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How ugly is too ugly?


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Alternative thread title: At which point should ugliness be considered griefing? I've often meant to start this thread, and I always thought better of it because it's a touchy subject. But I recently saw a photo of an avatar with male pattern baldness, and today I read something about combover hairstyles in SL, so this might be a good time to bring up this question. Not that I consider this to be offensive, mind you. Please let me try to explain where I'm coming from.

I used to think of myself as a very tolerant person, and I have often said that people should be allowed to look however they like and roleplay anything they want in SL. But a few years ago, I realized that my tolerance had limits when a delegation of SA goons on one of their "Second Life safaris" showed up in my sim. They didn't actively grief anybody, they were merely wearing utterly ridiculous and/or disgusting avatars, such as a giant walking heap of feces.

I banned them without a second thought. But when I reflected on my decision later on, I realized that I had basically ejected them for having ugly avatars. They didn't do anything wrong other than having an extremely bad taste, according to my personal subjective taste anyway. I started wondering where I would draw the line (it was a frightening realization that there was such a line at all for me), and I had to ask myself: How ugly is too ugly in a world where nobody needs to be ugly?

There are many things that make me cringe inside. A person in a wheelchair, for example. Or an amputee. I don't want to be insensitive; I think the reason for this reaction is rather that I'm too sensitive. When I see a disabled person, I empathize with them, which causes me to feel kind of sick and unwell. Which is a horrible reaction and also a horrible thing to say, but I doubt that I'm the only one who feels this way. In fact, this reaction is probably so common that most people would be offended if an able-bodied person drove around in a wheelchair just for fun, or sat at a street corner with his legs tucked away under a blanket pretending to be an amputee.  

Please don't get me wrong, I would never ban an avatar in a wheelchair from my nude beach. Or an avatar designed to look like an amputee, for that matter. But the simple fact is that it pains others to look at such an avatar, and that everybody is aware of this common reaction. Another fact is that we are all pretending to be somebody else in this world, since we can't be physically present in SL. We can pretend to be anyone and anything. If we choose an appearance that is bound to disturb others on some level, isn't that a form of griefing? 

Of course I know that many SL residents are trying to portray themselves in SL. If they happen to be obese, balding, disabled, or aged beyond the point that is considered physically attractive by most people, these traits become a part of their self-image, and some residents want to see them reflected in their avatar. I get that, and I also understand the need to be accepted despite having traits that are commonly considered to be unattractive.

But imagine somebody who wears a colostomy bag in RL. This person has a realistic prim ostomy pouch custom-made for himself in SL and wears this attachment at a nude beach. Is that really so different from abovementioned SA goon who posed as giant walking... erm... sorry, I realize that this is a horrible comparison, but my initial reaction would be exactly the same. Or probably even worse. Of course this person's intentions would be different, but then again, I can also imagine a griefer wearing such an attachment. I have to admit that I would ban this hypothetical person, immersionist or not. 

If you think about this for a while, you'll probably realize that lots of things are unpleasant to look at for the majority of people. Such as a greasy combover hairstyle that barely covers a pallid bald head. Or a pot belly. Or hairy shoulders (on human avatars, not furries). I mean, how would you feel if somebody sold a skin with a bad rash? Or prim feet with a thick layer of yellow callous, hairy toes, long, brownish toenails, and a fungal infection? Is that still an accessory for immersionists or already a griefer tool? Discuss.

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

[...]I mean, how would you feel if somebody sold a skin with a bad rash? [...]

I know two different creators that sell exactly that, and a half dozen more that sell worse.... (there's a whole horror market devoted to it)

at the risk of being considered a griefer myself, i've undertaken projects on 3 different occasions to create realistic avatars that are the least socially acceptable as possible, although I've so far avoided the horror, illness, disability and disfigurement angles (I find them a bit insulting).... with the sole purpose of seeing what peoples reactions would be. I ended of with more compliment on the realism and creativity than bad reactions, and gave it up.

that said, I've never tried to be out of place, because (just like your reaction suggests) being both purposely out of place AND making a concerted effort to be disgusting smells like an attempt to get attention, and cause a scene.... it's griefer lite, but it's still childish and annoying.

would I have banned the person you mentioned given the place and the circumstances? without a second thought... would I do the same for your colostomy bag example? probably not, but I would certainly ask to find out what the intent was, and depending on the answer might.

