My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World

Julian Dibbell

The true story of a journey into an on-line community, LambdaMOO, a virtual Eden, where race, gender and identity were infinitely malleable and whose visitors thought they had escaped from all usual cultural limits. Until a brutal rape and ideological warfare between high and low castes brought the virtual and real worlds into seismic collision.

“LambdaMOO is a new kind of society, where thousands of people voluntarily come together from all over the world. What these people say or do may not always be to your liking; as when visiting any international city, it is wise to be careful who you associate with and what you say…” – LambdaMOO log-on screen

The rape is just the start. What is frightening is that it happened in the living room, amid the well-stocked bookcases and sofas and fireplace, of a house in a place that was once perfect. Perfect, in that it was flawless, a clear canvas for every individual to explore their creative selves. This place, LambdaMOO, is a virtual Garden of Good – and, perhaps inevitably once people had entered it, Evil. And that is how the masked character, Mr Bungle, comes to assault and abuse two females by entering sadistic fantasies into a voodoo doll program; that is how the Schmoo wars begin, how wizards are isolated from their flock, how laws are fought over, how love and sex and death emerge into the virtual world – and how what began as ideal and virtual becomes actual and all to real. The reader becomes Gulliver, travelling into the Tiny World of virtual reality, wandering the pathways in a moral journey that belongs to Lord of the Flies with a cast of charcters from the Lawnmower Man.

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