Understanding the “Little Hitlers” of Second Life

by Pixeleen Mistral on 24/10/11 at 1:50 am

I’ve long wondered at the connection between Second Life’s endless supply of over-the-top drama and the strange psychology of certain players -- particularly those seriously invested in “defending” Linden Lab and “policing” the Second Life grid.

What is it about Second Life that attracts and retains obsessive-compulsive meta-gamerz who can’t keep their play inside the game?

Do large land tier payments to the Lab trump civil discourse even when Lab staff are swept up in an ugly cycle of Twitter/Google bombing payback as we saw with the LabRatuOut mess? After a concerted effort to attract the Lab’s attention to the recent excesses of the Justice League Unlimited, some of my friends in The Pink Hands faction are getting a bit cynical.

elysium hynes untitled 514845
the Pink Hands faction is becoming cynical about Linden Lab

The golden rule seems to be in effect - those spending the virtual gold, rule. Perhaps Rod Humble is just hoping he can finish his new not-SL mobile-device-enabled game before the house of cards falls.

Meanwhile, consider notoriously toxic trolls such as Jumpman Lane, Kalel Venkman’s Justice League Unlimited vigilantes, or Prokofy Neva -- and the level of effort required to spend years tracking and data-mining other players or mounting an endless series of intensive blog, Twitter, and Google bombing campaigns designed to humiliate and destroy enemies.

Forgiveness and redemption seem to be alien concepts for some trolls upstanding Second Life residents, which implies a deep psychological need is being addressed. What exactly is going on?

A recent article in The Economist describing how “quite ordinary people will succumb to bad behaviour if the circumstances are right” may hold some answers.

According to the article, Nathanael Fast of the University of Southern California and colleagues at Northwestern and Stanford universities ran a series of experiments to see if social circumstances around power and status have the potential to create “little Hitlers” who annoy and frustrate others for their own gratification - or are certain individuals predisposed to this sort of behaviour simply gravitating into situations where they can behave badly?

The experiments randomly placed participants into one of 4 groups: high power/high status, low power/low status, low power/high status, and high power/low status. Participants were given the option of forcing other participants to perform humiliating actions -- or not.

Those in the low status/high power group chose significantly more demeaning tasks to impose onto other participants, while those in the other 3 groups did not exhibit this behaviour.

Does this mean that the more extreme guardians of Second Life feel they are in a position of low status in real life and are compensating by harassing and humiliating those within their reach? 

If, as the study suggests, the combination of low status and high power is a recipe for trouble, I am beginning to think the celebrated free social media tools which empower those dedicated to cultivating their Internet notoriety may contain the seeds of their own destruction as the "little Hitlers" of the social media use their online power to trash everyone else.

Do you still want to play Web 2.0 after watching Jumpman Lane’s Twitter assault on Stroker Serpentine, LabRatuOut’s assault on Esbee Linden, or after following Prokofy Neva’s carefully crafted Google bombing attacks on all and sundry? How do you feel after learning that Kalel Venkman is still expanding and unsuccessfully attempting to secure his Brainiac wiki data mine?

Is this the sort of game you want to play?

862 Responses to “Understanding the “Little Hitlers” of Second Life”

  1. Reader

    Apr 17th, 2012

    Spillage, HA HA, you certainly are 24/7.
    No argument there..
    You’re under observation 24/7.
    And the med stream needs to be consistent and timely, administered 24/7 to be fully effective so PLEASE don’t fight Nurse Ratched when given those pills. Open wide wee-man.
    Ha Ha Ha

    That is all

  2. Paul

    Apr 17th, 2012

    When will it close to you think? It is missed its chance to be the wave of the future didn’t it? Facebook kicked its ass. Until then, I bet it just lurches along as long as it makes money.

    Yeah you caught me. It’s hard not to, since all you need to do is poke him and he rattles on and on. It’s no fun trolling the morons who just shriek and scream like, say, Intlibber.

  3. IntLibber Brautigan

    Apr 18th, 2012

    Scream you say? Shriek? Really? Gee, GLE, I dont recall ever doing that. As I recall, Plexus was the one who tended toward the Downs Rages.

  4. Paul

    Apr 18th, 2012

    lmao right on cute. That is right Intlibber, I am GLE and I really know who “Plexus” is and what that means. you caught me!

  5. IntLibber Brautigan

    Apr 19th, 2012

    Seriously, theres very few people pedantic enough who have nothing else in life, and would persist on being a lulzcow on a dead blog in SL, and thats Prokofy, Kalel, and GLE as the three prime candidates. GLE is the most prolific of the commenters in various fora, with Prok a competitive second, but you can distinguish their styles from each other quite easily, with Prok much quicker to use expletives like “fucktard” and engage in conspiracy theory labels like “cryptoleninist” and “technocommunist” and made up labels like “Eddie Haskeling”, its pretty easy to tell when its Prok making a comment, they pretty much write themselves.

  6. Kiddoh

    Apr 19th, 2012

    Gasp! What a twist? :O

  7. Paul

    Apr 23rd, 2012

    Intlibber…I could be a) any of the three, or b) all three, or c) none of the three! Keep trying to figure it out..we can all see the smoke rising over your head as your brain works overtime. I will give you a hint though: The notion that I have to be part of the innner circle j3rk of your collective drama is consistent with a point of view that is parochial to the extreme and indicative of a mind utterly buried to the point of hopelessness in a video game you were kicked out of years ago, so you might at least consider that “c” is a possibility. Show us there is some hope for you after all, Intlibber.

  8. Senban Babii

    Dec 9th, 2013

  9. Paul

    Dec 10th, 2013

    LMAO yeah right a bunch of middle aged wanna be vigilantes in their underwear working for the NSA. Go ahead, give them that kind of credit, if you want.

  10. Dontspill MvGinnis

    Dec 10th, 2013

    Paul has the right of it.

    You’ve seen the transcipts of the JLU’s meetings, can you really envision any one of them being a member of the Intelligence community?

    Far to much ego, far to little intelligence.

    Thanks for the chuckle though Senban :-)

  11. Senban Babii

    Dec 10th, 2013

    Just a little bit of fun Paul…..

  12. Senban Babii

    Dec 12th, 2013

    You’re welcome as always my little bearded fellow, I hope you’re behaving yourself? Did I see you recently on the big screen in The Hobbit? You were brilliant, all swinging your axe around and swishing your beard. I’d know that beard anywhere :D

    I was of course just being my usual amusing self rather than suggesting that Kalel and his band of Super Best Friends were actually secretly working for the NSA. God, can you imagine?


    Hello, Mr Snowden? Yes, you can come home now, it turns out that you actually revealed the details of the JLU’s Brainiac database rather than our Prism thing. We sort of overreacted a bit there eh? Is our face red or what? No hard feelings though eh?


    Hello Mr Assange? Erm yes, listen we’ve got something to tell you. It turns out that you weren’t being extradited to the USA to stand trial on espionage charges after all. Apparently it was actually because someone called the JLU had an AR party on you and we permabanned you without checking. How about that eh? You’re not mad are you?

    Good old Kalollipop and his teen sidekick GreenLantern Extensioncord :D

Leave a Reply