The Watchers

Who are they? Where do they come from? What is their purpose? Should we be afraid?

i call them ‘the Watchers’ – a phenomenon that i’ve only recently come across, and one that perplexes and intrigues me. The most notable of these strange characters first came to my attention via a friend: “Have you noticed that guy, Tumbleweed Blackthorn?”, she asked(name changed, to protect the freaky). Yes, i had noticed him – the chap seemed to be in the vicinity a fair amount of the time, but i hadn’t realised just how persistent he was. My friend went on to tell me how he was always around and that, without fail, he always chose to remain in one of only two specific spots – never walking about or becoming involved in the activities around him… he simply waited and watched. What’s more, he unfailingly managed to log back in after Sim restarts and, no matter what time of day or night you happened to pass by, there he would be!


‘Tumbleweed’ had become a bit of a minor celebrity with the regulars at the local dance club, whose wall he insisted on standing behind; becoming a sort of honorary member by virtue of his constant presence… but as to his purpose or reasons for being there, that’s anyone’s guess.

Then, yesterday, i acquired my very own Watcher!

Whilst chatting with a friend and pottering around Nowhere Land, a stranger turned up – not a particularly noteworthy occurrence, since it’s been a pretty busy week around these parts. We didn’t pay much attention to the new arrival, who after standing for a while – presumably waiting to rez – sat down on a nearby bench and stayed there, for a very, very long time.

Now, i do realise that it’s not unknown for people to fall asleep at their keyboards, be called away or to simply wander off whilst logged in, so whilst i thought it a little unusual to find her still sat there some three hours later, i simply gave a pixellated shrug, logged out and went to bed…

…She was still there first thing this morning; and still there at lunchtime; at 7pm, this evening, she was still reclining on the bench, where i’d left her last night and i’m pretty certain that she’ll still be there when i log in later tonight, (she was… and she’s still there now!). It all strikes me as very odd, indeed.

Back in the days when camping was all the rage, it would be nothing to see whole gangs of avatars aimlessly hanging around to earn a few measly lindens or the occasional ‘gift’, but the days of serious camping are long gone and, even so, nobody is going to camp out in some random spot with no reward for their pains, surely? The thought did cross my mind that the Watchers may be bots, hence their persistence and lack of mobility, but to what effect? – They don’t appear to be doing anything good, or untoward; they don’t appear to be griefing, spamming or claiming chunks of land that become available… they just hang around and do, pretty much, nothing.

Alien, or just an everyday vampire?

With such little to go on, the more paranoid and enquiring side of my mind tends to kick in: Are these Lindens, incognito, spying upon residents as they go about their daily business? It seems unlikely. Perhaps they are subversive recruiters for underground organisations – watching for potential candidates to enrol in their clandestine plans? Just maybe, they are the vanguard of an alien invasion force, silently biding their time before unveiling their true nature, as they deploy their slime-dripping, lizardy mouse-eating, retractable-toothed alien forces to take over earth…

Perhaps they’re all or none of those things – but for now, for me, they shall remain the Watchers – enigmatic and obtuse.

The sensible amongst you are no doubt shaking their heads in dismay and wondering why on earth i don’t just ask them what they’re up to – nah, that would spoil the surprise!

i wonder if she’s noticed me, watching her?

s. x

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you
The Police – Every Breath You Take 

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4 Responses to The Watchers

  1. Ha, Tumbleweed. Love it! Will refer to him as that from now on! If your watcher stays a few days she needs a nickname too.

  2. monti paule says:

    Watchers could be of ethnic origin, people who need to replicate something psychologically missing, which was culturally present in their own country but lacking in their current environment, where people congregate and intermingle in the city square or cafe. Perhaps because they feel socially alienated just being present amongst others, even in a virtual existence, goes towards to help reconcile feelings of social isolation.
    I remember in 2nd life, the early days, at Violet, there were people who could be interpreted as watchers. Non participatory in the machinations of our goings ons, but eventually got compromised, would initiate, if we were interesting enough, Watching people for extended periods certainly would alienate rather than endear the person to whom he or she would want to associate.
    if it’s weeks, where there is no interaction, there must be some explanation, of this phenomena occurring and it does cause to entertain other theories, For some there is a general consensus of opinion, that 2nd life is a game for sociopaths,
    If this is a new phenomena probably a psychological conditioning process to make residents feel being watched, is the norm, part of the conditioning process, with video surveillance, and the monitoring of Internet activity. in 2nd life people should at least have an illusion of privacy I’d be inclined to eject the Watcher.

    • Thanks Monti – really interesting observations there that i’d not thought to consider. Just because sl is a social environment doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody will find it easy or straightforward to mingle and interact with others – particularly if they find themselves on the fringes of a close-knit group, who already have their own social conventions and ties. There’s no reason to suppose that those who find social situations difficult in rl wouldn’t experience the same reticence in sl, although as you say, the psychological need to be in a socialised setting may be strong enough to draw them in.

      Certainly there’s always the danger that someone on the margins of any group can be perceived as an intrusion, or an unwelcome or hostile presence – there’s a balancing act between what is seen acceptable loitering against intrusive trolling when the socially reticent come into contact with an established and overtly social group or location.

      As for ejecting – i’d reserve such treatment for the blatant voyeurs who choose to abuse the privacy of others, and those whose behaviour is such that others find it offensive or objectionable – in the main, the ‘Watcher’ who is doing no harm has the same right to the peaceful enjoyment of their sl as anybody else.

      Thanks for your thought-provoking comment. 🙂

      s. x

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