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What is Second Life?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual community created entirely by its membership. Members assume an identity and take up residence in the environment, creating a customized avatar or personage to represent themselves. The avatar moves about in the virtual world using mouse control and intuitive keyboard buttons.

The virtual world also includes sound; wind in the swaying trees, babbling brooks, audible conversation, and built-in chat and instant messaging. Residents buy property, start businesses, game with other residents, create objects, join clubs, attend classes, or just hang out.

In the fall 2006, over 3,000 residents were reportedly make an excess of $20,000 US Dollars (USD) per year running businesses in Second Life. Most of them sell objects they’ve created that other residents want. One resident landed a Business Week cover story for earning a three-figure income — that’s real-world dollars — selling virtual real estate.

Property purchased in Second Life is owned by the buyer using a scheme referred to as Internet Protocol (IP) copyright. Some owners reward members for staying at their property with Linden dollars, the community's currency. Linden dollars can also be purchased with real dollars using a credit card. Part of the exchange rate goes to Linden Inc., with the site purportedly generating over $64 million USD a year.

Real world corporations also took an interest in the virtual world. In September 2006, Popular Science reported that Wells Fargo Bank bought an island on Second Life, where could one day offer real world banking. Several companies considered offering corporate training classes in the virtual world — a business model that could save money in travel and lodging fees. Future possibilities include virtual universities that replicate their real-life counterparts with classrooms and professors teaching interactive classes in real time, virtual interactive congressional sessions, and three-dimensional customer and tech support.

Second Life is the brainchild of Philip Rosedale, the former RealNetworks guru credited with spearheading the development of online streaming technologies. Anyone over 13 years of age can open a free account, though members between 13 and 18 participate in a separate virtual community. Within the adult version, there are PG areas and adult areas where different modes of behavior are acceptable. According to the terms of service contract, harassment of any kind in the community results in permanent expulsion.

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Discussion Comments
By StarlightSB — On Sep 01, 2020

Second life is a cesspool. It is not safe for anyone to ever be there. There is so much sexual depravity its morally and ethically corrupt and corrupting others. It ruins families, it ruins friendships, it ruins lives.

They cater to all sorts of dark dangerous unsafe fetishes and kinks and you are not allowed to ever disagree with any of the groups that sever that depravity up, that if you don't like it, just walk away, to shut up, to not say anything about it, to just accept it, tolerate it, normalize it, validate it, excuse it.

There are sims and groups that cater to abuse, snuff, vore, mutilation, forced slavery, murder, rape and that is the light stuff. It goes far darker the more you look for it.

The company that runs Second Life linden lab research does nothing to protect any of its residents from these nefarious and dangerous people and their behaviors.

They allow blackmail, extortion, intimidation, hacking of people's accounts and computers, hookers, prostitutes, whores, escorts with no regulations at all, and much worse.

They cater to the emotionally unstable and give them god-like powers in the groups and sims they run, where they can kick or ban you on a whim, preventing you from being able to return to that area or group again, just because they decided to for no reason other than that.

They allow mental and emotional and psychological abuse through the use of hypnosis and other forms of head and mind games like gaslighting and love-bombing, as well as deceptive and manipulate behaviors and the perpetuation of lies and false information.

They cater to narcissists and misogynists and the delusional and megalomaniacal and diabolical, who use their skill to take advantage over those who are lacking in understanding of the dangers within sl.

The adult areas are even worse with its BDSM that does not even follow real-life BDSM practices in the slightest. Safewords are allowed to be blocked or punished for using or told it's cheating to use them for any reason. Limits are ignored and pushed and broken by the fake dominants and masters. The false information that is passed around about what a good submissive will do and allow is totally false. Most groups perpetuate false information and disinformation to make the subs or slaves or pets be more docile or helpless or powerless and more compliant and obedient and more biddable and therefore, usable and abusable.

The BDSM collars they have allow you to be permanently locked in them or have the safeword function blocked or disabled, where the only way to get out of a situation is to log out of the client.

There are many people there who believe and claim and try to make others accept and believe that no one can be hurt there, that it's all just fake and roleplay, that you can just log out or walk away, that no harm can be done at all. which is simply not true.

