Stranger Danger

Since beginning my second life on Second Life back in March, I have had such great experiences and have met such wonderful, welcoming people through SL, Twitter and the DEN.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given a house in Chilbo by Fleep Tuque. I love my little house and I’ve met my neighbors and follow them on Twitter as well.

I’ve attended professional development and social events at the DEN and through ISTE during which I met in SL many of the great educators I’ve met in real life or on Twitter.

Having said all of this, I’ve met many new people in Second Life that were strangers at one time or another, but I met them in an environment that was appropriate. It wasn’t like I struck up a conversation with someone in a freebie store or when I was a complete “Newbie” and walking through the Ben & Jerry’s Orientation island.  I had some unspoken rules in mind similar to what I teach teachers, students and my own children to use as guidelines. (These are a bit different since they were for me. Had I been working with kids I would never have let them include their personal information in their SL profiles.)

  1. Only IM (instant message) with people that I know
  2. Have a Landmarks (similar to Favorites) folder of familiar, appropriate, recommended places to visit
  3. If I feel uncomfortable about something, log out and let someone know about it immediately.

In general, I follow my rules. But a couple of days ago, I returned to my house on Chilbo after having a very nice conversation with a fellow Rutgers staffer on RUCE. I always return to my house before logging off. It’s one of the great benefits of having real estate on SL. I walked away from my computer for just a minute and when I returned – there was an unfamiliar avatar sitting on my couch!


Me: Who are you?
BB: hi
Me: Hi – What are you doing in my house?
BB: im youre new boyfriend :-p
Me: Not really. Are you a chilbo resident?
BB: no passing by
Me: Nice meeting you – bye bye now.
BB: youre leaving ?
Me: You are.
BB: ill think about it
Me: Interesting – this has never happened before.
Me: You must be really bored.
BB: nope just checking this game out
Me: Oh – well I don’t use it for a game.
Me: I use it for work
BB: what kind of work?
Me: Not telling – but you need to leave – you are on private property.
BB: dont worry im not going to eat you
Me: ha ha
BB: this is just pixels remember
BB: ?
Me: Yes, but you are distracting,
BB: verry well then m gone

We can all pick a part how I handled the situation. I was caught a little off guard. My first instinct was to follow Rule #3 and log out, but he was in my house and I was concerned that he would possibly do something to my house or would still be there when I logged back on.

I did send a Tweet out to my PLN and got several immediate suggestions on what to do. (Thank you so much for the quick responses.) I also met with Fleep the next day and she banned BB from my house so that he could never return.

What’s the protocol for Stranger Danger as an adult in Second Life? I talk to strangers all the time in my first life and my four-year-old frequently scolds me as she doesn’t understand boundaries and social graces yet. How do we teach our students and children to be polite, generate new friendships and exchange information with people that can potentially be their friends or of some interest to them in real life or in virtual worlds and maintain boundaries?

I welcome your suggestions. I don’t welcome strangers on my couch. I’m Emanna Romano in Second Life should you want to discuss this in World, we can arrange a public place to meet. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Stranger Danger

  1. Lisa, the fact that people have nothing better to do than to annoy others has constantly amazed me, too!

    When we did OpenPD last month, there were three different times that trolls came into our chat rooms. It wasn’t until we learned a few of the tricks with chat that we were able to get them to leave. Imagine: you’re teaching a class with 40 people from all around the world, using chat and one of the primary means of communication between participants. A troll enters the room, annoys everyone, and you’re powerless to kick them out.


    Thanks for sharing this example. I guess one benefit to not having real estate in SL is that you never have strangers sitting on your couch!

  2. Darren – I would love to know what those tricks were.!

    I look foward to the day I’m ready to do PD in SL. I love what I’ve seen in ISTE and the DEN – so impressive.
    It must be difficult to predict what may go wrong with technology that is still so new.

    Please share when you get the chance.


  3. Well, at first we used a public Meebo chat room. It was nice because folks didn’t need a username/pw to enter. It was bad because folks didn’t need a username/pw to enter. 🙂 One night a troll entered and as soon as we would kick them out, they would re-enter again with a different handle. Ugh.

    We finally settled on the Ustream chat. Even though our class participated through the room we embedded on our wiki, we learned that if we were logged into the actual channel page, then administrators could monitor the room. A valuable lesson in the end.

  4. vampire says:

    I think is quite messed up when parents play secondlife, this is just a game. you have a child! there is always things to do cleaning or playing with them in “free time”. Your child needs you, you don’t need this game.

  5. Well Vampire – Thank you for carefully taking the time to read my post about how I was using Second Life for work. I appreciate your comment. Come back again and next time please read carefully before you judge me.

  6. Only problem with that statement, Vampire, is that in this case Second Life is being used for work-related purposes, to educate students and engage them in learning. And of course, you’re just automatically assuming that she’s using Second Life when the kids aren’t at school, outside playing, down for a nap, at their friend’s house, in bed for the night, or any other time when such activity doesn’t interfere with parent-child time. There’s no reason to cast judgment without knowing all the facts.

    I’d be much more concerned about parents who are addicted to games like World of Warcraft (just an example) and neglect their families because of it. Happens all the time, unfortunately. (Just see the “Widows of Warcraft” newsgroup for an example).

  7. Anne says:

    Great post – I am not a SL yet, but am working on it. You asked, “I talk to strangers all the time in my first life and my four-year-old frequently scolds me as she doesn’t understand boundaries and social graces yet. How do we teach our students and children to be polite…”
    I taught my son “not to talk to strangers” – he is an adult now and in his job (much like mine) we talk to “strangers” every day. I recently learned of teaching our children to not talk to people who cause them to feel discomfort. Teach them to “listen” to their own feelings about others – of course, they are never to go off with anyone, but smiling and saying hello is not harmful at all if they wish to. By instilling fear of “strangers” in our children we may set them up for a life of fear (as my mother did with me – she is a very fear based person). It is essential as well that they learn not to be taken by others for “goods” or to “find a lost puppy”, etc. but if we teach them to listen to their ‘gut’ they will be far better off that being confused over who is a “stranger” and who is not.

  8. @Anne – Are we born with that “gut” or do we develop it over time? I think it’s a combination of both and we need to help our children develop a sense of security. I’m glad my daughter said that to me because I’ve since changed what I say to them to be more middle-of-the-road.

  9. Anne says:

    I truly think we are born with the “gut” but are not taught to use/listen to it. I think it certainly develops as we develop, but we need to teach our children to listen to it. Yes, I changed the language in which I used to teach my son not to “talk to strangers.” When he was little and “caught” me talking to someone, he would say, “Do you know that person (no) – then they are a stranger.” Too astute! I will explain to the kids now that I felt comfortable and safe enough to talk to that person. I hope they will learn the same.

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