Sunday, May 10, 2015

No Witty Title

First off, these photos are by request. Sorry it took so long, Robin! :-)

This is going to be a difficult post for me to write, and will most certainly be one of those that is just all over the place because I have about a million thoughts to get out of my head!
I hesitated writing this post, due to what I'm going to have to reveal to get my thoughts out there. There was an incident that happened to me this week... one that made me take this blog offline for a few hours, and threw me completely off balance.

My first instinct, once I stopped panicking, was to write a post about it, because that's what I do. My second instinct was to not write about it at all, and that's nearly the instinct that won out.

But you know what? If I'd kept quiet, I wouldn't be being true to myself.
And above all else, I try very hard to be true to who I am. This blog would be meaningless if I censored myself. I won't have that. I won't have fear forcing me to be less than who I am.
I'm sure you're wondering by now what happened to make me freak out.

Someone took information they'd gathered about me and found out my real identity.
As I'm writing this, I'm still unsure just how deeply I want to go into how this has affected me. I really want to get into a larger discussion that looks into what I think of as a responsibility we have to each other as we navigate our second lives, but I'm not sure how to do that without opening myself up even more because this is a topic that now, for me, hits so damn close to home.
We are all in Second Life for our own reasons. Each reason as unique as the person behind the avatar. And that's the first, and most important lesson- we are all people behind these avatars. There is a real, living, breathing human being behind a keyboard for every (non-bot) avatar we encounter.

And we're living in dangerous times. The internet is still, in the grand scheme of things, still in its infancy. And those of us who spend a great deal of time online are navigating unknown waters. While most of us are genuinely decent people, there are those who are not.

Let me say that the person who tracked me down is a decent person, I think. I don't believe she had nefarious intentions. I do think she has some boundary-related issues and didn't fully take into account the depth of... wrongness... in what she did.
I'm going to take a lot of the blame squarely on my own shoulders. It's solely up to me to control how much, or how little, personal information I share with anyone in Second Life.

Just like anyone who takes a nude photo and posts it anywhere online, or emails it to a lover, or stores it in the cloud. The initial action that leads to violation is taken by ourselves. A girl gets drunk and gets raped at a party. A man leaves his iPhone on the corner of a table in a restaurant while he turns to look out the window.

Every crime could feasibly be prevented by people being more diligent with their behaviors, actions, dress, whatever... Hell, in order to be completely safe, we should never leave our houses. No, that's not true. Shit could still happen.
And therein lies the crux of the issue. Don't fucking blame the victim because someone else chooses to exploit a weakness or vulnerability. 

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. For fuck's sake, we're talking about basic human decency here. It absolutely doesn't fucking matter what a person does, how open they leave themselves... if you take advantage of that, YOU are the piece of shit. The victim is just that- the victim. 
And that brings me back around to how this relates to Second Life. As we're interacting, and sharing, and living together in this virtual world, we let things slip. We reveal parts of ourselves. Sometimes it's on purpose and sometimes it's a slip of the tongue. It happens.

Each of us has a choice to make when that happens. To take advantage, or not.
What would Second Life be if we didn't protect each other? If we didn't respect that anonymity we all need in order to make this virtual world be what we're each seeking?

Would you still be here if you lived in fear every moment of someone exploiting you, exposing you?
In order to make this work, this place work, we each have a responsibility to respect each other. To not take advantage of the weaknesses we potentially reveal every time we open our mouths. We owe that to each other- again, it's basic human decency.

Respect each other. As we each expect, and wish, for others to respect us.

Just because you spot an opening... a weakness, a piece of information that probably shouldn't have been shared, but was, doesn't make it right for you to take that and violate that person.
And I do feel violated. I'm horrified by what happened to me.

Did I leave myself open to it? Yes, I did. But was I asking for it? No. No, I clearly was not. And there is no possible way you can twist that to make it my fault that someone else took my slip, in a moment of grief for my brother, and used it to find my real life information.
Again, I honestly don't believe this person had ill intent. Of course, it's pretty well known that I'm a bit of a Pollyanna and I could be wrong about that. And THAT is what terrifies me. What she did was couched in... I don't know. Teaching me a lesson? Giving me a warning? It was sort of presented to me in a "hey, I found you and if I did, others could, too" excuse. She claimed to have done it out of "respect" for me and proceeded to point out every step along the way where I'd tripped up and revealed too much. 
And honestly, her intent matters not one whit to me. I don't care why she did it, only that she did. It was wrong to do, and it crossed so many lines... so many lines.
This person feels that I have a tendency to trash people on this blog, and as such, I certainly must have a myriad number of enemies that would love nothing more than to destroy me.