They have a system called rlv that can allow others to force you to do things against your will or against your consent, and linden labs totally allow this and do nothing to anyone who abuses it. It can allow your chat to be blocked, your inventory to be blocked, your ability to see names be blocked, the ability to see the name of where you are to be blocked, your ability to see to be blocked, and many other things.

There are people who will say logging out of this rlv system is cheating or being untrustworthy or disrespectful or unfaithful or disloyal and will shame others for doing so. Some sim owners will ban you from their sim because it's cheating to use a safeword in their eyes. They will try and brainwash you into believing that logging out of rlv is bad/cheating and you should be ashamed of yourself for doing so. They say you just have to allow or accept or tolerate or agree or consent or permit or validate or excuse whatever they want to do to you through the rlv system, that you have no rights or say in it at all. They say once you turn it on, you cannot ever turn it off for any reason at all or you are worthless, trash, garbage, weak and cowardly

The egotism is astounding in sl. It is downright disgusting. It is not a safe place for any adult, man or woman, or legal age teenager.

Speaking of legal, they allow a lot of illegal behaviors and activities and because it is virtual that they are suddenly normalized and OK to do. If you don't agree, you just turn the other cheek or just ignore it or let it be. You're not allowed to say anything negative about it at all. It's just roleplay, they say. It is just fake. It's not real, so it doesn't matter.

By anon1003604 — On Jul 30, 2020

> "created entirely by its membership"

No. Not accurate. Part of it, like Linden Realms and Bellisseria is created by Linden Lab contractors ('moles').

> "Second Life includes emoticons that can be used in built-in chat sessions between players."

LOL, no. Ab-so-lutely NOT. I guess the author never even bother going in-world in SL. At. All.

> "Anyone over 13 years of age can open a free account, though members between 13 and 18 participate in a separate virtual community."

Yes, 8 years ago you could. Not anymore. There's just 1 grid for 16 years and over.

> "According to the terms of service contract, harassment of any kind in the community results in permanent expulsion."

No, some actrivities will get you banned permanenetly. Others only temporarily.

And then these images. Are they a joke?

What did the author do? Just copy paste an article from 10 years ago and made some stuff up on the side?

By anon1003593 — On Jul 28, 2020

This article is not only nearly 15 years out of date, it is wildly inaccurate. Yes, Second Life is a virtual world, and yes, you are represented by an avatar. But the avatars don't look anything like the picture shown. Most of them look like quite realistic people...but your avatar can be ANYTHING, from a huge dragon to a cardboard robot.

Second Life is free to play, but it does have an in-game currency, the Linden Dollar (L$). L$ can be bought with PayPal or a credit card, and may also be sold and turned back into real world money.

Residents can do anything in SL that can be done in Real Life, and some things that can't...like teleportation, flying, and breathing underwater.

Second Life residents enjoy socializing, including going to clubs and dancing. Many of them enjoy creating virtual objects, and buying and selling them. SL residents have created literally millions of items for the virtual world. Everything from buildings, trees, and plants to vehicles, clothing, and adornments for their avatars.

Other residents have fun playing games. There's everything from yacht racing, tennis, and hockey to roleplaying games that let you be a vampire, a faerie, a knight, or a character in a futuristic science-fiction world.

If you can imagine it, you can do it in Second Life. All it takes is a good laptop or desktop computer, and a fast internet connection. (No phones or tablets, please!)

By anon279579 — On Jul 13, 2012

I've played SL for over a year without spending a dime on it. Yes, some people probably spend a ton of money on it, but for users who are just looking to meet new people and see all the scenes other people have created, SL is a wonderful space to do that in.

By anon271898 — On May 28, 2012

As much as everyone is bashing SL, which are most, if not all, the negative points people have brought to this comment board, it can be quite enjoyable as a hobby. My thing is that I have a creative mind and to build anything in the real life would cost much, much more to do than it would to build in SL. Plus if I get hurt, I'm hurt in real life.

Let's say that I was building a table and while moving the table, it fell and crushed my leg, leaving me limping and unable to perform well at my job, at home and play with my kids. Now if I were to build that same table in SL and it slipped out of my hands and crushed my leg, there is no harm done to me in real life. After all, the whole reason I wanted to build the table up in the first place was to satisfy my creative mind.

