Thoughtless Assumptions in Second Life

Blasphemy (moderate)

I realized, as I started to write this post, that I probably should have chosen a different sim to illustrate today’s ramblings. I saw it on Avatars in Motion↑ and, since I haven’t done a dark landscape in a long time, it seemed like a good idea.

I don’t want you to think I’m associating the topic with “evil” though. Thoughtless assumptions, yes, but not evil. So please keep that in mind. :)

Blasphemy (moderate)

I saw a comment last week complaining about airlines and seat assignments that said they always put “people with children and limps” in front of this person. This type of inconsiderate action delays the “normal” business traveler.

This took me back to the days when I was doing a lot of business travel and, since I walked with a cane, was one of those “limps”. I used to get a lot of flack and felt the resentment from the totally able-bodied for, apparently, interfering with their day just by being less than an olympic sprinter. (I’ll note here that I have always hated the word “disabled”. If you disable machinery it can’t function, people aren’t that analog.)

Blasphemy (moderate)

I don’t think this is a “bad” person making that comment. I do think that it’s something they wouldn’t say out loud if they were standing in front of somebody who obviously had a physical disability.

It is a great example, though, of an assumption people make about individuals they don’t know and can’t see. We assume everybody is perfect unless we learn differently. A voice on the phone, or on a social network, or an avatar inworld, all are assumed to be problem-free and able-bodied. The question I’ve always asked myself is “why?”.

Blasphemy (moderate)

I once looked up the numbers in an effort to convince some conference organizers that assuming they could invite me as a speaker and not check that I could actually enter the building was less than smart.  The most recent figure I can find for the US↑ says that the percentage of  adults “with at least one basic actions difficulty or complex activity limitation” is  32.8% (which includes hearing and vision, in addition to mobility).

The numbers inworld are probably at least that high. I don’t think everybody should have to experience a physical injury or condition to begin to change their assumptions about the people around them. I am quite sure that most of us are smart enough to stop assuming “the best” without going to that much trouble and it would result in less unintentional offense. :)

Blasphemy (moderate)
Leave a comment


  1. Was that one of my AudioBoos? Because I was bitching up a storm about my flights to Portlandia and back. (I sure wrote a bunch of crazy-ass 100WS as the approach to Denver knocked us around something fierce.)

    If someone needs extra assistance getting to a seat, I don’t mind, but as long as they’re assigned a seat that doesn’t interfere with rescue efforts should they be necessary. Or, if their handicap is “Morbidly obese,” that they do not get assigned a seat that caused them to spill over and incapacitate/crush a passenger next to them. (Ah, getting smothered against a window by gigantic piles of stench on the 102 bus… how I don’t miss you at all!)

    Heck, I could have upgraded to one of the emergency exit seats for a window, but declined because the lifting and grip strength in my left arm is still less than what it should be.(The tricep took a while to anchor properly.)

    As for kids, well, as long as they don’t get annoying to other passengers, let ’em fly as long as they’re seated directly next to a parent so they can be smacked or throttled. (I was seated in between a mother and her child, with the father the row behind us… she said she was agoraphobic and needed the asile, the kid liked windows, and the father apparently liked to eat-shoot-leave or something. When the kid got petulant about non-existent rootbeer and his seat tray, the temptation to end their gene-line was overwhelming.)


    When I was 8 or so, my grandmother broke her ankle. But she insisted we take her to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and push her around in the wheelchair.

    People wouldn’t get out of the way, and they’d fill up the elevators without any regard to the little old lady in the wheelchair. The museum staff had to get involved to remind people why elevators were there in the first place.

    She did this to let us know that:

    – Being injured sucks.
    – Most people suck.
    – Learn the look of shame and defiance in people’s eyes and faces.

    When I busted my arm, I learned how quickly people on the bus become total pus-heads. Quite a few punk kids in the handicapped seats needed to be told “I bet this brace can take out those gold teeth pretty quick.”


