Second Life and Bullies & Stalkers & Creeps, oh my!

Francesca (moderate)

I’ll start this one by saying I didn’t mess with windlight today. These were taken with the default region settings on Francesca↑. The avatar is Shiverdoll by Eila Magnolia↑ and is part of the Meta_Body II project↑.

My rant today was inspired by a number of sources but it seems appropriate given that it is Pink Shirt Day↑ in Canada. The focus of the Day is school bullies, but I’m going to relate it to Second Life – because, well, that’s what I was thinking about this morning.

Francesca (moderate)

Dorothy and her cohorts ventured off into the unknown worried about rumoured threats from Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! – apparently nobody had mentioned flying monkeys.

Unfortunately there are a variety of lurking predators in our virtual world. It would be too much to expect that a new platform would go unnoticed by cowards who attempt to victimize those they perceive as weak or vulnerable.

Francesca (moderate)

I’ve watched a friend of mine deal with a stalker recently. This individual (with the usual variety of alts) has expanded his range of activities from griefing and general bullying to include defamatory lies sent to a number of us.

I think those of us on the receiving end are all smart enough to look at the source (a 2 day old alt with an empty profile?) and then at the target (somebody I’ve known for years) and dismiss the messages as garbage. But what if a recipient didn’t use their common sense? How fast would those lies spread and what kind of damage could they do? How annoying/exhausting/miserable must it be to have to deal with this?

Francesca (moderate)

We can link arms with those we know and march off across the grid chanting Bullies and Stalkers and Creeps, oh my! – they aren’t imaginary threats though. Sticking together helps, using just a modicum of judgment helps, reporting them to real world authorities might eventually do something, but finding real ways to fight back is tough.

One of the aspects of this that truly bothers me is the piling on that can take place. People see somebody harassing another person and join in. Maybe they feel that they’re aligning themselves with a strong leader or maybe they’re just the type of person who tortures flies. This little item↑ reminds us that creating is braver than destruction. By definition, cowards aren’t trying to prove their bravery.

I know we’re supposed to analyze their psychological issues, be understanding and blame whatever childhood misfortunes they’ve had. Personally, I’ll support squashing them like the bugs they are. :)

Francesca (moderate)
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  1. I’m sorry I haven’t had much time this week to bully, harass and stalk you. Too busy at Apachecon.

  2. And I’m sorry there’s no way to do a doubleplus like for posts.

  3. And now, Honour, you’ll see the cyberstalkers and cyberbullies start screaming “oooh, Honour McMillan is pro-violence, while we are against all kinds of violence” and looking for sympathy from their idiotic cohorts.

    Also, Honour, there’s obviously a lot wrong with cyberbullies – unlike RL bullies who are usually psychopaths and have an inherent fearlessness, cyberbullies and trolls only act this way in an environment where they feel they will never be punished in any way for their actions. They are complete and utter cowards, spineless maggots that even a RL bully would dismiss as “weaklings”. Both RL and online bullies get a rise out of harming others and watching others be harmed. And both categories are strengthened by an encouraging audience.

    I think this encouraging audience is even worse than the bullies and stalkers themselves. They accept, befriend, condone, encourage and praise the bullies. What sort of perverted, fucked up pleasure do they get out of it? So, I say that we need to not only squash and ostracise the bullies, but also their friends. We need to make an environment entirely hostile to both bullies and their enablers.

  4. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been the target of stalkers and bullies, and I’ve seen the antics of those who follow them around and, incessantly and invariably, lay the blame squarely at the victim. “You shouldn’t have mentioned your private life on a public forum”, say the very people who distort it and abuse it, “because then it’s fair game.” Like when I’m walking on a public road I’m fair game to be ridiculed, or worse.
    Of course, a victim can do a lot to stop this abuse, or to avoid it from happening at all, but the point is that it shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. The blame lies with those bullying, not with those less capable of defending themselves. And they can easily make it stop, simply by not doing it.

  5. I’d like to add this. I’ve noticed how almost everyone prefers to look away. Of course, especially in a game people want to have fun and not be confronted with these things. But very very few people, and among them none of the friends I had before the shit hit the fan, stood by me. Some have encouraged me in private, but nobody at all spoke out in public against the barrage of vicious lies. This is something which needs to change, especially in the light of the fact that the bullies always come with a small army of sycophants.

    • Hurling facts, arguments, truth, and retorts at fanatics like Pep Daniels or Prok is futile. Same with making Draxtor “My experience is great, so all the whiners are wrong and it’s all the fault of The Tea Party” Despres realize we’re all not fast-rig, mesh-puppet filming edgecases like him. Or making me actually explain a joke or treat a snarky comment as some kind of argument when I’d rather be… well, doing anything else.

