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Monday, June 15, 2020

SL Conspiracy Theories- Stacey Cardalines Reporting...


SL is a world devoted to unusual and often fantastic things. I have a friend who is a 6 foot tall human cat, for instance. I can teleport to anywhere in the world, carrying everything I own, effortlessly. You h
ave to work hard to astound someone on SL. Fortunately, there are people out there, working hard.

A grey area between the crazy real world and the not-reality-based crazier world of SL encompasses may odd practices and beliefs. One realm of this area involve Conspiracy Theories. These are explanations for situations that involve a sinister collaboration working in secret. They range from harmless things like "New Coke was a marketing ploy to increase demand for original Coke" to the more apocalyptic "Space lizards are embedded in our government." 

A common denominator among them is that the situations the theory is supposed to explain can be explained by more mundane events. Perhaps it was Hillary Clinton who murdered Seth Rich, but it was more likely just a common street murder by Annie Thug.

SL reflects reality, to a point. From colleges to armies, you can find many RL entities animated by the Lindens. If someone has an interest, someone most likely has a sim for it. It is a sound business practice to identify things from real life that can make you money on SL, and it only stands to reason that somebody in some dark corner of SL is peddling conspiracy theories.

As a seasoned SL journalist, I always have my ear to the ground. I'm an excellent snoop... if I'm looking for it, I usually find it. If I don't hear it directly, I know somebody trustworthy who heard it directly. My people and I put in work, and we'll share the juicier theories we've heard.

Keep in mind, the thing to remember about conspiracy theories is that they are almost always bat-ship crazy. I wouldn't waste a lot of energy worrying about most of these things. For all you know, I have a deadline in 12 hours and I'm just making things up.

However, the world is more fun if you are fighting a sinister cabal. A fantasy world somewhere between Snoopy on his doghouse pretending to fight the Red Baron and Walter Mitty smoking on a street corner while- in his mind- staring down a firing squad is preferable to a life slingin' eggs or fixing some rich guy's lawnmower. As fine a job as it is, no kid ever dreams of being an Accountant.

That applies to SL as well. Some people want to be a vampire, some people want to prove that Woody Allen stole the Lindbergh baby. If it's out there, it's my job to bring it to you. You can make up your own mind, once I've messed around with it some.


Second Life Will Someday Become A Nation

May as well lead off with the good stuff. This one, like many conspiracy theories, has some basis in reality. It is also a variation of the Cyrus speech from The Warriors

Second Life is estimated, by Linden Labs, to have between 800,000 and 900,000 accounts. This is down from a million in 2013. That one million number is a nice one to put up against actual real nations. It gives SL more "people" than Cyprus, Cape Verde, Suriname, Samoa, Luxembourg, Guyana, Montenegro, the Bahamas, Iceland, Bhutan and 50 other nations, territories and dependencies. We would be the 157th biggest nation in the world. "Can you count, suckers? Cannnnnnnnnnn you dig it?"

If SL were organized and dare I say weaponized, we would have UN-worthy numbers. We'd have agents in almost every country in the world. We could vote in election-tipping blocs. We could move information and finances along strange, hard to track channels... a theme we'll investigate further in a different theory once you scroll down a bit.

This leads to a series of difficult questions, ranging from "Does an avatar have rights?" to "If SL gets UN membership, do we send an actual real person to meetings or just set up a computer screen and have the avatar bellow threats at Iran or Canada or whoever?"



The Ghost Avatar

With the paranormal, remember that it is no stranger to claim a house is haunted than it is to claim a sim is haunted. You have equal proof and equal reason for doubt in each case. 

The ghost avatar story involves variations of The Ring, FearDotCom and even The Crow. A woman dies, either murdered by a man she met on SL, or by suicide following a failed SL relationship. Her body died, but her spirit lives on in her avatar. Unfortunately for us, it is an evil, sadistic and vengeful spirit.

She lurks in dark corners of SL, looking for those who would love a girl and then leave her. She is a player hater. She is not gender specific, as will she hunt women as happily as she hunts men. She is impossibly beautiful, quite forward and has a gentle, caring nature... until you bail out on her, at which point she climbs through the computer screen into real life to rip out your lungs and beat you with them.

She is the third rail of cybersex... touch it and die.



Celebrity Avatars

Geena Davis is into archery. Tim Duncan plays Dungeons and Dragons. Taylor Swift collects snow globes. Mike Tyson raised pigeons. Is it really beyond belief that some or perhaps several celebrities play SL?

It is an odd thought. Everyone wants to be famous (for the right reasons, of course.... few people want to be famous for "caught on video accidentally castrating themselves"), with the possible exception of people who are already famous. Perhaps they seek new, more anonymous interaction with people who don't also have agents and Tonight Show appearances scheduled.

