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!

 

BB:hi
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. 🙂