It's a post about this:
I don't like these things. I'm about to tell you why. But maybe you can change my mind. We'll get to that in a minute.
But first, yeah, I've seen so many blog posts about the upcoming Culture Shock event that I feel like I have Culture Shock Blog Post Shock.
So you won't find that here. (Mainly because I didn't get invited to blog it. WHAT?? WHY?? I take the best pictures and write the best fashion posts in Second Life! Ninety-nine people like me! Crushed and confused!)
Kidding. In all seriousness, it sounds like a good cause. I'm glad it's getting a ton of play. Please support it.
Actually, I've been wanting to write about a different kind of culture shock -- at least for me -- for some time now, and that's the culture of child AVs in SL.
I only took one picture for this post, and it's the award-worthy one up top. Even camming in on the back of a child AV in a store made me feel seedy, so much so that I had to borrow the other picture in this post from a friend. So that's why I wanted to talk about it. And I'd like to ask some questions.
This post might offend some people, but those are exactly the people I'm hoping will offer some insights.
Ready? Here we go.
[Unfortunately, this section has now been deleted at the request of someone who does not wish me to share her story, even anonymously. My deepest apologies. To sum it up: I am aware that there are people in SL who are role-playing child abuse scenarios, and it makes me physically ill.]
I realize that in the realm of family role-playing in SL, the violence my friend witnessed that night is deviant behavior and not the norm. I want to assure people that I'm fully aware of this fact.
But that aside, here's some brutal honesty: Child AVs have always creeped me out. The thought of a grown adult sitting in a room somewhere pretending to be a five-year-old disturbs me on a pretty deep level. Add to that the fact that I've seen child AVs -- and stores that cater to them -- increase and become more mainstream during the past year. So apparently the lifestyle is getting more popular, or at least it appears to be. When I first joined SL three years ago, child AVs were sort of taboo. Now they seem to be everywhere.
Photo courtesy of Alicia Chenaux
This one, for example, approached another friend of mine in a public area and asked her to be her mommy. Somewhere out there, an adult was on a computer, dressing an AV like a child and asking another adult to be her mommy.
I don't like them. Or more accurately, my rational mind does not like them. When they approach me in stores and talk to me in baby talk, I usually answer, "Why are you an adult pretending to be a child?" which sends them (literally) skipping away or wailing "Mommmmmmy!" and running to the AV who's playing the parent.
Here's the thing, though, and I'm bolding this statement because it's kind of the cornerstone of this post:
Yes, I'm freaked out by child AVs, but I realize that -- like all prejudices against any different culture, race, lifestyle, religion, etc. -- the roots of my disgust lie in ignorance (as in, a lack of knowledge, not stupidity, although some may beg to differ), misunderstandings and assumptions.
1. I don't know anything about the dynamics of this culture (beyond the fact that it seems like it must be mandatory for child AVs to be annoying as hell in public).
2. I can't wrap my mind around the concept because I just don't understand it.
3. I assume that adults who like to pretend to be small children have some serious issues they need to deal with.
I once heard someone say that she's a child in SL because she had an abusive childhood, and SL allows her to experience what it's like to have loving parents, which helps heal the wounds from her past. I just don't know if I can get with that reasoning. Essentially she was saying that she's putting what she considers to be a form of therapy in the hands of strangers online who have no professional training. It concerned me. I wanted to hug her.
In RL, it's my job to do everything I can to ensure the success of the companies and professionals who are my clients. Looking through this business lens, I did think of one reason for becoming a child AV that I'd possibly consider to be legitimate, and that's to provide a paid service to other SL residents. I know people in SL who have gotten married and role-played a pregnancy. For people who want to get that deeply immersed in their SL experience, I can see how the next logical step might be to role-play raising a child together. So, as mercenary as it sounds, I can completely relate to someone who would rent out their services as a child AV as a form of employment. I liken it to being a paid actor.
Beyond that, I can't fathom why anyone would want to live a virtual life as a child. After doing it for a while, it's got to mess with your head, no? I ask because sometimes when I'm spending my lunch hour at my desk at work, I think about horse combinations or create spreadsheets of procreating pixel cats so I can keep track of who's zoomin' who and what their offspring look like. (Yes, that is scary and pathetic, I know.)
I don't like generalizing people, and I don't like it when I realize that I'm judging someone based on appearance or lifestyle. I'm all about peace, love, understanding and laughs, or at least I strive to be. So if you've made it to the conclusion of this post, I leave you with a couple of requests:
1. If you know someone who RPs as a child AV, would you mind asking that person to take a look at this post and shed some light on why he or she does it?
2. I've read some excellent blog posts that do an excellent job of explaining some of SL's other oft-misunderstood subcultures. However, I've never seen a blog post written by someone who talks about the choice to be a child in SL. If you're aware of any, could you please share the link in comments?
I don't have a catchy way to end this post, so I guess I'll just say thanks for reading and have a great night or day or whatever it is when you're reading this.