I bet that everywhere Steven King goes, someone stops him and asks him about his books. King is a country fellow, raised in rural Maine, and most likely yearns for regular conversations about baseball and rock music. Instead, it's all "In 'Home Delivery,' is Maddie really the Virgin Mary?"

If King becomes Steven2502 Resident on SL, that problem goes away.

Of course, the hard part with this theory is identifying the celebrity. I hunted around some, and rumors pop up.

The big name is Drew Carey. He referenced a SL designer on Twitter once, and is said to be a fan of SL Steampunk stuff. Michael Stackpole, who is an author in some field, is said to be a player. Suzanne Vega, who I think wrote the song "Luka," is also said to be an avatar somewhere. The guy who wrote the Ready Player One movie was a player, although he said in a 2012 interview that he hasn't logged on "in many moons."

One guy claims that a member of Duran Duran is a player, but who knows?

The guy on The Office with the glasses (the character he plays, not the actor) is referenced to be playing SL in at least one episode. I'm not sure if that carries over into RL.

I also saw references to Mia Farrow, the late Kurt Vonnegurt, Will Smith, the late David Bowie, the later Steve Jobs, the Pet Shop Boys, Tim Burton, Daft Punk, Sharon Stone (I may have fought her), LeAnn Rimes and Ricky Gervais.



Five Feet Of Fury

This is my favorite one, as it involves me. 

I'm as short in RL as I am on SL, five feet nothing. You get used to it. I was an athlete in high school and college, and in high school- 1992, to be exact- someone hung "five feet of fury" on me because of my bloodthirsty soccer-playing style. It went to college with me, was good for a laugh or two, then was used exclusively by my husband until I started playing SL.

On SL, I took up professional wrestling as a hobby in about 2010. Small girls are useful there, as I am generally scheduled against teens and Asians. All wrestlers need a nickname, and I already had "five feet of fury" hanging off of me. I also get called "Smurf" a lot, but that is a different story.

In 2013, the WWE introduced Alexa Bliss, a vertically challenged wrestler. She, like all wrestlers, picked up nicknames. "The Goddess," "Little Miss Bliss" and- I should sue- "Five Feet Of Fury."

I'm pretty sure that Bliss isn't an avatar, and thus didn't stumble across and steal my nickname. I have read that WWE writers decide the wrestler's names, acts, tendencies, etc... There is a famous story about a wrestler from India who the WWE decided would make a good Rampaging Muslim Terrorist character. The Indian asked to not be cast that way. "I am from India, we have fought three wars against Muslim Pakistan, my grandfather died at a Muslim's hand, and I will not be able to return home if I play a Muslim villain on television." WWE CEO Vince McMahon thought it over and huffed, "Put the goddamned towel on your head and shut up."

While blonde, beautiful and very busy Alexa Bliss most likely doesn't play a short wrestler on SL after playing one in real life, it is not beyond comprehension that a WWE writer has an avatar lurking around somewhere. Maybe he plays for fun, maybe he is doing research on wrestling sims, but he would be the easiest direct link between my 1992-2020 nickname and the one Bliss began using in 2016 or so.

So, Bliss gets a million a year with the nickname, while I write for the SL Enquirer and get paid in Lindens. Life's fair.


FBI and CIA Surveillance of SL

Just because they say you are paranoid, it doesn't mean that people aren't out to get you. Likewise, not all conspiracy theories are nonsense. This is one of them.

During the Arab Spring protests, Lanai sent me off to cover a "riot" in a Muslim-based sim. The riot wasn't that menacing. People were friendly, and I ended up playing Yahtzee with them. No one was threatening to hijack a Boeing or eviscerate Donald Trump or anything. I also covered an Austerity Dogs riot in London where they did burn a building.

However, it came to light that the FBI and the CIA had embedded avatars into online multiplayer games such as SL, World Of Warcraft and XBox Live. Remember that Edward Snowden guy? All those stolen files he released? One of them concerned surveillance of SL by organized Law. While I was playing Parcheesi with Khalid during the Arab Spring SL protest, there was probably some CIA spook nearby, taking notes. 

In theory, terrorists or anarchists could use SL to transfer money, recruit new adherents, plan attacks and/or just be a menacing subculture. The CIA has to worry about stuff like that. So, they embedded agents into the games, and were snooping on whatever Arab protesters were up to.

This most likely doesn't touch you or (maybe) I, but the potential is there. Linden Labs denied letting the government have access to all of their information, which, as you know, means that they let the government have access to all of their information. The government could have a file on me, or perhaps You.

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