"I don't care if you're black, white, purple or green!" I'm sure everyone has heard this in some shape or form in their lives (or SLives) -- but how true is it?
IRL you can't be purple or green, but in SL you can ... but so few are. As a colored avatar with a taste for wacky fashion - I've found that racism in SL is very cut and dry. I won't even bring a RL spin on it because that's a whole post in itself (ie the lack of realistic black skins beyond just being what I would consider a dark 'California' tan) and instead I'll only address what I'm familiar with.
So many folks have said that they dress their avatars in ways they wouldn't dress themselves IRL. I totally understand. Lots of folks say they choose not to be their 'RL' self because that would be boring to them, and I can kinda see that too. But seriously, does dressing your avatar like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's really give you that aire of individuality and excitement you're seeking? Is that really how you wish you could look?
I understand that if you run a business there are certain social stigmas (for lack of a better word) that go along with that responsibility. Somehow it isn't viewed as 'acceptable' to dress yourself as a seven foot tall Moogle who farts colorful stars (if someone makes that av I gotta have one!) if you plan to have any respect when it comes to customer interaction. The fact of the matter is: in SL you are judged on how you look - down to what color your skin is.
People say "I love my friends for who they are!" but nine times out of ten their friends just look like clones of the person who said that. Its completely understandable that you get in where you fit in (haha!) and people will choose who they want to talk to based up on appearance because hey - if they look like you they probably like the same stuff you do, right?
When will things move beyond appearances? When will it not matter if you have the hottest new skin/hair and matter more on the content of potential conversation? In a social MMO platform such as Second Life - I would think that people would be more socially minded and not so .. well .. small minded.
My avatar is purple. Purple hair, dorky t shirts, knee high socks, tennis shoes, and purple skin. I like how she looks. She's interesting, and in my opinion engaging. But there's a problem: no one else does. Okay so it isn't really a problem because I'm really not into the social scene much these days - but I was once upon a time! Even now I find myself roaming about just to see if there's any good conversation to be had. There really is more to SL than shopping and looped dances.
Over the past year I've done a bit of what I'd call an experiment. I found a couple 'normal' skins that I like to accompany the purple skins that I feel are really 'me'. When I wanted to make a 'quick' friend, I'd wear a normal skin and try to make my outfit match before I visited somewhere. People came up to me to talk, even though the conversation was 'petty'. You know "Wow I love your shoes where'd you get em?" or "Oooh that's a really cool shirt, who made it?" That kind of thing. But I always get the opposite reaction when I'm purple.
I can visit the same sim in 'my' kind of dress and not a soul will talk to me. When this happens I take innitiative. I start out with a simple 'Hi' usually ... which generates little to no response. Oooh back away I'm purple! It might be *gulp* contagious!
As I said earlier, I understand the 'business' end of having to look 'normal'. I've been operating a video business in SL for almost three years now (with the help of my husband Keith/Bebop Vox) and though its always seemed to be okay for HIM to look like a cyborg - I get shoddy treatment from clients when I'm in my purple skin. But once I slap on a CS or ND skin - all is right as rain! Its funny, but at the same time very very sad.
Why is it funny? Its funny to me because I know that the individuals who judge in such a way are in no position to do so. Even if you're a multi millionaire - you have no right to judge another person. Another thing that makes it funny is that big DUH factor of it just being an avatar. But it makes me wonder .. if these people have such a small tolerance for a deviation from the 'norm' here in SL .. what are they like IRL? And suddenly that's when it isn't funny anymore. They really are just being racist because I'm not whatever color they are (which ranges from redhead pale to Tom Jones Tan).
Many people have said "Oh don't be silly! There's no racism in SL!" Then I ask "Why are there so few skin makers that cater to anyone of color (ANY COLOR besides white, tan, and Christmas Turkey Skin). Why am I treated differently when I wear a skin made by Starley or Ambyance than when I wear my beloved Wysteria skin by Munchflower if there is no racism? Since there is no racism then every skin maker should have a rainbow of skin colors - or even have an actual black skin.
I've just come to the conclusion that content creation isn't about creativity at all - its about money. Content creators don't make things that make them happy .. they make things that the droning masses will buy. Sally Skinmaker doesn't care what color you WANT to be, she cares about what color you'll buy when you have a limited choice.