit would be... well, curated. Even in my own narrow "not really a world" corner of Second Life -- what we'd loosely call "The Femdom Community" -- if I were asked to show someone around I'd obviously show the places I like, that I appreciate, that I consider to be good examples, that I can speak about with confidence, that are chosen by informed opinion.

I absolutely would not show every single place that shows in search under the term "Femdom".

The reasons I wouldn't do that are:

  1. Not all of them are actually Femdom locations.
  2. Not all of those that are Femdom locations are to my taste.
  3. I don't even know them all and I like my opinions to be informed when I share them.
And, at no point, should I ever be expected to treat every single findable region or plot that employs that term in search as a coherent whole. Because they're not.

It's simple really: Second Life is not one world. It's a rambling collection of loosely-connected and crazily overlapping builds that, if curated correctly, will delight you.

I think, in my 9 years on the grid (starting with my original avatar), I've probably explored 1% of it. No silly "most visited" list will dictate how I view the other 99%.


  1. Hey Antony, found your blog through Twitter and really impressed with what you've written here. The thoughtful discourse that's come from the NWN post almost makes the clickbait nature of it worthwhile; it's brought up a lot of thoughtful points about what Second Life really is -- whatever we want it to be -- and how you can never truly get the full picture, or even part of it, unless you experience it for yourself.

    I look forward to visiting Raven Park soon!

    1. While I get your point I like to think that, out there, there's lots of thoughtful, writing happening all the time that covers what it means it build and take part in virtual worlds. So I'd be unlikely to agree that these things have come *from* that blog post, but I would agree with the idea that a few extra connections have been made this week.

      So, good things in spite of, rather than because of, the post in question. ;)

      (and your comment means I have another SL blog to add to my feed reader -- always a good thing)

    2. Ahhh, well spotted! I'm enthused by the discussion it stirred up amongst those who may not necessarily have blogs, in comment sections and on Twitter for example, but you're right: there are so many more thoughtful and prolific writers in the SL community who celebrate and appreciate the diversity of the virtual world all the time. I just wish everyone had their blog listed in one centralized location! Although hopping through blogrolls - where I *think* I came across yours - often leads to some quality gems. :)

    3. Yeah, the one thing I've failed to find is any sort of overarching SL-related blog registry/superfeed type of thing. There's plenty that collect together specific subject areas (fashion feeds being a very obvious example) but I don't think I've ever found a very general one.

      On the other hand blog-jumping to find them does tend to be rather rewarding. :)