Porno and propriety

“Who are those two naked people in your room?”

It was a reasonable, if somewhat unexpected question, aimed at one of my friends whose inworld pad was just across the street. The two people in question, it turns out, weren’t just naked, but were also in the throws of some quite athletic and creative activities of the sort normally found on websites from the seedier side of the .net.

Even in the company of good friends, it’s not exactly the story of question that you’d feel entirely comfortable answering, since if you’re going to confess to knowing that they’re there, it’s implicit that they are they with your consent and that you’re running some sort of establishment of ill repute. On the other hand, if their presence comes as a surprise, you have to then deal with the fact that a couple of complete strangers have seen fit to get down and dirty under your own duvet and in full view of the picture of your mum that you keep next to the bed, entirely without your knowledge. Either scenario is more than a little unsavoury, unless you are entirely without scruples or any sense of decorum.

In this particular instance, I’m sorry to say, it was a case of the latter… Leading to some animated discussion about what should be done about the matter. Had it been my place, it would have been a simple case of eject and ban, (followed by fumigation and a deep clean of everything within sight) – however, being just a tenant renting a room, my friend didn’t have that option. We toyed with the idea of a group of us descending en masse to provide an appreciative audience for the performance, or mischievously rezzing a shedload of prims right in the middle of the action. Personally, I was all for rezzing a big scoreboard in the room and giving them points for technique and artistic merit; but in the end, the landlord gave them the boot.

Now, I know we’re only dealing with pixels here, and the on screen representation inworld of such things is far removed from the real thing, but even so, I can’t help but be challenged by how the virtual environment can alter and corrupt our moral values and sensibilities. This particular incident crystallises several points where this is the case.

Firstly, there’s the most obvious corruption of morality: Whilst I’m sure that there are those in RL who would find the scenario both fortuitous and titillating, I don’t think that the majority of us would ever really break into a complete stranger’s home and get down to business on their living room sofa, or have a poke around (ahem) the bedroom, and play around with the contents of the owner’s secret ‘toy box’. Yet this is one of those things that happens all too frequently inworld – how many of us have returned home to our little virtual hideaway, only to find a couple of pose balls – the ones that we pretend we don’t own – rezzed over the bed, and clear signs that ‘something’ has been going on back home whilst we’ve been out shopping for shoes?

Then there’s the weird sense of violation that we experience as the victim of an unfortunate incident of this kind. The world may be virtual, the setting completely made up, and the activities may only be animations. No bodily fluids were spilled, no physical contact was made, and there’s no tell-tale wet patch to contend with, but the distasteful sense of dirtiness is no less powerful than if the real thing had occurred. Such is the power of the immersive virtual experience.

Finally, from an entirely different perspective, what on earth were we – the onlookers – thinking? Whilst again there will be some who’d be quite happy to spectate whilst somebody else was getting down and dirty, I’m pretty sure that faced with the scenario in RL, the majority response would be acute embarrassment and unwillingness to even observe, particularly if the action was occurring, uninvited, within your own home. Yet inworld, every one of us present on this occasion had a good old nose at what was going down (if you’ll excuse the expression), and whilst the appropriate thing would probably have been to look away and leave our friend to go and do the virtual equivalent of hammering on the door and ordering the aberrant couple to get the hell out of there, we instead zoomed in and got as close to the action as we could.

Such sensibilities are, of course, extremely relative, and how we will react in any given situation isn’t always a forgone conclusion, but I do find it fascinating just how much SL can blur the lines between what we would find unacceptable in the real world, but perfectly OK when logged in. Similarly, it’s remarkable just how much our sensibilities can be ruled by what we see on the screen in front of us, no matter how much we may tell ourselves it isn’t real – in many ways, that’s is exactly what it feels like!

s. x

In books
And films
And in life
And in heaven
The sound of slaughter
As your body turns
The Cure – Pornography

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, SL. Bookmark the permalink.

What do you say?

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s