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As one who works in a club, I have seen many avatars enter who are 'made' for the purpose of gaining attention.  If, at first, the level of attention is mild, they will bang into others on the dance floor, spam gestures, comment (usually negatively) on others, or worse.  This is griefing and they get the result they seek, eject and ban.

I have a sim neighbor whose avatar is a crippled boy.  His alt is another boy who suffered an eye injury and is blind in that eye.  His profile clearly states that he is someone in RL who 'sees' himself as 'challenged' but who, in fact, is not.  So, he plays out this scenario in SL.  While I cannot relate to this, I understand.  If he travels about SL, he is not griefing.

There is a line in my mind between griefing avatars and non-griefing (speaking only in the physical sense).  Yes, we all should be able to express ourselves any way we see fit as long as it does not impinge on the enjoyment of SL for others. (And, I realize that is a subjective statement)

Recently, an elderly couple entered the club.  They danced for awhile and spoke in local about their aches and pains, their relations who never phoned them, and having to eat cat food.  It was amusing, not griefing, but in hindsight they were also expressing the plight of many elders.

I guess what it comes down to is that we each have a 'line' and it may reflect our RL experience or it may be a bit looser in SL.  It is not a bad thing.  It is human nature.

 

ETA:  A recent example of griefing in only the physical sense was when an avatar that looked like a giant penis came into the club and took up 1/3 of the space on the dance floor.  That was considered griefing.

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One of the best times I ever had in SL was a St Patty's day party at a nude beach filled with gorgeous guys.  One of these gorgeous guys was in a wheelchair and after having the pleasure of chatting with him, I understood that he was in a wheelchair in RL and wanted to use one in SL in an attempt to educate people about being disabled.  Perhaps this hypothetical colostomy bag wearing avatar would be wearing one for the same reason.

The discomfort you feel about seeing a handicap person is not uncommon I suppose.  Sometimes just being around someone "different" can be uncomfortable in some ways.  Then it could also be that they might remind you of how fragile the human body really is and how you yourself could easily be in the same situation if you were a little less fortunate. 

Of course, there are some people that just want to look ridiculous in SL.  I've seen all kinds of hideous avatars in my time in SL and can usually tell when someone's doing it on purpose.  I usually just think either that person is crazy (which is perfectly okay with me) or very creative (which is even better)... sometimes the two go hand in hand.

Certainly, you can ban anyone from your sim that you please, but I don't see how an avatar's appearance alone can be considered a griefing tool.  It could be considered tasteless and even offensive, possibly in violation of TOS depending, but I wouldn't consider it griefing unless it was something directly aimed at you personally (can't think of any good way to illustrate what I mean by that, but I hope you catch me drift).

...Dres

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:

I wouldn't consider it griefing unless it was something directly aimed at you personally 

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 IMO that is when you can speak about griefing, or when you asked polite to not appear on your land like that anymore and he/she still does next time. Everything else is about tolerance and personal taste. Personally I don't care how someone looks, I either find it hilarious, silly or just plain ugly. Even if it was a zombie in a wheelchair with maggots crawling all over, wearing a colostomy bag that he prefers to consume as if it was a milkshake! (I hope I am not griefing now!)

Then it just depends on my mood if  I will bother to know more or just ignore and go on doing my stuff.

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Dresden Ceriano wrote:

Of course, there are some people that just want to look ridiculous in SL.  I've seen all kinds of hideous avatars in my time in SL and can usually tell when someone's doing it on purpose.


this are the ones I 'MUTE' ...... :matte-motes-silly: *meows*

PS. or ban ....

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Doesn't this boil down to intent, Ishy? Not that intent is obvious, but my radar would probably work as well (or as poorly) on an avatar's looks as on the avatar's dialog. Sometimes the intent is fairly obvious, as in "your walking pile of" example. It can be much more difficult in your examples of amputation or ostomy. These things happen to people in RL and they may indeed push the envelope a little to gain acceptance. You might have to be a little more patient in teasing out intent in such cases.

