Has anyone ever disguised themselves with an alt avatar to interact with you?
If you’ve spent any time in the virtual world, I’m guessing the answer is yes.
When I first joined Second Life the idea of someone pretending to be a separate person to be deceptive seemed a little off, but not unexpected. Hey, I was new to Second Life, not the internet! I was a little freaked out though when I learned that not only could people have alt avatars, they could log them into SL at the same time.
I got a quick education while sitting on a three-seat camping bench in 2007. To my left sat a guy I often hung out with to play games with and to my right a ginger-haired woman. The three of us made small talk while waiting for lindens when after a time my friend laughed and admitted to me in private that he was controlling the woman beside me too.
As a wide-eyed noob my mind was blown. I certainly wasn’t new to people using fake names, so I expected some might create more than one avatar, but up to that point, I hadn’t realized two or more could be online at the same time in Second Life.
For a while after this, I wondered about every new avatar I saw. Were they truly a new person, or the alt of someone I already knew? I got over that eventually and stopped caring, but my perception of SL changed that day.
In my experience, many alts do not have bad intentions, even when they’re deliberately deceptive about their identity. They’re being an alt for personal reasons that usually have nothing to do with anyone else but themselves.
One guy used to come around almost every other day to talk, and each time he arrived he spoke to us with a different avatar while pretending to be a totally new individual.
How’d we know it was him? He had this way of speaking, and no matter how much he tried to disguise it, he just couldn’t stop showing himself. He had no idea how unique he was, and we never let on that we knew it was him. Instead, we looked forward to seeing what new avatar he’d visit us with. He didn’t seem to have bad intentions, so we were nice to him.
Other times alt deception may not start hostile but can become destructive, like the guy who kept claiming his girlfriend died, while (likely) pretending to be her. Read SL Death Faker Story.
Though I don’t believe most alts have bad intentions, some do and disguise themselves to visit people they’re angry at. I had a friend who was literally stalked by a woman, and she’d show up as different avatars. It escalated to real life too, so that he was afraid she was going to turn up on his doorstep or hurt someone.
Most hostile alts don’t go that far, but simply want to “spy” in much the same way people visit social media sites of the people they hate.
One trait I notice about many alts is that they’re not very intelligent. They lack self-awareness, much like the guy who kept showing up as a new avatar. He had no idea we knew it was him, and how easy it was to tell that it was him.
Some alts realize they have certain traits or mannerisms, and go out of their way to behave in a completely different way to compensate for this. One recently came by faking a dialect. We knew it was an alt (not telling how, since I prefer not to give free tips on how to become a more convincing alt), but we knew.
To be clear: I don’t mind if an army of alts come to visit. So long as there’s no griefing or harassment, visiting alts provide us with both traffic and amusement. So come on down!
I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with alts in general. I have them too, such as Rotten Spitteler, a male avatar I use to model clothing or write the occasional funny article. I never use him or any other avatar to deceive though, and I’ve never used one to “spy” either. If I decide to waltz into the lion’s den, I’ll definitely show up as myself.