In moderation, as a hobby, SL is great. Once you get into partnerships, collars and whatnot, your emotions come out, and can cause you to withdraw yourself from relationships with your spouse, family, friends and whoever else.

By anon257486 — On Mar 27, 2012

Well, this is good reading, and gives some sense to the plethora of the second life gimmicks.

I am the former partner of an SL 24/7 lifer - as to be honest that's all it is: a real life sentence. My partner of two decades got absorbed into this awful world, spending huge amounts of money on sick fantasies, gay life, Sm stuff, vampire and lycan lifestyles.

The result was a break up of our marriage, savings gone and unemployment. Then a real life meeting and romance with someone off second life, who came from another part of the world. To be honest, it's a real sickness that has no cure.

I'm trying to now build my life again, without the partner I loved, and it is so hard. My advice to any spouse who cares for their love: get them off this crap asap and go for therapy. Otherwise you lose and well, they become avatars in real life, trying to hold sl profiles in facebook, twitter, etc. in the hope of making second life real life without any success.

To all second lifers: get a real life!

By satistic — On Sep 01, 2011

Anon8968 hit it right on the mark and everything he mentioned is exactly true. I have been on sl since back in ‘06 (for five years now) and I’ve been all over the grid. Everything that I have seen in sl is exactly how he has mentioned it. If you are smart, you wouldn’t waste your time “playing” a game where people are just looking to take advantage of those who are less fortunate just so they can make a few bucks. This extends to all of Second Life, no matter where you go, including combat sims, clubs, and everywhere else on sl you think would be different.

Wherever you go there is always someone looking to make a quick buck or, in some cases, looking for a power trip, and I recommend more than anything for men to stay away, as most, if not all, real women (not excluding men/gays pretending to be women) are simply looking to toy with the emotions of others to satisfy their need to feel wanted or to swindle them out of hundreds -- if not thousands -- of dollars (which I don’t see as being different than being a prostitute).

I will also mention that there are men who do the same and that there are other reasons I’m sure people look to toy with others I can’t even fathom. I know several people who have had these kinds of experiences and it’s more than I wish to count and unfortunately I can’t exclude myself from being a statistic in some cases.

Issues in sl spill into real life, like marriages breaking up and people losing their life savings like the post above. If you decide to check it out, I suggest not spending a dime or doing some retarded “partnership/sl marriage,” or you will be suckered into “their” game and losing any self worth you have left.

There is nothing good/fun about sl as it is perceived to be, and that also includes building, unless you’re just looking to make a quick buck. But unless you pour thousands of dollars into a “game,” don’t expect anything, especially when people can easily copybot the things you make.

SL used to be something of a free world, although gambling was allowed back then (I admit this was fun when it existed, but I think we all know how gambling works), but that changed rapidly over the years or perhaps I just never realized it because I was a sucker like so many before me. Just like I’m sure there will be after me.

By anon192979 — On Jul 03, 2011

It's a place where people can play tycoon online filled with political corruption and sheer vanity. Second Life is not a "free" world. Second-Life is dominantly monopoly (Anshe Chung is everywhere for private land use) and is very expensive (up to 1,000 USD for an "installation fee," which is nothing more than renting out a chunk of land that LL can take back easily and you owe no rights to). The smaller land is practically worthless as Linden Labs put "prim" restrictions on it, which can fill up very quickly and can result in very cheap and lazy land areas.

It appeals to the older generation that look at Second-Life for sex and cash. People have serious issues and are almost always willing to pour their drama into Second-Life always as a "get away" and are too willing to mix virtual reality with reality, which is the dangerous golden rule of what not to do on the inter-webs in a pix elated environment. People tend to be very oddball acting on Second Life, and very territorial. Grid Barons practically pile up in the server with their stench and can literally control where someone goes, or not.

Second Life is also very unforgiving and people have a tendency to tag and "follow" people with their garbage throughout the forums and inside the game. Even more so that they can put people on "region bans" where you are banned from another area even if you were there or not, as long as they are listed under the region-ban "system".

Not only are the majority of the graphics severely outdated and downright ugly, but the server lags so bad on the mainland that it's impossible to have a vehicle without the client crashing itself, the animations range from sloppy to "good", sex animations are often choppy/unrealistic/sloppy. Most avatars have an old, ugly noob-look to them consisting of a barbie doll's horror house.