One can be ugly visually, audibly, textually or behaviorally. If I believe that's driven by an ugly ideology, I walk away.

That said, we're all going to make mistakes in reading intent. And even when the intent is noble, we can't all be expected to enjoy it.

I have vitiligo in RL and I have considered making a blotchy skin that's reminiscent of me before applying makeup.

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Void Singer wrote in part:

at the risk of being considered a griefer myself, i've undertaken projects on 3 different occasions to create realistic avatars that are the least socially acceptable as possible, although I've so far avoided the horror, illness, disability and disfigurement angles (I find them a bit insulting).... with the sole purpose of seeing what peoples reactions would be. I ended of with more compliment on the realism and creativity than bad reactions, and gave it up.

Yes, SL is a great place for social experiments :) In a way, I'm doing the same by wearing a transsexual avatar (which is something that will undoubtedly offend a few people too). And I use to wear all kinds of unattractive (but not offensive) avatars when I'm working, in order to avoid distractions. Things like giant spiders, lizards and the like. I guess some people would find those offensive as well.

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Venus Petrov wrote in part:

There is a line in my mind between griefing avatars and non-griefing (speaking only in the physical sense).  Yes, we all should be able to express ourselves any way we see fit as long as it does not impinge on the enjoyment of SL for others. (And, I realize that is a subjective statement)

I agree that this line is easy to see in most social establishments. But at a place like a nude beach, I usually expect a certain amount of physical beauty, and it's really hard to tell if ugly people are serious about their appearance or if they are merely looking for an argument.

I've considered putting up a signpost with several photos in my sim, with the caption "you must be at least this attractive to use the beach" next to one of the images at the lower end, but then I thought better of it :) Except for the SA delegation back in the day, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

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Dresden Ceriano wrote in part:

The discomfort you feel about seeing a handicap person is not uncommon I suppose.  Sometimes just being around someone "different" can be uncomfortable in some ways.  Then it could also be that they might remind you of how fragile the human body really is and how you yourself could easily be in the same situation if you were a little less fortunate. 

That's a good point. I think it really is the realization of my own vulnerability (and ultimately my mortality) that disturbs me. I don't think that differentness per se has ever put me off (at least that's what I'd like to think).

One of the regulars at my beach is an extremely small person. He is clearly no child avatar though. He looks almost exactly like the guy who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, which happens to be my favorite character in this series. When I see him around (my patron, not Tyrion L.), I don't perceive him as being out of place. He only adds to the rich variety of the SL population.

 


Certainly, you can ban anyone from your sim that you please, but I don't see how an avatar's appearance
alone
can be considered a griefing tool.  It could be considered tasteless and even offensive, possibly in violation of TOS depending, but I wouldn't consider it griefing unless it was something directly aimed at you personally (can't think of any good way to illustrate what I mean by that, but I hope you catch me drift).

I think what prompted me to swing the banhammer in case of the SA / W-hat group was that they were horribly out of place. Not that I have a dress code, but people just don't expect to run into a giant walking turd at a nude beach. Or into a Hamburglar avatar, or an anthropomorphic duck in a Nazi uniform (I guess it was also the fact that they arrived as a group). In cases like that, I probably owe it to my patrons to eject the inappropriately dressed avatars, even if they don't actively grief anybody. It looked like that was soon to follow.

 

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Madelaine McMasters wrote in part:

I have vitiligo in RL and I have considered making a blotchy skin that's reminiscent of me before applying makeup.

That is something that wouldn't bother me. In my opinion, there can never be enough skin colors and -patterns :) That's why I'm wearing a pink skin in SL. I've thought about adding blue leopard spots or purple zebra stripes. That would essentially be the same as vitiligo, i.e. a skin pigmentation pattern.

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I think going too far is if it's too bloody like part of a head blown off or guts hanging out. 

The walking pile of doo is going a bit too far, also. 

When an annoying avatar enters the screen, all I can do is move my avatar and change my screen location. 