I simply don't believe that's true. First off, I don't feel that I trash people. I talk about situations that happen in my life, both virtual and real. I rarely mention names. I'm not mentioning her name, nor am I casting aspersions on her character. I won't tell you if I even know her, where I know her from, or what I personally think of her. I'm talking about what happened to me and how it has affected me.
I have before named businesses, and their owners (Hi Tricky!). As a consumer, I believe I have a right to discuss products and customer service issues, good or bad, that I've had. I don't see myself as any sort of critic- I'm simply a person who spends lindens on a lot of stuff. Lindens cost real world money. I won't apologize or back down for talking about things I like or don't like when it comes to things I purchase.
As for people... holy shit, have you guys ever taken a look at SLSecrets? In particular, the comments? My meanderings regarding situations I encounter are nothing.

Or are they? See, this whole thing has me questioning myself and what I do.
I truly don't feel like I'm especially mean here on my blog. Oh, I've gone ballistic once or twice and lost my shit. I'm not immune to losing my temper. I've posted some truly ugly things a couple of times... and I've deleted a few posts, too, once I take a breath and get myself back under control.
I spoke to Hugh about this. I trust him implicitly and one of the many million reasons that I love him so is because he doesn't compromise or pull any punches when it comes to me. If I ask his opinion, he gives it. And, yeah, there are times when I don't like his opinion, but I respect that he's being truthful to me.

So I asked him if I had a tendency to get ugly on this blog and he assured me that in his opinion, I don't. And let me know in no uncertain terms that if I did, he would be the first one to tell me I'd gone too far.
Anyway, I'm losing my point here. I said this was going to be all over the place, didn't I?

What I'm trying to say is that we owe each other something here. We have a choice whether or not to take advantage of people. And no matter what the situation, the right thing to do, always, is to NOT do that. Not take advantage.

Doing the right thing is easy. Respecting each other is easy.
We owe it to each other, people. Please.

I'm still stinging pretty hard over what happened to me. I'm terrified. I have family. I have a job. I have responsibilities. I have a full, complete life outside of Second Life and these two worlds simply cannot intersect. For a million reasons... but the only one that should matter is that it's because I don't want them to.

And that should be respected. I won't do it to you. Please don't do it to me.
The abject fear that struck me when I found out what had happened- god, I don't wish that sort of fear on anyone. It made me physically ill. It almost destroyed my Second Life, this blog. My instinct was to delete Beth Macbain and hide away. It was absolutely terrifying. I can't stress that enough. It was a gut-wrenching fear that I've only experienced a few other times in my life.

It wasn't a small thing. This was a very, very big deal to me. I freaked the fuck out, am still freaking out a bit. The intentions don't matter... what matters is that it was done. Simply that someone exploited my weakness and vulnerability during my grief over losing my brother. It was devastation piled on top of the devastation I was already feeling.

The choice was stolen from me. I had no say in how much someone knew about me, nor what they would do- could still do- with that information. I can't take it back, she can't take it back. That will never change now. Someone has my information, someone I didn't choose to give it to. And I have zero control over what they do with it.

That is terrifying. Please don't do that to anyone. Just don't.

3 comments:

  1. I'm really sorry that happened to you. There are no excuses. No matter how you look at it, what that girl did was plain wrong. Period.

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  2. I am usually an open book.. And often put up a "first life" photo.. I had someone take that photo and so a photo search on the net and found my LinkedIn... Copies my full name to me and the link to it! Freaked me out at first but then I had no choice but to trust this person had good intentions as he told me I have to be careful.. My only other option was to freak out.. But I knew that was not gonna get me anywhere .. Lesson learned! And I just moved on ... I don't use Kate anymore and use Aimee now (ifyouseekaimee Swansen) but will never forget that initial feeling and I am glad you didn't run away

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  3. Hi....I think this happens more then we imagine.it happened to me with a ex lover tracing my ip...same excuse ...."just so you know I did it for your protection." Right! It is a cyber crime to exploit you and also a veiled threat. Never assume it was done for the right reason. Cause it is not.No one asked to be traced etc to see if it is possible.Also you do not have to be traced to be told it is possible.If you have any problems out of this..contact the Cyber angels.They have helped me a great deal ......Good Luck to you :)

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