• I'm a librarian on Second Life, a librarian on reference chat, a librarian on Facebook, a librarian on Twitter, and even a librarian on World of Warcraft! And yes, I am a librarian in real life! (that last one is easy to forget sometimes) :)
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    No such thing as bad press?

    This morning, one of my colleagues told me about a news story last night which depicted Second Life as a dangerous world of predators, pornography and pedophiles.

    These are the kind of stories that always bother me. Major media outlets are always looking for the next big thing that we need to fear. Whenever a new technology emerges onto the market, news networks will immediately feature special reports about the new and innovative ways that the technology is being used to psychologically damage our children. When the Internet was born, parents were told that it was possible for their children to be innocently doing research for their high school homework assignment and have their eyes suddenly assaulted by a full-color high-resolution photo of a depraved woman engaged in the type of activities that would make Larry Flynt blush. (or at least, that’s how mama’s special little angel would tell her that the image got there on the screen when she walked into the room without knocking) I shouldn’t wonder that when radio came out on the scene, newspaper columns were doubtlessly devoted to the ways in which The Shadow and Inner Sanctum were turning our kids into murderers and monsters.

    But I’m actually going to talk about a different news story entirely.

    You see, when I started searching for the story on Second Life and Internet predators, I found another news story entirely. This one is a doozy.

    The story is here: http://www.nbc10.com/news/17266191/detail.html

    It is the story of Kimberly Jernigan and Name Withheld, a couple who had a tumultuous romance in the world of Second Life. After dating online for a short while, the couple agreed to meet in real life. After meeting the love of his life in person, the sensitive Mr. Withheld decided to break off the relationship. Perhaps we’ll never know exactly what inspired him to break it off with Miss Jernigan. Was there some flaw in her personality that made him unable to consummate this love? Was she perhaps too beautiful for Name, such that he feared being able to measure up to her? Whatever the reason, Mr. Withheld chose to bring the relationship to an end.

    Which brings me to an important point about love and relationships in virtual worlds. Dear readers, I’d like you all to envision the most beautiful person that you know, be it Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, or Brad Pitt. Imagine if you will that this person is also everything that you’d want in a lover, a friend, or a companion. I’m sure that they have flaws, but let’s ignore that for a moment. Now let us pretend that this person were to gain a few pounds. Now picture them gaining a few dozen pounds. Would you still love Angelina Jolie if she were tipping the scales at … 168lbs? Probably, I mean she’s still Angelina. How about 200lbs? Would Brad Pitt be nearly as hot if those amazing abs of his were replaced by a beer gut? Yes? Good for you! Okay, now let’s add a few years on these people. In 2026, Salma Hayek will be 60 years old. Would you still love her if she were starting to show signs of age? Even if she’d also gained 20 or 30 pounds as age settled on her? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, then congratulations, you’re probably much less shallow than most people.

    These are all things to consider when you decide to meet your virtual lover in realspace. Even a gothic beauty such as this:

    may actually represent someone who looks like:

    To make a long story short, Mr. Name Withheld spurned Miss Kimberly Jernigan and broke her heart.  This forced Miss Jernigan to stalk her Second Life suitor back to his apartment, at which point she attempted to zap him with a taser, handcuff him, and throw him into the trunk of her car.  She even duct-taped her own dog so that he’d be quiet during the would-be abduction.  Fortunately for Mr. Withheld, he managed to escape before getting zapped, and contacted the police.  Miss Jernigan is being brought up on charges by the Delaware police as well as the ASPCA. (re: dog-taping incident)

    As if the story could not get any better, Miss Jernigan found her erstwhile boyfriend by posing as a postal worker.

    So to those of you who carry on Second Life romances, who have virtual lovers and online paramours in other cities and states.  To anyone who is certain that the wonderful person with whom you’ve shared many meaningful late-night conversations and scandalous online encounters with is absolutely the love of your life …

    PLEASE be careful out there, okay?

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