What is also annoying about some of these outrageous avatars is that they like to push people.  It's the pushing that usually gets them ejected. 

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Three separate points touched in your OP I think.

 

The feces avie. Well, with very few exceptions I think it’s fair to say that universally the sight of such stuff doesn’t provoke feelings of delight. Unless you’ve been bunged up for a few days in which case the reaction on unbunging will be one of immense relief. Otherwise, it’s possible – more than possible – that such an avie is meant to provoke a reaction. Perhaps childishly comic rather than pure horror though. I can’t honestly say that if I passed such an avatar it would raise much more than a weak smile in me though.

Avatars with disabilities and signs of disease, illness, conditions. Erm…well, I’m perplexed by you linking such things to the afore-mentioned category at all. Why would it perturb if a person wants to portray themselves as they really are in RL? What if it just means they accept themselves as they are, colostomy bag included? I’m not at all sure that people with disabilities even want empathy and sympathy. I reckon most want to be accepted as they are and perhaps importing the extra, the missing, the non-functioning or the differently-functioning bits into SL is just a way of making sure everyone knows they are totally accepting of those “bits” and would really prefer if everyone else did the same. As for able-bodied people trying out life in a wheelchair – why not? Carole is my only Caucasian avatar – all my others have an ethnic origin different from my RL one. I found that “being black”, for example, was initially “educational” (there are still racists around) and in a second phase…how to put it?…just “me” – the skin colour was such a minor part of my avie representing me that I forgot all about it. I’d have thought just such experiences – living in another’s reality – represents one of the most valuable experiences SL has to offer. No?

Ugliness in general. Well, as one who has perhaps the ugliest avie in the forums, I think I may be qualified to respond. Carole, as she is, has different meanings and functions. First of all, I think she’s a blast. It’s a fun avie to have – it gets conversations started and it ensures that usually the people who approach her have a sense of humour and are beyond looking for a hawt babe avie to jump on a poseball with. I have met some great people thanks to Carole. Second of all, as a feminist and a more generic humanist, she represents my stance that people, whatever they look like, however old or ugly they are, are valuable human beings. Thirdly, I’ve never had issues with what I look like in RL so having one avie which isn’t a hawt babe doesn’t create dents in my self-esteem. Lastly, I think people (adults) should be able to do and be pretty much what they want in SL. Personally, I adhere to the general philosophy of the place – be what you want to be (sexual age-players excepted) - which means though I might find some avatars objectionable, silly, offensive, banal, boring or whatever, I understand that others shouldn’t have to model their digital selves to my standards. These standards are highly subjective. I could be really snooty and say that so many of the Barbie avies which many would consider attractive look icky to me. I could point out that I find the long-haired, uber-muscular urban warrior types singularly unattractive. But does it matter what I like and dislike? It shouldn’t. Sure, you have private property. You can chase those who don’t appeal to your vision of what’s SLovely away. But why??? SL, avatars aside, is as full of “ugliness” as RL – from hellish malls to tacky products, from pseudo-art to garish gardens. Would it not be fair to say that the vast majority of avatars will offend somebody's aesthetic sense, for some reason or another? That makes 95% of all SL residents griefers according to your view-point.

Anyway, your point is noted and in future I’ll stay away from your shop, lest I offend your eyes with my fat, old avatar.

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Well, I was called beautiful and pretty all my life by all kinds of people in all age groups, friend or stranger alike.  Sometimes I thought I did look pretty or beautiful, but for the most part I always a bit surprised to constantly be called pretty or beautiful.  I guess I never saw in myself what other's saw.   And I also kept asking myself "why do people say that" as I had nothing to do with the way I was born.  Pretty or beautiful is not an accomplishment, it's just how one is born.  However, in a painted art medium, it is an accomplishment imo to make an attractive well balanced looking avatar no matter what "style" they are going for.  Some of the avatars I've seen are absolute works of art and I think "well done!"  

However, as far as my being called pretty all my life, I'm not hardly anywhere as attractive as some movie stars.  I do not have movie star or Las Vegas showgirl gorgeous bod looks and never had that ideal of beauty nor have I had any plastic surgery like a movie stars do today, but if someone wants to look like a Victoria's Secret model in SL, it doesn't bother me. 

