Catfishing Alts Gone Wild: An Analysis of the SL Alt Culture

Tripp Dicarlo, a member of the SL Facebook community recently posted a status that said, “I know some people partnered to Alts, but that’s none of my business

While many may be taken aback by Dicarlo’s comment, many more may ask, “Why would someone create an alt, simply to marry another avatar in SL?”  This is a loaded question, since SL community members create alts for a variety of reasons.  For instance, if the SL community member is a high profile creator, or involved in another high profile occupation, the person may create an alt as a way to promote their products in their SL store.  They may also create an alt as a way to relax and go unrecognized at various sl community venues.

While creating alts for these reasons are great and positive in nature, there are others SL community members out there that rely on alts to manipulate and deceive others in the SL community.  In fact, there is a whole unofficial, alt subculture dedicated to satisfying the narcissistic needs of the person behind the avatar.

This subculture is so intense, that anonymous informant Agent X told The SL Parade, “I told my SL uncle the other day that there are times…when a man (that plays SL) dies in RL, that it is then that you will often see how many women he was married to inworld…because they will all be missing a husband…”

I.  Miss Y Discusses Her Alt Experience

Echoing Agent X’s sentiment, Miss Y, who recently parted ways with her partner of several years, goes into detail about her experience with his alts.  She explains, “I caught my former partner cheating….he created an alt with a whole other life…yep….”

When asked how she found out that her former partner had an alt…complete with another life and significant other…Miss Y says, “He inadvertently left a trail that pointed directly to him.  Plus after being together for a while, you know a person’s patterns. (For example,) I know he doesn’t have a TV in his computer room so the 10 and 15 min gaps in conversation were suspect…”

Miss Y let her SL family know about the breakup and the reason why.  They were understandably shocked because they had always thought of him as an upstanding person.  Some family members reacted with some anger but others expressed that this showed that you really can’t trust anyone in SL.

Miss Y said “…he was there with me every night, but was somewhere elsewhere with another person…all at the same time.”

Shaking her head in exasperation, Miss Y continues: “I just hate when people lie….(if you are that unhappy in a relationship,) just leave…don’t continue to lie once you are confronted…”

 II.  Tatyana Yvette’s Heartache Leads To Trust Issues

Tatyana Yvette, a young woman who currently runs the Urban Flow Poetry Lounge, shares how she was manipulated by an alt.  She states, “One of my ex boyfriend’s pretended to be a female to get in good with me, as well as to find out if I was cheating. He made himself seem like a lesbian female, and was having sex with other girls in SL on the very alt he attempted to manipulate me on…”

“This…” Tatyana Yvette explains, “…went on for five months until one day he made a mistake and didn’t hit his voice changer on mic…”

When asked if her male-boyfriend-turned-female alt was also having sex with men under the guise of being an RL woman behind the avatar, Tatyana Yvette says yes.  She contends, “…he was also having sex with male avatars as well, and no they didn’t (know that the female avi they were with was really a man)…”

Tatyana Yvette, Owner of Urban Flow Poetry Lounge…

Tatyana Yvette explains that one reason why the men involved in her ex’s alt exploits were not aware of who he really was was because many of them did not frequent the urban side of the SL grid.  However, she adds, ” I do know he had sex with a transexual on the Urban side of the grid, but I don’t believe any of the men involved knew that the ‘she’ they were with was actually a ‘he…'”

When asked about how she reacted upon finding out her boyfriend was parading around as a woman, Tatyana Yvette pauses.  She then says, “Wow, a lot of things went through my head…I was upset because he lied, was upset that he would spend all that time to pretend to be something he wasn’t, and I didn’t know if he was straight, gay, or bisexual…I was just confused, I was so confused didn’t even have time to be upset…”

As a result of her negative SL alt experience, Tatyana Yvette says that she now has trust issues.  She explains, “I have to hear people on voice now because I have trust issues when it comes to relationships…”

Tatyana Yvette continues, upon being asked if the person she was involved with is still on the grid, “Yes ‘she’ is on the grid…He plays now only as a female…”

When asked rather she thought that her ex-boyfriend manipulated her solely because he was a closeted homosexual, Tatyana Yvette asserts, “Yes…he is homosexual…I believe that is the case because although we broke up 3 years ago, for the last year and a half, he has only dated men…”

Tatyana Yvette continues, “I think SL is a way for him to live a life he is afraid to show in RL, plus men on here (seem to) only look for a nice avi, and I know he has spent over 50k on his alt, just to make sure his avi is top notch…I know for a fact he still uses the voice changer…and he also has a friend in RL that allows him to use her pics (to entice men)…”

Tatyana contines, as she echoes Missy Y’s sentiment, that if someone intends to manipulate the emotions of others, they should simply stay single.  “…I do wish people would stop using alts as a way to cheat…I wish men would stop using alts to be bisexual, because truthfully there are so many thirsty women out here that would actually let a man be with another man avatar…”

Since having this experience, Tatyana Yvette’s Urban Flow Poetry Lounge venue has successfully raised money for victims of the Flint Water Crisis, and plans to raise money for St. Jude’s as well.

III.   Anonymous Shares Their SL Family-Related Alt Nightmare

*Note:  The writer of this portion of the article agreed to write what happened in her own words.  She also says, “Just a disclaimer for anyone who decides to read my story, this is a catfish within a catfish, so I’ll do my best to make it easy to read! Also I have changed the names of the persons involved” *

I joined SL back in 2010, so I was new and didn’t have any friends. One day, while shopping inworld, I met a girl named Coco. We struck up a conversation, and I told her how cute her avi was.  She thanked me, then added me on her friends list.

Soon after she added me, we started going to parties together and hanging out more. One day, she asked me to be her sister and I said yes. We got very close and even exchanged RL pictures! She was a really pretty girl and I was happy to have her as a baby sister!

After about a month of being sisters she said that she wanted us to have the same dad, so she took me to meet hers to see if it would be a good fit. I met him and it was a perfect match! He was older then me in rl and had kids so I felt like he was going to be like a real father figure to me! This was also cool because not only would I gain a father, but I would gain a whole family because he already had kids! His oldest child and only son was Derrick. Then came Maria, then me, then Coco, and then Jasmine.

The day we met, we spent the whole day talking and I expressed how cute Coco was in RL and showed him the picture she showed me. He busted out laughing and told me that the girl in the picture wasn’t Coco! He also sent me Coco’s real RL picture! I asked him how he knew; he then told me that Maria and Coco were sisters in RL, and that he knew them personally in RL as well, more so because Maria was his real life baby mama! I was incredibly disturbed by that, so I asked him, “How could you adopt her as your child on SL, when you both share a child together in RL?”

…courtesy of http://dreamatico.com/shadow.html

His response:  “I truly birthed Maria on SL…I brought her to this game, helped her create her avi and got her clothes…”

Well, though I thought the situation was weird, I just said okay and went with it.

Soon after, a few years pass by.  We had grown incredibly close…so close that we had even added each other on real life Facebook, and tagged each other as father and daughter. One day, while looking through his pictures, I noticed that there was a picture of his sons, and that he was tagged in it…complete with the caption that said “My kings.” I instantly got excited because I would finally see what Maria looked like! To my surprise, when I clicked on the profile, it was the SAME picture that he showed me of COCO!

At this point I am completely mind fucked that Coco and MARIA were actually the same person, more so because I had been with them both in world and watched them argue with each other in local chat. I had also mediated fights between them, and had even talked shit about one to the other! ??

I instantly blocked Coco from anywhere she could possibly get a hold of me. Afterwards, I confronted my dad about the news I just found, and he confessed the truth to me:  that Maria and Coco were actually the same person. I asked him why he didn’t tell me and he said that it wasn’t his truth to tell. So I respected that and figured we could move on with our relationship.

A few more years pass by and our family had grown so much, my dad was completely obsessed with adopting girls, by this point I had about 8 sisters and was growing incredibly annoyed with him. I used to beg him for more brothers and try to convince him to adopt my twin brother. He always said no, and said that the only son he would ever have was my brother Derrick.  He told me that instead of me wanting more brothers, that I should get to know the brother that I already have.

Well, one day my brother Derrick logged in for the first time in a long time, so I messaged him and asked if he wanted to hang out. He said yes and I TP’d him to my house; we hung out all night and talked. I learned that he was 18, into football, starting college and he had a really laid back personality! I asked him why does our father keep saying he’s the oldest when clearly I’m older then him, and he said, “I don’t know, dad just says I’m the oldest and I need to protect my sisters.”I thought that was weird, but Second Life is all about role play, so if this is the role that they wanted to play, who am I to say they can’t?

So after I hung out with my brother, I talked to my dad again and expressed to him how I hate that he’s adopting so many daughters. I then asked him why he wouldn’t adopt my twin, especially since Derrick never logs on. We got into an argument, and I decided to ignore him. He finally logs off and my uncle then sends me a message saying that he wanted to check on me.  He also let me know that he talked to my dad about it, and that he thinks my dad is being too uptight about it.  My uncle was really cool and was also a really good person to talk to, ESPECIALLY about my dad because they had been brothers for years!

Fast forward another year and I find out that my dad and his current wife have broken up because she caught him cheating on her via his alt account. I didn’t even know my dad had any Alts, so I ask for the name of his alt and low and behold, it’s MY “uncle’s” name. I was SOOO upset, I didn’t know what to think or even say, so I messaged another uncle of mine and he told me that my dad was weird, and that he has Multiple Alts! He started listing them off and revealed that my dad not only plays my uncle, he plays my older brother Derrick, as well as a family friend. I was so hurt and disgusted, I truly felt violated. I dropped him as my father and never spoke to him again!

IV.  Conclusion

Based on the above stories, it is best to follow the advice that Agent X kindly afforded to The SL Parade:  Guard your heart in SL, because there are people inworld who pretend to be something they are not via the use of alts.  In addition to guarding your heart, The SL Parade also suggests to never share any financial information with other SL Community members.  Credit card information, not to mention Second Life account information, can be used in fraudulent ways and can also lead to financial heartache.

If you decide to pursue an RL relationship with an SL community member, never send them money or gifts to their home address unless you have spent a significant amount of RL time getting to know that person.  Also, sharing should never be one-sided; rather, gifting others inworld and even in RL should be equally reciprocated.

Further, if you have alts inworld, The SL Parade also suggest that you use them in ways that will not hurt nor manipulate others.  To use alts in this manner is not only conniving, but can be interpreted as a form of abuse, too.

As Missy Y said, “I remember when you couldn’t play multiple versions of SL easily. Kinda wish for those days again….”  If this kind of abuse continues, Second Life very well may prohibit the creation of multiple alt accounts.

Author: ReRe Sandalwood

Single mom of one child in Real Life. In Second Life, I function as the Editor-In-Chief of The SL Parade, where I regularly write about all things RL and SL. I also own land inworld, and have created a space designed to encourage comfort and relaxation.

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