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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Avie Poll: Discrimination, Prejudice and Racism in SL: Reality or Myth? – Glossom Resident Reporting…

Did anyone imagine twenty years ago that the existence of a virtual world would be possible? 
The world has changed so much in the past decades. Science has made great strides, laws on Equality and Human Rights were created, technology has raised sharply making the world smaller and bringing people closer. Yet, much ink is still expended on Discrimination, Prejudice and Racism, three words that bring people apart. Is this multicultural virtual world called Second Life a Utopia regarding this subject?

Discrimination, prejudice and racism are concepts that merge for their cause-effect relationship. All three are grounded on stereotypes that generate social malaise. While Prejudice stems from preconceived negative judgments on people and their beliefs and behaviors, Discrimination is an unfair or unequal treatment given to a person based on prejudice related to religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, physical or mental disability, nationality, among others. Racism, on the other hand, expresses a set of theories and beliefs that establish racial and ethnic hierarchies, superior and inferior races, resulting in Intolerance, hostile feelings and attitudes.

Being in a virtual environment where our real identity is preserved, makes us feel safe and free from prejudice, discrimination and racism. But is that really so? Our way of being and thinking, our moral and ethical values ​​are marked on every word we utter, in every action we do, so although we are physically protected, we cannot hide our true self.
The SLE went down to the heart of the matter to search for evidence and ask some residents to voice their opinion on this question: Is there prejudices and discrimination in SL? Is racism an issue? We would like to thank each and everyone for participating.

Resident A: Yes I think so. Whether you are in RL or in SL it’s always there unfortunately. It’s really sad it’s not the platform’s fault it’s just some people’s personalities you can’t get away from. But it’s cool I meet nicer people then mean ones.

Resident B: There is some species on species racism.

Resident C: Ok, I don’t think so as far skin color or cultural racism, the businesses on sl do more discriminating against each other than the people do. I mean getting down and dirty with other businesses, banning people associated with competitors etc.; immaturity if you ask me. That’s really all I’ve ever seen in my time on SL. I’ve seen sims where you had to be from certain countries to be on it though, Other than that I haven’t seen anyone hazed etc.

Nyx (animaanimus resident): I noticed that depending on what sim I go, there're usually people wondering what I might actually be... A boy, a girl, a creature, in between? And then, there's homophobia which drove me insane when I was younger but now I try to just ignore that kind of hate. Otherwise, there's some discrimination against people who RP with the Bloodlines system, since there're morons who attack whatever comes first and that really makes me sad cause I'm a nice and well educated young wolf.

Miss Cali (calicaggless resident): Most definitely. It’s all around, and I've actually been subjected to it. Well, I am a white girl. I have been told countless time by African Americans as well as Mexican Americans on this game that I am a worthless person due to my skin color and what I did to my country.

ForbiddenWander (chocolate cheng): Yes, I both experienced and witnessed it, I’m sure a lot have. Sometimes some people overreact. You know, some people say SL is SL and RL is RL. I don’t think that applies. Discrimination happens right here at the gate: some males tp here knowing it’s a female sim then sometimes get mean because it’s a lesbian resort.

Ƙαтhlєєη کpɨтfɨrє (kedvenc.ivanovic): Yes I have an interesting take on all that... I am bisexual after all and I see both sides of the coin I guess. I see that the lesbian scene is much more accepted than any men in gay relationships, but recently I’ve seen some men together and accepted in major SL groups. But of course there still are the haters.  But you have that in every aspect of society.  You just can’t please everyone being who you really are. I sometimes hear, “hey don’t do that, they don’t like that”, or “hey they like this”.  I say to hell with that.  Be who you are!!  I guess that’s the true theme of Rock N Roll as well isn’t it?

Lobito Skute: Racism is hardly an issue, nobody knows what color is the other. I haven't experienced any issue with discrimination or racism in SL.

VanessaChevalier Resident: Racism does not exist, just the fear of the other that created this problem, and for my part I have no problem with that. I live my life as well shemale.

Mr. L; I can tell you an experience that somehow covers both parts: some years ago I was running a full sim dance club, with a very strict policy only to use English in local chat. So I had a board at the entrance telling about my rules about the language, and also not to use those annoying translators that fill the local chat all the time. Whoever used a thing like that or didn’t speak English got ejected and banned right away. I didn’t care about warning them, my sim, my rules. One day after I kicked two people off my land, the remaining guests got all mad at me, called me a racist and what not. Even the group chat got flooded with accusations. I mean isn’t that discriminating to attack me for enforcing my own house rules? I would do it again.

Do share your experiences with us. And do not forget to report to Linden Lab if your rights are being violated.

Happy readings,
Glossom Resident


  1. Racism is prohibited in Second Life by the Intolerance portion of the Community Standards (the "Big Six"). Intolerance applies not only to the race, sex, age, etc. of the person behind the keyboard, but to the species, sexual orientation, nationality, etc. of the avatar. So an SL avatar is not allowed to say "All [Goreans, vampires, Klingons] are idiots," because that's intolerance. Prejudice is hard to determine, because by definition it happens inside the other person's brain, and you won't know he's prejudiced unless he talks about it. The great thing about prejudice in SL is when you see it destroyed, as in "I always thought people your age were all boring, but you're actually pretty cool." Discrimination in SL is everywhere, as evidenced by two examples here - a women-only sim and an English-only sim. If you own the sim, then you get to decide who is allowed to be there. For example, a sim called Cripple Creek was an Old West roleplaying location, and they didn't allow furry avatars. Their reasoning was that they were simulating an Old West town, and there were no furries or robots or Klingons in the Old West, so those types of avatars were prohibited. There were no intolerant statements made about non-humans, and they did allow full animals, as evidenced by the talking crow who perched on a nearby building.

    There is racism and intolerance in Second Life, almost all of it from griefers and other people trying to shock residents. It's hard to tell whether they actually dislike others due to intolerance, or whether they're just following the herd and exercising the most recent "meme." Discrimination is here to stay, since some groups like to isolate themselves inside their own manufactured boundaries. The prejudice I've seen is sometimes surprising, especially when someone is prejudiced against himself! A friend once told me that he was going to turn on voice chat, and warned me that he would probably "sound kind of ghetto." Sure enough, when he started talking he sounded like a black guy. I wonder what kind of treatment he'd had in the past, to anticipate that everyone who heard his voice for the first time would say "I didn't know you were black!!" All I said was "You sound fine," because skin color makes no difference to me. I will admit to one prejudice, though. Before I came to Second Life, I had never met anyone from The Netherlands who wasn't supercool, and SL has confirmed that pre-judgment many times!


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