The current Hollywood beautiful is achieved by plastic surgery and I prefer a more natural looking actress rather than one with a pinched teeny tiny nose or lips blown up like balloons. 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder comes into play for me with good looking avatars, but on the other end of the spectrum the pile of doo is just way over the top, imo.    

 

 

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i just have to say..plastic surgery people  look gross more than improved..

i mean the ones that you can tell..they start looking freakish a lot sooner than age would have damaged them..all pulled up tight trying to stop those wrinkles..

there was a funny clip from an adam sandler movie "Just go with it" ..where a guy was addicted to plastic surgery..

everytime he drank it spilled out onto his shirt and he didn't even notice it  LOL

 

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For me it's the person's reason for having a "shocking" avatar that matters. Are you an overweight elderly man because that's the role you want to play? Or are you just there to stir the pot and creep people out?

I get a lot of questions from sim owners and visitors alike about my breasts, certainly some people find them shocking, but I think most of them see pretty quickly that I'm not there to cause trouble and I'm dressed rather conservatively, so they leave me be. Your "pile of feces" avatar was no doubt there just looking for reactions, and banning him was probably the best course of action.

 

 

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Daniel S. Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, Austin and author of a new book "Beauty Pays" wrote in an op-ed piece in yesterdays New York Times that "Ugly People" are subject to discrimination based on their looks.

Dr Hamermesh advocates ugly people being covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act due to the disadvantages they face, both financially and socially, and society must be made to be less judgmental about a persons looks.

Upon consideration of the article I was left with two conclusions.    First, soon we will see the formation of the "Ugly Lobby"   And second, lawyers will latch on to this, and a new group of lawyers specializing in "Ugly Discrimination" cases will flood our over burdened court with this sort of case.

Ironically, the news was also covering the arrest of  reputed actress Daryl Hannah in front of the White House yesterday, whom I've always thought looks like Abe Lincoln with blond hair.    Just thought I'd take the opportunity to throw that in before it's against the law.

 

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Elle Benusconi wrote:

Upon consideration of the article I was left with two conclusions.    First, soon we will see the formation of the "Ugly Lobby"   And second, lawyers will latch on to this, and a new group of lawyers specializing in "Ugly Discrimination" cases will flood our over burdened court with this sort of case.

Seems, in order for that to happen, a person would have to be legally declared "ugly"... can you imagine?... lol.

...Dres

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You read it here first, folks. Join the Eloi or be banished to the undergrid.

 

"Oooh dahling, you're absolutely gorgeous!"

Mwah.... mwah... <epic air-kissing frenzy>

"I am, as ever, ravishing to the bone."

<snurk>

"Oh, what is it I see? A mole on that frightful chappies' face?"

EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE....

 

To be continued in the next episode of Dr. Who and the Genocidal Luvvies of Titan.

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For me it doesn't have to be an extremely intelligent conversation, as intelligence and knowledge are two separate things.  Some times people are judged as unintelligent simply because they are not knowledgeable in a particular area, or because they are just learning English and/or perhaps even just learning how to type. 

I do like a person who is friendly, funny and kind to talk too whether they are learning English or not.  If they are nice and fun and kind, perfect typing or language skills don't mean that much to me as I had a job where I had to work with foreigners a lot, so I'm more used to it than some. 

@ Ishy, it's interesting that my rl bf said I would get hit on more if I were a plainer, more average looking avatar, as his point was that most men are too shy to talk to a beautiful women as they fear they will get rejected.  I do notice that average looking female avatars do get a lot more attention than mine does, which my rl bf thinks is a pretty avatar.  After my rl bf told me that, it actually makes me more comfortable to go for the ultra beauty or super knockout look because I'm not looking to hook up with anyone in SL.  So, in that sense, if I were a plainer more average avatar and I got hit on all the time, I wouldn't like it, as I don't need that because I am already taken and not available for more than friendship and fun on SL, anyways.  It's an interesting thought that came from my rl bf though.  It really made me think as I don't want a lot of attention on SL, so this may work for me just great as it will keep the attention away that I don't need.   lolz  However, even avatar beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I thought my rl bf's point was spot on because I do notice the average looking avatars get all the attention, probably because they don't like look they are trying to hard or they look more real and down to earth.  It's that judging a book by the cover thing.  

