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Posts Tagged ‘stalkers’

A recent survey has revealed that 1 in 100 Americans is being stalked. When I heard the story on the radio today I was walking back home from buying takeaways for my family (yes I use an old-school radio walkman, not an IPod). I looked up my street and figured there were easily over 100 people living there and started wondering how many were being stalked right that moment by perhaps someone in a car that I walked past watching their house…

Then I remembered I don’t live in America :p

But really, 1 in 100 is huge. I’ve written a few times before in this blog about stalkers in Second Life. I’d theorized that their prevalence in Second Life was because of factors like the anonymity and the pure ease of it. The article I’ve linked above says the technology available to stalkers now (in real life) has not increased their numbers, but rather is just “another tool in their toolkit”. Which has lead me to do some further thinking along these lines: Is there perhaps something about Second Life which stalker-personalities find attractive? The article has raised quite a few questions that I’m keen to address. The first thing I’d like to clarify is this though: Exactly how prevalent is stalking in Second Life? Is my perception of how wide spread it is, distorted for some reason, and if so, why?

So I’m setting up a poll attached to this post to see if you have been stalked in Second Life. I’m semi-reluctant to set up polls because it may be a tad pathetic if / when only no people take part in them, but screw it, I’m gonna run it anyway (and depending on the level of response will blog on the result later too).

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This is the next installment in my stalker series: The typical stalkee.

I was interested to hear in the responses to my last stalker post that being stalked wasn’t as widespread a phenomena as I was lead to believe by my own experiences and by my other friends! So I thought it would make sense to consider what makes someone the ideal stalking target.

First up, let’s not be cruel enough to assume that the stalkee “deserves” the behaviour. It has to be in the stalker’s nature to be that way in the first place, but we’ll be getting to analysing the classic SL stalker later.

The classic SL stalkee will have open communication channels: If you never reply to the person trying to talk to you it will be far less likely that they’ll become obsessed. I’ve written before about my own open nature and the fact I will accept most friendship offers. I will talk to anyone who talks to me when I first meet them, and I have no interest in changing that about myself. This of course makes it much easier for a stalker to think I might be interested in them – let’s be clear, it takes extremely little for a stalker to think you have some sort of relationship with them. “Hello” can be full of secret messages and longing for them.

The classic SL stalkee will also be too nice to tell the stalker to bugger off, at least, not at first. Where other people might be much more direct or be clearer about their utter lack of interest in the person, the stalkee will try to be at least minimally friendly and “leave the door open” instead of slamming it in their perverted faces.

Another thing a good stalkee must do is be in-world often enough for the person to obsess over. If you only turn up in SL every week or so you’re far less likely to become their obsession – they’ll eventually find someone far more accessible who “deserves” their loving attention.

Oddly enough, I also recognise another attribute in SL stalkees – confidence. Maybe it adds to the person’s aura and charisma if they come across as confident and strong..? I suspect this will make more sense to me when I get down to analysing the classic SL stalker.

I don’t know how much this list of attributes makes someone a good target for an RL stalker too, I can see some cross-over sure, but at least for SL this list rings true for my experiences and my observations of others.

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I’m pretty sure everyone who has been in SL for more than a few months has at some point got themselves a stalker. The incidence of stalkers in SL is a heck of a lot higher than in RL, and I can see a few reasons for this which I’ve been thinking through a lot lately and have decided to put down in a post. I’m going to cover it under three headings: Ease, consequences, and repeat offenders.

The first thing to consider is that these people who carry out this offensive behaviour are just as annoying and immature in RL, but RL provides restrictions on their ability to get away with it that SL does not: Ease and consequences.

Is it very easy to stalk people in SL because of the ability to create new alts who appear to pose no threat; because of the ability to IM people even when they aren’t in sight; and the ease with which they can track your movement and cross from location to location trying to find you. The effort, time and money required to do the equivalent in RL would put off a fair few of these freaks, but in SL it is no barrier.

Similarly the consequences of such action in RL – like public humiliation and getting a restraining order out against them – can’t carry the same force in SL, principally because of the ability to create alts. The more I write and think on the topic though the more I come to get a grasp on the state of mind of the stalker – public humiliation for instance doesn’t seem to bother these sorts of people on the whole. They are so insular, so focused on their task, and so convinced they are right, that things like other people’s opinions – even the opinion of the person they are stalking – count for little. There is a sort of perceived righteousness in their behaviour; trying to understand their mentality will be the subject of another post I’ll write.

The last factor I want to look at for now about the prevalence of stalkers in SL, is repeat offenders. The same one person can stalk many different people in their SL lifetime, in what at times I’ve observed as a constant line of victims. As soon as their current target makes it too difficult for them to continue their behaviour, their obsessiveness seems to effortlessly transfer to the next person. This is not true of all stalkers of course – some will obsess over one person for an extremely long time – but that level of unwanted intense attention being directed at someone seems to be an aspect of their personality that doesn’t just “switch off” when they’re finished with Person X. So the actual number of stalkers in itself in SL might not be as high as it looks – there are certainly repeat offenders operating in SL – who knows, maybe your current stalker is one of my old stalkers, what joy!

As I’ve been writing this I keep scribbling down ideas for future posts on stalkers: Understanding the stalker; the typical stalkee; how to stop a stalker, etc. So this will not be my last post on this sadly all too common behaviour.

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