Monday, 9 February 2015

Refugium: peace disrupted and restored

We had an interesting situation at Refugium: Center for Contemplation earlier today. In the minutes after our small meditation group sat down for our shared quiet time, suddenly a number of avatars began to TP in. First-time visitors do show up from time to time, but never in larger numbers at once. Initially, that didn't make me suspicious, as I was doing some advertising for Refugium on social networks the night before. Naively, my first thought was simply that the message came across a wider audience interested in what we were doing.

I quickly did what I usually do when people are running late - I greeted everyone individually in private chat, not to disturb those already present, and I rezzed an extra bench. As they kept coming, I added another one. The avatars' appearance also didn't seem so awkward, as I see all kinds of avatars all the time. Sometimes I am one of those avatars.

However, it soon became apparent they did not come for a meditation session. One of them began rezzing annoying objects, and then others started with obstructive local chat and gestures. Incidentally, we had some first-time visitors who were not part of this group, but in the whole mess, it wasn't easy to track who was part of this gang and who wasn't. I suppose this wasn't an instance of griefing, technically, as they didn't rezz any damaging, self-replicating objects. But some of the avatars were loud, rude and unpleasant, clearly there only to cause commotion.

Normally I wouldn't be very upset - I've had such visitors on my parcels before (now I'm sure they're part of the same group, as they were using some of the same gestures). But for all of us at Refugium, this 30-minute time is dedicated to peace and quiet. We gather from very different time zones to have that shared time together, either before bedtime, or just before going to work. Having these folks invade the space, abuse our hospitality and make a mess there felt like a violation. And the notion of a whole group of avatars ganging up on someone like that felt disappointingly immature.

As I was busy returning objects, and IMing with friends about how best to deal with changing parcel settings and imposing restrictions, I didn't have time for more snapshots. Once certain permissions were revoked, staying there became boring for them and they left. It was a valuable lesson, in that it has made me look closer into certain parcel settings I hadn't used before and wasn't even sure what they were about. I suppose it was partly my fault that after almost a year of owning parcels on mainland, I never limited any of the land permissions. I guess I was lucky not to have similar, or much worse, problems in the past.

In any case, order at Refugium has been restored, things are back to normal and settings have been put in place to prevent such incidents.