Subject of many studies, lying on the Internet is a sensitive topic with many dark contours. Today we will restrict this subject to our virtual home, Second Life. On a platform for socialization, written words have a paramount importance as they translate facial expressions and carry a strong emotional charge. They are the eyes that cannot be seen and the voice that cannot be heard. Therefore, the same word can have different connotations when addressed to different targets. Although the lie is not a colorful word, it is necessary to take the context into account by going deeper into this subject and ask ourselves why we are in Second Life and how we use this platform.
For many residents, Second Life is a big role-playing scene where avatars are in character from the minute they login to the minute they log out. Sentences like “Second life is a great place for us to be who we always wanted to be” or “I don’t mix SL with RL” show us that there is a clear separation of what is real and of what is a reenactment of a character, whether a playboy with several accounts and with parallel lives; using avatars of the opposite sex for various purposes or any other infinite roles to fulfill the dreams that can’t be achieved due to the adversities of real life. . The major issue is: how can we spot someone who doesn’t have the intention of delivering us his/her truth?
For others, Second Life is a place for romance and the perfect opportunity to find soulmates and to create bonds of affection, either of friendship or of love. Although many have no intention of finding love, in one way or another most end up being carried away by the romantic atmosphere of many venues, or are fed by profiles filled with words of perfect love and lives that not always reflect the virtual reality.
When these two targets meet, the result is an emotional rollercoaster where lies get a higher dimension and certain nouns like pain, deception, and distrust among others reflect the impact of certain words on that invisible person behind the screen. The SLE got to the heart of the matter and asked some residents “why do avies lie?” We would like say thank you to all the participants.
Elita Wirsing immediately admitted that she had been lied to many times. “Well I think a lot of people tend to try to separate sl and rl, so they choose to avoid questions or lie about their rls. They can’t grasp the fact that behind the avies are real people with emotions, Not saying everyone does it but some do”, she said, When asked if after her experiences she could spot a liar, she replied “I think I can but you have people that still can slip by”. Elita added that she definitely believes in the 3 strike rule and concluded by saying “people need to realize there is no reason to lie. It just hurts everyone around you”.
“If I knew why they lied, I would hold the key to the meaning of sl life” states RaeAnj Yalin confirming that she had been frequently lied to. “I have had my heart broken a number of times because someone simply could not own up to the truth of their sl/rl situation. My worst case was when I was partnered to a guy I thought the absolute world of but I kept feeling there was something not quite right. We were in the same group, which was how we met. He would tell me something one day, then a while later I would hear the same thing almost word by word from another avie in the group. In hindsight I think there was more than me and his ex-girlfriend. I didn't fit the bill and I guess neither did some of the others...he ended up marrying in rl his ex gf. If he had owned up to that I would have dealt with it, but he just disappeared off the radar without a word, and I heard by accident from someone else”.
When asked why do avies lie, Mr. G (fake name as requested) replied “I think because many people make up stories and invent details to be someone completely different than who they are in real life. Or they want to remain completely anonymous in SL and therefore hide real information, using lies as protective shield”. Mr. G also confirmed that he had been lied to by saying “Yes, for example about gender or age; shortly after meeting, those avies gave wrong information and only after a long while of knowing each other they revealed the truth. And those are just examples that I know for sure – there have certainly been more occasions”.
Santiboy Resident believes that avatars lie for many reasons. “The easiest is to not want to be impolite to others, so they say things like, oh, I must run to RL or SL crashed, but they say that because they don’t want to interact with other avies any longer for whatever reason :-). On a more serious: scale, I once was approached by an ALT who pretended to be somebody else - wanted to spy on me. I could detect from the way he used language. A third type of lie is: some avies promise something they cannot accomplish just to get what they want” says Santiboy.
“In very short words we all lie in here! This is a game and not life. I want to get away from my job and relax. And we are just playing so why be too tight about the truth. I lie and have been lied to all the time. People are posing, giving images of themselves that just can’t be true in their real life. But it’s ok. I do not mind in here”, resumes Mr. S (fake name as requested).
I think that most of you will agree that we have all lied and been lied to, to varying degrees in SL, and we would like to hear your opinions.