    However, my biggest grievance is the fact that there is a METROLift system in place here for offering public transportation to the handicapped at the same fare-rate as the standard bus routes. They’re available by phone and can be reserved/scheduled, and they have the advantage of offering point-to-point transportation, which is better than having to get to and from a stop.

    Still, people would insist on the standard routes, and they’d take up an extra 3-5 minutes to load or unload, and reconfiguring the seats eats up 3-5 seats for others. (On an overcrowded 25-Richmond or 9-Gulfton run, this can be Sardine City.)

    If I were in that position, and I knew where I was going, I’d arrange to use the special transport to get improved service as well as not inconvenience my fellow citizens.

    But, hey, that’s just me, right?


    • It wasn’t you :) My biggest problem flying – apart from all the grumbling when people saw my cane (they didn’t have to be actually inconvenienced they just assumed they would be) was getting on and off the suckers.
      For regional flights, where passengers boarded from the tarmac, I used to be taken to freight moving devices to get me in and out of the terminal.
      Boy did that make me feel special.

  2. In my (youthful) old age, I’m trying to be less impatient. It’s a work in progress. And there are an increasing number of days when I’m the one not moving quickly, so points well-taken about the disabl…handica…er, those with limitations.

    I will say that some families view airplanes as an extension of their play rooms, though. They’ll dine on smelly, messy food, play with their electronic doo-dads with the sound on, get sloppily drunk, and, yes, let their children run amok. My favorite toxic parent was a guy who didn’t want to sit with his daughter, so he sat behind her and instructed the kid to claim the entire row. On a Southwest flight, where the point estimate is that the flight is at capacity.

    Great photos, as always.

    • Thank you :) I’m not a parent so I always seem to have less patience with children in those situations. I don’t envy those traveling with their kids though – dealing with the young ones and the annoyed people around them can’t be easy.

  3. Not gonna mention the terrible inconvenience people think I cause them by asking for a picture menu at McDonalds or waiting for my sign language interpreter or taking time to write things on my iPad for others to read. Nope. But I will mention that I believe Second Life to be a haven for those with special needs. Compared to Real Life, the percentage would be larger as the environment is more an equalizer. During those few weeks I was in a wheelchair iRL, I was running and jumping and flying iSL. When others sing along to the radio iRL and I can’t even hum along, I can go to SL and sing like a bird (or at least type out the emote for it). Second Life is really a Second Chance for many.

    • I agree with you – but, without actual stats I didn’t want to say that my feeling is the number is higher in SL. *hugs*

  4. slutrix

     /  March 8, 2013

    I’ve known people with disabilities and with serious illnesses in SL; even from my earliest days, I’ve learned that a great many of the avatars we see in SL are operated by such people. And yes, SL is a Second Chance for many people, as Uccello rightly pointed out. Unfortunately, disregard for the needs of these people is deeply rooted in far too many able-bodied people who forget that they themselves (and/or their relatives and friends) could end up this way at any moment. Great post… And great photos.

  5. During my early days in SL, I went to a tutorial and spoke with the person teaching who told me a story of how powerful SL can be for some individuals. He explained that he had made friends with a female avi and took her dancing one night. They were on voice and during the dance he sensed something was wrong and heard a quiver in her voice. Upon asking if she was ok, she reluctantly explained that she had spent her entire life in a wheelchair and had never, ever danced before…they both began to cry and he resolved to send that message out to everyone he could. I think that’s a beautiful story and a reminder that we really never know how much of an effect we can have on the RL person behind the avi.

    Agreed…great post.

  6. Xi

     /  March 9, 2013

    Good comment. I live with crohnes disease. Just because I look ok on the outside, do not asume I am not in pain on the inside. I think there are more people with “issues” than most realize.

    It is just easy to assume that the person you are “talking” to is like you. Like many things we have never seen with our own eyes, humans tend to project them in our own image.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: