It Has To Be Said: Second Life (R) Isn’t Addicting

by Jessica Holyoke on 10/03/10 at 11:45 pm

As I have previously stated, I went to grocery bagger school in the Philadelphia area.  (I must be a grocery bagger, I read it on the Internet.)  And one of the funny things about Philadelphia, besides that the best cheese steaks are neither Pat’s nor Geno’s, is that the rest of Pennsylvania is pretty damn rural while Philly is like the sixth borough of New York City.  So when it comes to gun control, its always the people dying in Philly who are exposed to the constant threat of gun violence versus the rest of the commonwealth (look it up) who want to be able to take their guns to their kid’s soccer games. 

So why the hell am I bringing it up here?  Because of what some other SL commentators have mentioned and this article over at Slate, regarding a couple that neglected their baby in favor of the one they had on Prius Online.

Now the baby was born premature and the parents might not have known how to deal with it.  But guess what, the parents were still at fault.  The parents were neglectful of their child.  They deserve whatever punishment comes their way for letting their baby die from not being fed so that they can escape into whatever virtual world that they found.

But of course, there comes the other side, saying video games or the Internets are not addicting.  And there is reasonable argument whether or not the Internet is addicting.  However, things *on* the Internet can be addicting even if *the INTERNET* is not addicting, like oh say naughty gambling or dirty pornography. 

Now here comes the online games, which in many instances can be….*drum roll*…..*extra drum roll*……MORE COWBELL……addicting.   And sometimes that is done by design.  One of my big peeves about World of Warcraft is that it obscures your computer clock and it has no internal game clock.  So you can be playing for hours, getting that rush of leveling or completing quests and suddenly its the next morning. 

Which leads us back to Second Life and the supposedly addicting game that the Lindens made.  After all, nothing is more addicting than sitting in a big grassy field looking moderately attractive while you lag while putting out boxes.  Because essentially, that’s what the Lindens made.   Sure, there are games in SL that involve staying on and leveling, Dark Life comes to mind, but the Lindens didn’t create it.  Is that SL’s fault?

Now there is a voice in my head that is yelling at me; "Of course, SL is addicting you dumb slut, what about all these Goreans and BDSM’er deathstylers you glorify in your obscene writings?  What about the woman who stopped taking her medication because of her evil gorean relationship?   What about articles that you have written dealing with the woman who became morbidly obese and then dying because she didn’t take care of herself in RL and immersed herself in SL?  Which of course I never read because this rag will be destroyed soon enough and never see the longevity of something like the Avastar." 

The thing is SL is like the Internet, and if you are addicted to SL then really you are addicted to some aspect of the Internet and any treatment should be focused on the underlying roots.  Pornography and gambling are obvious…no wait, there can’t be any porn or gambling on SL…nope, not now, not ever.

But that relationship obsession, the need to just be on and explore because nothing else is going on in your life, that isn’t a fault of the platform, its the fault of the person.  And some of those things need to be controlled by the User and not some nanny state, or company. 

Hamlet raised the question of what can we, as residents of SL or other virtual worlds, do for the person.  I didn’t read the results but the thing to consider is that sometimes, you can’t do something for someone when you are separated by space.  Sometimes tragedies happen.  You might notice people spending more time on than they should, but that’s a really subjective statement.  What is "more than they should?" 

I believe that the best thing a resident can do is watch out, offer help and referrals when they can but realize that they might not make their feelings or situation known.

21 Responses to “It Has To Be Said: Second Life (R) Isn’t Addicting”

  1. Sylauxe

    Mar 11th, 2010

    We have a lot in common; I too mentally label you as a dumb slut.

  2. jake

    Mar 11th, 2010


    good article. The level of addiction is related to the level of alienation or whatever in RL. Of course, the addiction then makes it easier to not address your rl issues, which is where I find the claims that “sl is just another reality” arguements problematic.

  3. All Seeing Eye

    Mar 11th, 2010

    The SL of 2005/2006/2007 was pretty addictive. The rl economy wasn’t so bad back then so spending money wasn’t as much of a problem. There was a lot of places with a lot of people 24*7. The usual places I went had more than 50 people all day long. So much to do. Loads of fun. Sure there was griefing going on here and there and other bummers from time to time but everyone still had a great time.

    Then Rosedale quit. Gambling ban. One after another death by a thousand cuts strokes.

    Now we have M and Pink fucking everything up and being assholes about it.

    No. Second Life is not addicting. Not now. Not at all. It is a grid littered with broken dreams, wasted dollars, and ruined lives. The fact we stubbornly remain in spite of LL working diligently to drive us off is not a sign of addiction. Nope. Not at all.

    But SL is not some stupid evercrack game where dipshits mindlessly drone harving and killing bugs for “just a few more points is all I need for the next ding!”

    Nope. SL is not that kind of place. But a few years ago SL sure was addicting. Last night there were only 25 M or A events at 10pm. And out of the ones I looked at most were just bots idling on dance balls. A few years ago there were many many choices.

    So today you can say SL is not addicting. That is a fact. Every once in a while something stimulates that chemical release in my brain from back when SL was addicting. I do so miss that mind-eff stimulation but it is gone forever.

    All that is left is the leaving.

  4. Inniatzo

    Mar 11th, 2010

    It has to be said that you’re trying too hard to toss out these shocking opinion pieces. No, i take that back, you’re not trying at all.

    The question isn’t whether SL is addicting or not, clearly that depends on the person. i’ve certainly gone through periods when i spent way way too much time on sl. does that make sl addictive? maybe, i don’t know, it certainly seemed that way at the time. And if it is that doesn’t mean LL should do anything about it, it’s my problem.

    it’s easy to sit there and make up some absurd examples, but the question as to whether or not something is addictive is not a trivial one.

  5. Chav

    Mar 11th, 2010

    I don’t understand what this article is for.

  6. Prudence

    Mar 11th, 2010

    Second Life is addictive because players think they have control over their game. Just like RL most of SL dynamics are based on power, and the people who are more addicted, generally have very little power RL and no tools to understand how it works. These are the unemployed, 12 hours a day, paragraph role players; the vampire level 60 grandmother; the underage kid who wants to be a warlord but is in self-imposed exile in his parents’ basement in some god-forgotten cornfield; the girl who thinks she is too fat to have a RL boyfriend and she is probably right because the hours spent staring at pixels took their toll on muscle tone; the canteen lady in Ontario who morphs into the perfect mistress… It is easy to become addicted to one’s own fantasy of power and success. But the root of the problem is not SL, it is RL. SL is just the therapy.

  7. Tux Winkler

    Mar 11th, 2010

    Second Life is not addictive per se. But many of associated factors are, for the lonely there is the social aspects. For others there is the creative aspect. Etc etc.

    But does this lead to neglect? Personally no. I can often be found just standing in some random place with my screen full of scripts or a half build in front of me.

    In RL I have a beautiful wife, a whole bunch of demanding children and an adequate worklife. These always come first. On the rare occasions I use voice, they can be heard interrupting me for one thing or another.

    That said, I can see it affecting different people in different ways. If you are on your own, unemployed, and are doing something inworld that you couldn’t do in RL. If you believe that your work is required by others. Then I guess, your level of immersion would be higher than mine. I suppose there is also those who actually place higher priority on their virtual selves, but IMO therapy should be sought in this case.

    (/me wonders the relevance of my wife hunting me across the grid with a shotgun and shooting the hell out of me as I go about my business – XD)

  8. Jessica Holyoke

    Mar 11th, 2010


    I am trying something a little different with the “It Has to Be Said” series. All of the topics I am writing about are things I would have written about before but I’m trying for a different tone and style.

    In this case, and on this topic, I strongly feel that “it has to be said” because so far I have seen three view points on the matter 1. video games, the Internet and virtual worlds aren’t addicting 2. Video games , the Internet and virtual worlds are addicting and to blame and 3. video games, the Internet and virtual worlds are not the half of it with hand held communication devices and other means of disengaging with the people around us.

    My point that I have been trying to add humor to is this; when something tragic happens to a person who might be seen as addicted to or a obsessed with a computer generated fantasy; neglect of a child, failure of a marriage or suicide, then blaming the game or platform will not ever fix the problem. The main fault lies with the person who committed the act.

    But there are addicting elements of SL. Its just that those elements are not in the Lab’s control, nor were they placed there by the Lab’s own design. And the addicting elements of SL are not limited to SL and can be found elsewhere on the Internet or offline.

    What I wanted to do, in my hopefully good humored way, was to get people to not blame the platform, that tragic things done in life are the responsibility of the people who do them, understand that there are risks involved with immersing yourself in a virtual world and that those risks are born by the user, not the holding company.

  9. Johnny

    Mar 11th, 2010

    Why is SL attractive in the first place? One reason is that it allows you to reinvent yourself, to be the “real” you instead of the person encumbered by your job/family/spouse/body/haircut or whatever it is that is preventing you from realising your inner potential. Among other things it allows you to experience feelings of mastery, increases your confidence in social interactions and boosts your self esteem.

    How important this will be to you depends on how much you can get these positive feelings from other sources. For most people SL is just a pleasant addition to their lives, rather than a replacement for it. However for people who, for one reason or another, have lives that are particularly unfulfilling, and/or who struggle with low self-esteem, SL has the potential to become disproportionately significant, to the extent that they will neglect other activities and relationships in favour of it. This can set up a vicious circle of increasing withdrawal from offline life, and dependence on SL for positive interaction.

    To this extent I believe that SL and other MMORPGs can be said to be “addictive”, though I don’t think that “addiction” is actually the best term, since I think these things have more in common with impulse control disorders then chemical addictions, though there are other schools of thought on that.

  10. Sylauxe

    Mar 11th, 2010

    “Why is SL attractive in the first place? One reason is that it allows you to reinvent yourself, to be the “real” you instead of the person encumbered by your job/family/spouse/body/haircut or whatever it is that is preventing you from realising your inner potential. Among other things it allows you to experience feelings of mastery, increases your confidence in social interactions and boosts your self esteem.”

    Pffffffffffffffffhahahahahahahahaahahaahahahaghahahhahahhjajahjahgjjagjahhhahahhhahahahhhhaaaaa ha ha haahaha hahahahahahaahahaahahahaghahah

  11. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Mar 11th, 2010

    Man On Internet Almost Falls Into World Of DIY Mustard Enthusiasts

  12. Miss J

    Mar 11th, 2010

    Have you actually been to Philly and the surrounding cities? Chester, Allentown, Camden all within 30 minutes or less of Philadelphia with crime rates that are on a serious rise. (Camden has been deemed the most dangerous city to live in the US, with Chester coming pretty damn close). You don’t know shit.

  13. Jessica Holyoke

    Mar 11th, 2010

    @Miss J

    Yes, I have been to Allentown, Camden and Philadelphia. Chester I don’t believe I have been to, but not out of avoidance. And yes, they can be all very dangerous places. Just ask the third year Temple law student that shot someone a few weeks back.

    But another place I have been to is London, England. The thing about London, and the UK in general is that there is a handgun ban in the country, even though I am not sure of the specifics. So now they are searching for knives.

    My point above regarding SL is leaning towards a gun rights stance, which is a very contentious issue in the states, if you haven’t noticed. And what I said is factual. The rural everywhere else in Pennsylvania wants continued access to their guns. Philadelphia does not want all of the guns. Will gun control lessen gun deaths? of course it will. Whether gun control will lessen all violent deaths is another issue. Then there is the follow up issue of why do the Swiss have less gun violence but similar access to guns? Its a complicated issue, and something not boiled down to a few humorous points. But I thought it was a good frame of mind for the story, which is the person, or the shooter, is to blame for the act, but the act is easier with the device.

  14. Patasha Marikh

    Mar 12th, 2010

    I agree with All Seeing Eye. 4 years ago SL was addictive. The clubs with their professional quality dj’s pulling in tons of live people. Going out in SL was becoming frightening close to my memories of clubbing in NYC.

    I’m not really sure what killed it. The bot explosion, the expulsion of gambling/banking and the money it was bringing into the world, the departure of Philip and the loss of the “Black Sun” feeling that he brought to SL, maybe it was voice driving away people who suddenly found RL intruding into their fantasy world. Whatever it was, SL is now pretty sad. In 2006 I probably had 20 or 30 overnight sessions when I would log on after work on Friday and log off sometime late Saturday morning and stumble to bed for a few hours before scampering back in the evening so I wouldn’t miss anything. In 2009 and so far in 2010, the longest I’ve spent in world at any given stretch would maybe be 2 hours before getting bored with visiting clubs awash with chat spamming bots. The only club I go to now that reminds me in anyway of my early experience in SL is IOL, but even there, when the DJ finishes their set the place empties out quick.

    No, SL is not addictive, but I wish it was.

  15. IntLibber Brautigan

    Mar 13th, 2010

    Jessica, I agree 100% with you on the guns issue, but you are gonna open a can of worms from the screaming ranters who don’t want to be told the truth. Here in New Hampshire its even easier to get guns, and with a half dozen gun makers in the state, pretty much everybody is armed. Crime rates are lower than Switzerland, even gun crime, if you don’t count the occasional retarded gang banger who crosses the state line from Massachusetts and gets taught a lesson. The only gun free zones around here are Courts, and communities are prohibited by state law from imposing noise ordinances on shooting ranges.

    Meanwhile, the District of Columbia, since the Heller decision overturned the gun ban there earlier last year, has seen a 25% drop in violent crime, the largest one year drop in crime in an urban community in history. Funny how that happened.

    Yet the retard ranters who have screamed at LL to ban everything that made SL great, have taken the same approach to things in SL as (likely they are the same people) people took to using gun control to “fight crime” in prior years. As a result, SL is turning into the same decayed, stagnant, non-fun place as any city suffering from urban blight.

    Second Life is the Detroit of MMOs.

  16. Pappy Enoch

    Mar 13th, 2010

    I are addicted to homemade hooch, fast wimmin, runnin’ from the law-man, and shooting stuff.

    I ain’t hurt myself yet.

  17. Wayfinder

    Mar 13th, 2010

    I agree with Tux above… with a couple of additional thoughts.

    We cannot say “SL is addictive” (compare for example, with “heroine is addictive”… no contest). But at the same time, we cannot ignore its addictive properties.

    First to realize is the concept of addictive personality. There are those who will never be addicted to anything. There are others who can get psychologically addicted to soap operas (psychological addiction is a very real addiction).

    So while we can’t say hands down that SL is “addictive”… we can say it is “potentially” so… especially for those with addictive personalities (personalities prone toward addiction).

    Consider certain aspects of Second Life that are potentially addictive:

    * Highly creative environment. Take an artist and put him/her on SL, and they have a creative palette like never before. Even if they aren’t addictive in nature, the artistic drive can be overwhelming.

    * Socially addictive. As Tux pointed out, that can be a major factor. While SL may be virtual– emotions are very real. Any time emotions become involved in a process, psychological addiction can take place.

    * Anxiety soother. For those who live solitary, depressed or otherwise unhappy lives, the “happier” environment on SL can be very “addictive”… pulling attention away from the needs of RL. For some this is a positive thing (consider the aged shut-in or physically disabled). For others, this can be very negative (those who trade RL for SL.. certainly a sad state of affairs).

    So yes, while SL may not be “addictive” by nature, it certainly can be VERY addictive in reality. The short of it: if someone finds real life needs are suffering because of time spent on SL… the solution might be– as with any addiction– to give SL the boot.

  18. Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia

    Mar 14th, 2010

    I was going to read this article but I just can’t get past the title.

    “Addicting” is a verb. It can be used in sentences like “I am addicting my dog to cocaine by putting it in his doggie bed so he always comes home at night to sleep.” The word “addicting” should not be used without an object or else the sentence is incomplete.

    “Addictive” is an adjective. It can be used to describe nouns like SecondLife in the title of this article.

    I wish I could fix grammar on the internet as easy as I can in real life. In real life all it takes is a sharpie or some spray paint. Online is more difficult.

  19. Wayfinder

    Mar 14th, 2010

    “The whole purpose of language is to be understood.” — Confucius

    The point is more important than the way it is said.

  20. Camden Enderfield

    Mar 16th, 2010

    Just being a pedant, but there *is* in fact an in game clock in the default UI of World of Warcraft, it’s very visible, can be set to either local or server time, and you can even set timers with alarms that flash on screen…

    One wonders where you got your information…

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