And ninthly Was Daniel Sadville a knight with a moral compass wound tight or one of those pagan spiritualists out to make a huckster from anything that moved? That's what the audience wanted to know - just before they pulled out the tomatoes and the jackhammers - Julio Stantore, Large Gland Weeping
My recent "How to help bloggers restore their dignity" seminar proved a smashing success. That was expected.
What proved unexpected, however, was the recovering bloggers' newfound dependency on the video game Second Life. Bloggers have turned to Sadville to fill their moral corruption void and they've done so in some gratifying ways.
Take, for example, one of my campers who we'll call Rafe X.
Rafe spent his first forty years bumbling through life in an ordinary, uncontroversial fashion. He operated a New Jersey tollbooth, played with ribbons and bought Dell computers. Then, at 41, Rafe started a blog, hoping that an online diary would inject flavor into an otherwise dull heart-beating exercise.
After a couple of months documenting underwear changes and interesting pennies that turned up on the job, Rafe realized that blogging wasn't all he had hoped. Blogging Rafe was the same stodgy nitwit as unblogged Rafe. And now five more people scattered around the globe knew this ugly truth.
To really fix his problem, Rafe needed a life-altering experience not a life-masturbating one. So, he turned to Second Life - aka Sadville.
Rafe joined a growing number of people who have concocted traumatic events in Second Life in the hopes of making their real selves more interesting.
In short, he embraced the avatar of a 12-year-old boy and then started banging around the seedy streets of Sadville. Rafe modeled his avatar's supple, young tush to any other avatar - be it man, beast or doorknob - that would have a look. Eventually, the tush did the trick and a drunken uncle avatar molested Rafe in the middle of Sadville's popular Lollipop Grove.
The one molestation turned into another one and then another one. Eventually, Rafe got exactly what he wanted from Second Life - a troubled childhood.
The toll collector has since used this "fake" troubled childhood to explain why his "real" life is so pathetic.
"I was raped by 12 uncles," he confessed to the thousands of attendees at my seminar last month in Bangkok. "That's how I ended up as a lowly toll collector. That's how I ended up having only myself to hold as I fall asleep every night. That's how I ended up relying on the chefs at Swansons to add zest to my life. That's how I ended up blogging."
You might think Rafe the exception rather than the rule, but hundreds of my seminar attendees admitted to faking their own childhood traumas in Second Life just to provide a rationale for their dismal existences.
So we find Sadville emerging as some kind of odd online Prozac for the over-privileged, over-nurtured, over-loved middle-class that missed out on the drug addictions, eating disorders and deaths that added substance to exciting peoples' lives.
And how has Linden Lab - the emergent company behind Sadville - rewarded this behavior? Well, with the cruelest of punishments - timeouts.
On the Second Life police blotter, you'll find one desperate blogger banned for 7 days after displaying "crude and offensive images and animation" in Sandbox Island.
I happened to witness this "indecent event," and it was nothing more than Rafe X being heavily pet by a paint-sniffing tulip named Uncle Rob. Dear heavens, Rafe needs that tulip just to feel human, and now Sadville has taken his pain away. It makes me pig-tossing mad.
(Seven days seems so excessive when other Sadville members who hijack accounts and give away peoples' funds are only banned for 14 days. Is there no justice in Second Life?)
Isn't wonderful that computers have brought us to this point where we can live out the pedophiliac nightmares that we never actually got to experience in a virtual world? When will CNET and Reuters' reporter avatars tell us all we want to know about these sweet tails? ®
Otto Z. Stern is a director at The Institute of Technological Values - a think tank dedicated to a more moral digital age. He has closely monitored the IT industry's intersection with America's role as a world leader for thirty years. You can find Stern locked and loaded, corralling wounded iLemmings, talking, drinking and driving, suppressing Bill Gates U, developing strong Mexican engineers, corrupting his youth in Sadville, masticating beta culture, booing our soccer team, following Jimmy Wales, nursing an opal-plated prostate, spanking open source fly boys, Googling Bro-Magnon Man, wearing a smashing suit, watching Dead Man, dropping a SkyCar on the Googleplex, spitting on Frenchmen, and vomiting in fear with a life-sized cutout of Hilary Rosen at his solar-powered compound somewhere in the Great American Southwest.