Shock announcement at SLCC from Philip Rosedale about the merging of the grids. It seems the main grid and the teen grid are going to be gradually merged, with the 16-18 years olds joining the adults first.
There is much furious debating going on around the SL message boards, as though this is a shock horror change that is going to make a huge difference to people in SL.
As I have pointed out in a couple of posts myself, there are already substantial numbers of underage residents and explorers in SL. Anyone who thinks it is possible to know through any sort of verification system whether someone in SL is 14 or 84 is deluded. All it takes if for person A to set up an account, and to either abandon the account and leave it where others can find it (with remember me ticked, so they don't even have to guess the password) and even the best and most efficient age verification is defeated.
In any case, it has always seemed barmy to me that teens can have real sex at 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18, depending upon jurisdiction, and get married at around 16 and have their own babies, but they can't see pixel sex or participate? That just seems crazy, as though online sex can somehow be more damaging than the real life stuff.
If you are going to indulge in cyber-sex, you had better have a real relationship with the person you are involved with, or else you cannot know if they are maybe 14 or 74 or the opposite sex to the one they portray in SL. If you are indulging in casual genital shouting sex (ah, I'm too tired to explain) then probably you don't care who the partner is.
It's all part of reconciling yourself to the psychological challenges of cyberspace. I have had fascinating discussions with fellow residents who think that we only fool ourselves when we think it is possible to know more about the people we see in real life than we do about the people we meet online. To a certain extent I agree with that - but it isn't so easy for a 56 year old pedophile to pretend to be a 15 year old boy in real life, as it is online. Conversely it isn't so easy for a 15 year old to get away with pretending to be over 18, in real life.
I don't know what LL hope to see as the outcome of this merging. Maybe it has long been in mind and that was the reason for the setting up of Zindra. Maybe it is a cost-cutting measure that allows them to spread their thin band of Lindens a little thicker. I guess that the educational industry might be very enthusiastic for this change, because the rules about ages for the main grid and the teen grid are a problem for them. If you are running courses for people ranging between 16-19, under he previous rules it was necessary to have the under 18s in the teen grid and the over 18s in the main grid. This change allows everyone to be in the same place.
I don't know how the community in general will react to the change, or how the new teens will be on the main grid, but I don't expect there to be a substantial difference.
As in every environment virtual or real, most people will behave reasonably, without having dire consequences drilled into them or inflicted upon them. A few will break the rules and behave unreasonably, no matter what punishments they are threatened with. Those people are likely to be in the main grid already.
It makes me want to start doing SL basics classes again. I miss them, although how in hell you publicise something like that nowadays so that it isn't one man and his dog in the audience, I have no clue.