Second Life has practically ruined what a free-building world should be, mostly by allowing real currency exchange through their platform. Linden Lab's customer service is bland and the majority of the time they act as though they cannot help the customer, nor does LL tell the customer of the status of their account so they are always left in the dark if their account manages to get taken away from them.

Grid barons also have damaged Second Life tremendously. The age of "free-roaming" is unheard of Second Life. Many times you're running into ban-lines of some shack someone put on the mainland, or having to butt-kiss some land owner in order to stay in some place and halfway "enjoy" it. Second Life is exciting as dirt. There is practically nothing to actually do in the server other than being under some owner's whirl and whim. The lack of professionalism combined with the constant reality plus virtual reality mixture LL spews upon their website has been a receipt for disaster.

Favoritism runs the grid, so beware. Don't expect any real liability or professionalism from these "owners" who are nothing more than other customers themselves. Linden Lab has banned universities and individual artist from Second Life, because some of them thought outside the box (Save-Me-Oh did absolutely nothing wrong and was hassled wrongfully because of that stupid TOS which Second Life users treat as a bible and often times bring it up as such).

If you want to be a boring, uncreative, money-lured bigot who stays on and only plays Second Life 24/7, then this piece of crap is the place for you. I guarantee you will be bored to death upon entering your first hub, and will get banned quickly for using a toy gun or simply because of your avatar's age, or, because the owners feel like it!

Please do not waste your time or money on Second Life. It's a trap design to suck you in and drain you of your wallet and try to force you to constantly be under rules, rules and more rules to satisfy everyone who owns land. People are corrupt on Second Life just as much as they are in real life, often times making gang-up "groups" whose sole purpose is to flood LL with abuse reports to get people locked out of Second Life. Once you're locked out, all your stuff is deleted, even if you've "paid" for it. (LL has a bad tendency of hardware banning people for anything, and unfortunately newbies in sandboxes fall for this and end up getting their accounts banned even if they did nothing wrong and were tricked into opening something, nothing that LL warns about on their website!)

Schemes, data mining, arrogance and bigotry run the grid. Sta away from Second Life. If you have ever played or used any other game, you'll be sorely disappointed at the lack of opportunities and high competition rate. This is not a user-friendly game and often times aims at corporate businesses and wanna-be businesses charging ridiculous amounts of money for their fake, DMCA ridden products and to restrict free-style and free-roaming users as much as possible.

The wannabe Second Life meta-verses are basically the same (InWorldz, etc). Until a company decides to make a real "free" roaming metaverse that people can interact with as they do on similar games or mmo's (which are the strong dominance of the game world) or add an actual fun element to their platform, you will always have these metaverses asking for large amounts of money and giving the consumer very little in return, buried under a set of rules after rules to the point of complication, after rules and treating these meta-verses almost as "Real Life" with a politically correct "community".

By anon130722 — On Nov 29, 2010

My husband spent our life savings while unemployed and involved in Second Life. He was depressed and this was his escape to a virtual world. I knew nothing of it at the time. Second Life is a scam, getting unstable or addictive people to "buy" items for USD that are not real. My husband has nothing to show for his Second Life belongings other than a zero bank account!

By anon77405 — On Apr 14, 2010

if you want to be fair, you will post the messages whether they are pro or con. this is what's important, that you do what is right in your heart and you can sleep at night and have peace of mind. linden dollars take your usd and second life is a way of escaping your real life. so, it is a fraud! be sure you tell the truth to people before they try it.

By anon77401 — On Apr 14, 2010

get a life! promote real world connection and communications, OK?

By anon77400 — On Apr 14, 2010

it is one of the worst things that could happen. The virtual world is a way to destroy marriages. It

promotes real world connection and communication and then you will not need a virtual world.

By malena — On Mar 02, 2008

Really? I thought camping for someone could earn you linden dollars. That is, if you stay at a place to raise the owner's traffic, he might pay you for increasing his traffic and therefore increasing his standing in search results.

By anon8968 — On Feb 25, 2008

No one gets Linden dollars just for members investigating their build.

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