      The fanatics just increase their noise and widen the scope of their futile fury, howling for the rest of the pack to attack.

      *shrug* I could be debating and nitpicking and scoring points on assclowns and jackholes all day, individually or in a pack… but I’d rather be be taking notes on jimjag’s presentation of mod_heartbeat for apache 2.4 because I’ll have to document this cool stuff some day, ja?

      It’s hard to just let this crap blow past, but you gotta. You make your case, take a stand if it’s an existential threat, but the rest just is noise, and you block and mute and report as you can. Any energy beyond that is a waste.


      • I agree that legitimizing them by arguing (feeding them in fact) is a waste of time and just gives them power.
        The mute/ignore button is a valuable tool. :)

        It isn’t always going to work – but, it’s certainly an essential first step, even if you’re a bystander.

      • I’d never mute you, Honey Bunches Of Oats. :)
        PS: Okay, I'd never mute you AGAIN.

      • damn right you won’t! By the way, did the rash ever clear up from the last time you tried?

      • I’ve learned, in part from Crap, that ignoring the trolls is usually the most effective way of dealing with them. They get bored and go away. Most trolls are cowardly, overly-sensitive, high-maintenance people that can only feel good about themselves by tearing down others. So I say “go on and live your life … mine doesn’t include you.”

      • not only does it make your life easier, saner, more pleasant – ignoring them is the best revenge. :)

  6. Problem is that in some environments mute/ignore does not properly work. I have the whole shitload on mute. It stops nobody. /me mutters something about people who can build 3D worlds and not websites.

  7. Anyway, you are missing the point. The point is not to reason with trolls. Ther point is to be there for your friends.

    • Oh I agree on being there for your friends, absolutely. I still won’t engage with the troll – I won’t give them that power. I can be there for my friend by making sure people know the ass is spreading lies. I won’t however have a conversation with the jerk – no matter how hard he tries to make me. I won’t talk to them on a public forum either.
      Being attacked in public is horrifying. Walking away without responding is very difficult – but it is what I would recommend. I’m not saying I’m an expert – I am saying I wouldn’t give the troll any satisfaction by letting them think I minded what they said.

  8. nalates

     /  February 27, 2013

    I like the squash idea…

    We see sick people in our society, bullies too and we watch them even reach out to harassment and attacks in RL. More and more we find the ‘authorities’ can’t do much of anything. Going to ‘trial’ and finding the facts is just too tedious and expensive. More and more we have to rely on ourselves.

    People need the means to protect their families and selves without depending on “authorities”.

    • Well, we all know who the habitual stalkers in SL are. Once again, I’ll say that, without their audience, they’re nothing. And their audience is even worse than the trolls and stalkers themselves, because they actively and knowingly encourage this sort of behaviour, as they find it amusing – much like the “schoolkids” in Amarynthos, Greece, that gleefully watched (and took footage of) a schoolmate of theirs get gang-raped, singling her out because she was (a) getting better grades than them and (b) was a migrant – and then went on (encouraged by their mothers) to place the blame on the victim of the gang rape.

      One may think that there’s a distance between enjoying seeing someone being bullied and enjoying seeing someone being raped – but in reality, this “distance” doesn’t exist at all.

  9. Inara Pey

     /  February 27, 2013

    Squash away – can I join in? :).

  10. Good article. I summarises what I had written on one of my websites.

  11. Leanna

     /  February 27, 2013

    Great post and great comments.
    The really difficult part is to shrug it off, walk away, not to respond to them (and some are real experts at baiting) and above all not to let them intimidate you.
    Having been on the receiving end of some insane troll stunts, I find it very hard to speak my mind when I know there are leeches/trolls who have nothing better to do than to read everything you post on the internet and twist it out of proportion.

    People who insist there is no such thing as cyberbullying dangerously underestimates the power of the internet.

  12. caramia Mizin

     /  February 27, 2013

    Honor, superbly written and even the comments are worth reading, thanks all for the opinions, I am lucky never to have been bullied in my 5 years of SL, however sadly I witnessed a close friend being harassed from SL into her RL, I hear some say ,why did she give out personal information rant, long story never the less still no excuse for bullying, lessons learnt.

    Thanks, cara

  13. I could write a book commenting on your blog post. Those who know me well enough will be shocked if I don’t. In world I’ve been very lucky in my nearly 4 yrs in SL. I had my first (hopefully last) bout of harrassment a few months ago and that stemmed from a sl forum idiot and pals landing on my head because I posted the slurl with a photo my.secondlife. So I don’t do that anymore.

    The “normal” occasional trolls can be easily ignored. And should be.

    I’ve had my own personal troll now for going on 3 years (and I’m not quite 4!). This was due to an old, SLForum thing. This person is obviously mentally ill. You can’t argue or fight with crazy; and you can’t always ignore it. Various people cling to and fall away from this crazy because there are different kinds of nuts and trolls.

    In the Forum and now feeds there are an assortment of nut trolls. I suspect that while their motives are individual, their tactics blur into a generic mass.

    Then there are the hunters in SL, the true sociopaths. I have run across one of those and it wasn’t pretty. I don’t know if my personal troll is a sociopath, I just know there is a major personality disorder.

    “Those are *their* problems, not yours” is something I’m often told. Well, someone can very well have a drinking problem and it may not affect me and so I can easily not engage them. When the drunk gets behind the wheel at the same time I do and ends up plowing into my car headon and at full speed, it is then very much my problem. Wearing a seatbelt makes sense, but isn’t necessarily going to save you when directly hit by a speeding MAC truck. The difference is in that analogy onlookers don’t say, “It is the car driver’s fault for ‘engaging’ the drunk” whereas in virtual that is a common comment. “God, the car driver is such a *victim*”…no one sneers that in RL either. “Same road, the drivers are both the same”…again, never hear that in RL. In SL and environs, I hear that all the time.

    This isn’t even close to a book. After being on the receiving end of it for more than 3/4 of my SL and seeing it heaped on others as well…not even close to being a book’s introduction.

    • I don’t classify trolls the same way I do stalkers (and similar creeps). My friend’s experience and yours are far more malicious than the infantile big mouths who can just be ignored. It’s the actively vicious we need to worry about and neutralize. These are the bugs I’d like to squash.

      • When the trolls, stalkers, creeps, etc. are some of the most prominent posters on the SL feeds (and in the forum), or those who routinely post *to* those people keep getting a pass from LL and ♥’d by others, and have been for years, I don’t see any squashing in the future. Bystanders who are sick of it just leave. Targets either leave and so get their worlds reduced by the trolls or they dig in and say “I won’t go because of you” and remain targets.
        Lose-lose if you’re the target.

      • Unfortunately, as we saw in the Michael Brutsch case (a notorious troll on Reddit that got his kicks by posting embarassing and sexual photos of women – mostly underage – that were taken without their consent and, of course, without any respect for their privacy), moderators and administrators often play favourites to the trolls and cyberbullies, especially if the latter had taught them a few technical things. What’s worse, bullying and harassment are passed off as “freedom of speech”, while outing and punishing a cyberbully is presented as a “violation of the First Amendment”, a “violation of free speech” and a “violation of privacy”.

        Many forums and other such spaces are examples of this. LL is no exception and its staff and management has a lot to answer for.

  14. pepys ponnier

     /  February 28, 2013

    While I have not personally experienced any harassment in the 5 years I’ve been in SL, I have seen other incidents. But far worse is content theft, it seems to be getting out of control, Nadine who owns 3D Trees recently had all of her trees copyboted and then the guy boxed them up and offered them free to everyone in the shop’s group. Absolutely disgusting. A lot of us filed AR’s but to no avail, he’s still in SL and evidently LL has taken no action against this jerk.

  15. Venus Petrov

     /  February 28, 2013

    I have been stalked in SL. Someone snapped a photo of my private home, posted it on the feeds to provoke me and then refused to remove it. It happens.

  16. I read a post comment here that bothered me and I thought about whether to respond or not, and if so, what to say. The post has been removed, so I will speak carefully around it. It was about the “see no evil/hear no evil” approach so many take to be “fair”. Statements were made that emphasized the “well you are both the same (targets and bullies). In my original comment post I made the analogy to being hit by a drunk driver…”it is both your faults.” Um, no.

    There are differing levels. A short “I hate you” and “Well, I hate you too!” type of exchange is NOT what most of us are talking about.

    My personal troll has stalked me for years, finding every post I made (on forum and often on feed, where it is slightly more difficult). Try posting under those conditions, for years. I don’t do that in return. Not the same. Then there is that she took it to multiple forums in the Internet, places I didn’t even know existed. It went to personal blogs. Not mine, hers and other people’s. Not the same. She has repeatedly mocked my being for someone who has experienced rape. I can’t even comprehend doing that. She, seeing that I posted a slurl of a sim where I was taking pictures, tp’d and landed on my head, stood on me for minutes, called her troll buddies to join in…and this last at least 10 minutes. It goes on and on.

    It has affected my RL. It sure as hell has affected my SL. I’ve killed off avatars to get rid of it. I’ve left both forums and feeds. One time I had been absent from the forum for months, returned, only to find a nasty THREAD about me. So much for ignore them, they’ll go away.

    That’s just a _handful_ of examples. And what happens? When the target speaks up, says “foul” or corrects a slanderous statement or whatever, then the good “hear no evil” people cry “SEE! You’re the same!” Once again, lose-lose for the targets.

    It takes two sides, a target and a bully. Each bullying case is different. In some cases the “both the same” is probably correct. What I see though is not that and not just with me. Having 100 bully posts/comments to 1 target outburst is NOT the same thing. By willfully being blind to the difference IS part of the problem.

    So to see, “Gee, you’re all the same and I just don’t get it” posted yet again is annoying and wrong and in so stating that, the person exemplifies that attitude that allows the trolls to continue. Complacency turns into complicity and in turn fuels the trolls to continue. It is that audience they want.

    • There is a group of people who have been having an ongoing dispute and tried bringing it here. I won’t give them space for that, they have lots of locations they’re already playing that game. :)

      Having said that, the people who deny that bullying and harassment occur are either deluded or practitioners. Just my opinion of course.

      • :) That’s why I left things generic. On the other hand, I have NO idea why there were so many grammatical errors in my mini rants. They do show why I don’t/can’t tweet though. :) Thank you for sharing your blog comment space for a discussion.

      • Honour, Seicher very poignantly brought us to the application of the “horseshoe theory”, which in our case portrays the bully and his target as being made of the same material – the people who apply the horseshoe theory to cyberbullying basically imply or say that the target of cyberbullying was asking for it (in fact, some of these people have even implied on the feeds that rape victims were asking for it).

        This mentality must be killed off for good.

        Also, cyberbullying takes more than a bully and a target – more often than not, it takes an accepting and encouraging audience for the cyberbully: his enablers. These utterly sick individuals that find pleasure in seeing people get attacked, bullied, harassed and/or harmed in any way possible. Whereas the cyberbully is a spineless maggot that would never dare act this way in RL for fear of getting arrested (at best), the real psychopaths in this case are his friends and enablers. His audience. The ones who “like” his bullying and libelous posts and his crusades against whomever he decides to pick on. If it wasn’t for the encouragement and praise he gets from these psychopathic sadists, the cyberbully wouldn’t dare exist in any online community; or perhaps he’d resort to cesspools like Reddit and 4chan, the soft underbelly of the internet.

        That’s why I’m saying that ostracising and calling out the enablers of the cyberbullies needs to be of a far higher priority than squashing the cyberbullies themselves. If it wasn’t for the enablers of the bullies and cyberbullies, Amanda Todd wouldn’t have killed herself. If it wasn’t for the army of psychopaths on Reddit, Michael “violentacrez” Brutsch wouldn’t have been invading the privacy of underage persons.

        And if some of these enablers are “mainstream”, “popular” SLusers (“internet celebrities”), then they need to be removed from their pedestal and marginalised forever, for they don’t deserve any praise at all, but only contempt.

  17. BTW, I’ve long since learned in these things that “one” must clarify everything and make disclaimers. It would be awkward (imo) for Honour to say this instead of me: As far as I know, Honour doesn’t know me from Adam. I know more about her because I’ve read her blog. I’ve only recently started commenting. In other words, she ain’t got no pony in any show I may be a part of.

  18. Its time to add internet trolls to the list.

  19. Pep

     /  May 27, 2014

    Cyber-bullying is an oxymoron. You can’t bully anyone online without their consent. That consent might be ignorantly given – and stupidity is its own punishment – or a consequence of the voluntary masochism that is associated with a desire for attention whoredom. If you stick your head above the parapet you are agreeing to become a target for the WHOLE internet, and not everybody on the internet has the same values as you do, trust me. The internet is a public place; you wouldn’t walk around in public with a sign on saying “I think *complete to your satisfaction* ” because you know that someone is going to come up to you and disagree. So why do you do it on the ‘net, if you aren’t offering yourself up as a participant in a discussion? Because you’re not very good at interaction, and someone else is does not mean that they have to go easy on you. I am here to tell you, the Bible lied; the meek ain’t never ever going to inherit the earth!

    Pep (Fanatic, Crap? Really?)

    • Crow n

       /  June 11, 2015

      That makes absolutely no sense. You don’t need to give your consent in the internet to have hackers attack you. Or a virus. Cyber bullying doesn’t need it either.

      Amanda Todd didn’t simply participate in a discussion she was slammed in. She was bullied thanks to enablers who sound a little like you. Unless you agree it’s fair for me to bully you right now because you gave an “I think” on the Internet.

      You need to learn the difference between bullying and debate.

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