Monday, October 3, 2011

THOSE People

No matter what society we are talking about, people seem to get sorted, or sort themselves, into different social classes.  Of course, every individual is unique and it’s important not to lose sight of that.  Still, there are groups of people within a society that have enough viewpoints and beliefs in common to distinguish them as a group.

Guess what?  It’s not so very different in the virtual world of Second Life.  Last night, my partner and I were standing in a large and busy store, people-watching.  We both noticed that the two of us looked, and acted, quite differently from the other shoppers.  The store itself was not one which we usually went to – in fact, I had found it more or less by accident.  Earlier that day, I had noticed a woman wearing an attractive hairstyle, had Inspected it, and backtracked the store through the profile of the hair’s creator.

The store was quite nice and had a large selection of clothing as well as hair.  However, the styles seemed to lean heavily toward the slutty, grungy teen look and most of the pictured models sported pouty Angelina Jolie lips, Neko ears, and tails.  We (especially my partner) like sexy, even provocative styles, but generally in what I’d call a more “sophisticated” mode.  (To be fair, those who favored the younger fashions we were seeing would probably call our preferences “old fashioned”.)

The other shoppers seemed a lot more in keeping with the store’s fashions.  They were young, in SL terms – most of them had been in Second Life around ten to fourteen months.  They used chatspam gestures a lot.  Some of them used voice, and their voices sounded youthful…so we concluded that they were probably young in Real Life terms, too.  Seeing them, I started thinking about the social classes in SL.  Surely you have noticed some of these?

The Upper Crust.  This segment of SL includes the land barons, those who own multiple regions and, in many cases, make some or all of their Real Life living from renting out land to other residents.  It also includes the more successful store owners, those with products purchased by thousands of residents.  Names like Stiletto Moody, Stroker Serpentine, and Shylah Honey.  This group loves SL, but also spends most of their time tending to business, because business has become the overriding factor for them…an inevitable consequence of success.

The Intelligentsia.  While not as well off in economic terms, this group tends to be very well-educated, and may be educators themselves.  They are erudite, long-winded, and philosophical.  They stand apart from the hurly-burly of the mob.  While they consider Second Life a fascinating social experiment, they would never buy a skimpy dress or a pair of 6 inch stilettos to adorn their avatar, and would instantly mute anyone so crass as to suggest a sexual relationship.  A prominent offshoot of this group is…

The Artists.  They’re creative, but not motivated by money like the Upper Crust.  They may create some of the most beautiful and interesting things and places in SL, but seldom make a profit while doing so.

The Monomaniacs.  This group is very diverse.  Each member has some all-consuming interest, passion, or sexual fetish.  Some might focus on designing the fastest sailboat in Second Life.  Others want only to wear bizarre latex costumes and painful restraints, hopefully at the command of some strict dominant.  Whatever their fascination, it makes them very one-dimensional, and for them Second Life is very narrow and focused.  An ideal companion if you share their interest, boring if you don’t.

The Roleplayers.  Vampire clans, dark and dangerous cities of the future, the Old West, the Lands of Faerie, the Star Trek and Star Wars universes, the world of Gor, Medieval and Steampunk…this diverse group’s members are almost always on stage and in character.

The Swingers.  For this group, SL is one endless party, and a search for their next cybersex experience.  Pleasure is their goal, and other people only exist as a means to that end.  Male Swingers can be readily identified because they address any female as “babe”.

The Lonely Hearts.  This group tends to intermingle with the Swingers, but they are looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, someone to fall in love with, eventually to meet and marry in Real Life.  Because there are so many more Swingers, they are very often doomed to heartbreak. 

The Kids.  These people want to re-live their childhood.  Maybe their real childhood was unhappy, or maybe they remember it as the best time of their lives.  In either case, they become a child again in SL.  The Kids are really a subset of a much larger group, those who for whatever reason want a “do over” for their lives.  Aging Baby Boomers, people in boring or unhappy marriages, the unemployed or those with dead end careers…so many of us want a life that’s better than the one we were issued.

Gamers and Griefers.  Mostly teens and young adults who haven’t matured much past 16 emotionally.  Bright and quick, but to them SL and other residents are playthings.  Many of them come to SL briefly, and move on when they find out that SL isn’t a “game”.  If they stay, they love annoying others with practical jokes.  If they have a darker bent, they may become…

Criminals.  This group is out to “beat” Second Life by getting money in any way they can.  Content theft, rigged gambling, pyramid schemes, confidence games, land scams, and outright theft are their tools.  The more successful ones can make off with hundreds of thousands of dollars.  But if they are caught, they shrug and say, “Hey, it’s only play money after all”.

The Psychos.  This lunatic fringe, if you’ll pardon the expression, is intermingled with the Criminals, Swingers, and Lonely Hearts.  They are extremely personable and plausible, at least at first meeting, but their goal is to mess with the minds and emotions of others.  They leave chaos and heartbreak in their wake.  In my opinion, they’re worse than the criminals who are only out to make a quick buck, because the damage they cause is harder to detect and evaluate, and they are much harder to catch and stop.

Another way to sort people is by their Second Life age…we all progress through the stages of Newbie, Young Resident, Experienced Resident, and Jaded Old Hand.  The trick is to wind up at the latter category still warm, friendly and mellow…and not sour and embittered.


  1. Well u forgot the King of all this shit! Oh hell I guess I'm a psycho! Hehehe

  2. No, you're in a class by yourself, Jumpy! :)

  3. If there is one thing you learn in SL it is tolerance. There are so many "extreme" lifestyles being played out here. Judging someone's fantasy life by the same (misplaced?) standards you would in RL only leads to frustration.


  4. If that is a general observation, I agree! If you meant to imply that I myself am intolerant, I disagree. I rub elbows amicably with just about everyone except Criminals and Psychos. it's a weird and wonderful world full of weird and wonderful people!