Regarding "odd" avatars like dancing cacti for example, I think a lot of people do that NOT for attention but because they don't want to get IM'd all the time as they are probably married in RL and don't want to be bothered with IM attention, etc.  So, they become a cactus or something else.  It would be an interesting experiment if you Ishy became an ultra good looking male avatar, and I bet you'd find a lot of female avatars too shy to contact that super good looking male avatar and you'd have less fun being beautiful on SL.  There is prejudice against beautiful avatars on SL I've noticed, too.  I must admit I'm a little shy to IM the ultra good looking male avatars on SL.  I just don't feel confident enough to do so.  It's an interesting point my rl bf made because I do notice it in myself and my shyness when I encounter a gorgeous, stunning and rich looking male avatar, I start to feel less confident to contact that avatar. 

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

If we choose an appearance that is bound to disturb others on some level, isn't that a form of griefing? 

But imagine somebody who wears a colostomy bag in RL. This person has a realistic prim ostomy pouch custom-made for himself in SL and wears this attachment at a nude beach.
Is that really so different from abovementioned SA goon who posed as giant walking...

 

. Or probably even worse. Of course this person's intentions would be different, but then again, I can also imagine a griefer wearing such an attachment.

 

I have to admit that I would ban this hypothetical person, immersionist or not. 

 

In terms of being a griefer, absolutely it's different. 

Griefing is all about intent.  Doing something that is bound to upset someone is not griefing in itself.  Simply calling yourself a christian, atheist, buddist, or muslim or "..." is bound to upset someone in any sizeable and international audience, but it's not griefing.

Is the avatar with the colostomy bag different in terms of whether or not this goes beyond what you personally choose to discomfort yourself to tolerate?  Apparently not and that's ok.  Choosing to exclude some things that discomfort you from your own sim is not necessarily intolerant.    Just as people have a right to wear what they want within the TOS land owners have a right to exclude things that make them feel icky. 

It's generally people who automatically assume someone must be to blame every time their ick-response is triggered and that it definately is not them, who are intolerant.

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I always find it quite novel when i see an elderly looking avatar in second life.

 

Reminds me of the game "bioshock" where the residents of the perfect city could choose whatever looks they pleased. There was a big piece of graffiti that read "Beauty is a moral imperative". Perhaps we are like this in second life, where not choosing to be perfect is considered "sinful".

slothtribute.jpg

I think we all loved sloth from the goonies. I looked on marketplace for an avatar for him, but didnt find one.

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Mayalily wrote:

For me it doesn't have to be an extremely intelligent conversation, as intelligence and knowledge are two separate things.  Some times people are judged as unintelligent simply because they are not knowledgeable in a particular area, or because they are just learning English and/or perhaps even just learning how to type. 

Frankly I have to say that I prefer conversations with intelligent people (wih whom you can discuss all manner of topics as the process of their brain working is delightful to observe) rather than a person who is knowledgeable about a limited number of subjects. I would not enjoy a conversation with a nuclear physicist nor a plumber about their field of knowledge as neither interest me (nor could be understood by me).

 


Mayalily wrote:

There is prejudice against beautiful avatars on SL I've noticed, too. 

 

Seriously? I've heard claims that there are prejudices against short avies, tall avies, child avies, furries, vampires, subs, doms, nekos, etc., and this thread is about "prejudices" against the ugly ones....so tell me - if the pretty ones are also victims of prejudice, exactly what avatars are not subjected to discrimination, because, at this point, no other type comes to mind? Don't you think that it's truer to say that some people prefer certain avatars over others? In which case, we're discussing personal preferences and not instances of discrimination. "Prejudice" is a serious matter - I think we'd need to talk to a victim of RL racial (for example) discrimination to hear exactly what that entails and if it compares to these SL "cases".

 

 

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