That was the question posed during a recent conversation, and my honest response was, “actually, no – I can’t say I have noticed that”. During the course of the ongoing conversation, it transpired that my view was not held by the questioner… This, apparently well-travelled person on the Grid, seemed to think that pretty much everywhere they’d explored was dealt with lust-ridden avatars craving just one thing; that every conversation, IM and teleport request had only one ulterior motive; and that the whole of SL is a seething hotbed of, well being hot and bothered, both in and out of bed.
I was regaled with stories of how this person’s first lindens were earned by sexually humiliating others for cash, and to be quite honest, it all seemed just a little bit over the top. My own experience, gained over a far longer period than this avatar, during which I’ve explored a massive amount of the virtual world, is that sex – in all its forms – is indeed out there, but it’s by no means anything like the epidemic proportions that people will seem to think that it is.
The whole ‘sex every corner you turn’ thing has been the bane of SL almost since day one. Back in the frontier days there was, I admit, an awful lot of it going on – but times have changed and much of those early excesses are nowhere near what the media hype would have once led you to believe. I’d be a fool if I was to deny that such things do go on, and go on routinely in places and circumstances that they shouldn’t, but it’s certainly not the picture of epidemic proportions that so many people seem to think it is.
It’s perfectly possible to wander around the Grid for weeks, even months at a time, without every once coming across copulation, indecency or anything at all of a remotely suggestive nature. Then again, it’s also perfectly possible to run into naughtiness, be constantly propositioned and see sights that would make your eyes water, if you choose to frequent certain places, or happen to give give out particular signs that say to those around you that you’re interested in such things. Again, that’s not to say that anyone is immune to being propositioned, randomly messaged with invitations to get it on with strangers or occasionally stumble across a half naked avatar who clearly didn’t just forget to put their glitch pants on that morning… But I’d say you’re far more likely to come across those situations if you put yourself in the position for it to happen.
I also feel compelled to question whether SL is any different to any other medium, or life in general when it comes to such things. Songs, paintings, novels, photography, film and the Internet all have a duality in their representation of the world and focus – if you like, they all have their ‘naughty’ and their ‘nice’ sides. Probe in any depth into the ‘naughty’ side of any of these and you’ll find there’s an awful lot of it going on – in fact, it can be extremely easy to form the opinion that there’s an overwhelming bias towards sexuality which, in truth that’s almost certainly a misapprehension. Let’s face it, this probably mirrors the reality of the human condition anyway – if it wasn’t for sex, and the primal urges and drive that it stimulates, then the human race would be doomed… It’s a very necessary aspect of human nature that, even if we wanted to, we really shouldn’t attempt to ignore or pretend doesn’t exist!
With that in mind, I think it’s probably a good thing that, at least for a decent proportion of our lives we do have an healthy obsession with sex, and if SL is to achieve anything like a passable imitation to real life, then it stands to reason that a good proportion of us are going to have a healthy obsession with it in the virtual world too.
And there’s nothing wrong with that either!
Oh in your council home he jumped on your bones
Now you’re taking it time after time
Oh it turns you on on now he has gone
Oh what turns you on now your animal’s gone?
Suede – Animal Nitrate