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Second Life has a wide variety of cultural history created by residents who come from all across the real world and mix together in SL. Because of the many different backgrounds of residents SL has become in a way a small country much like the United States where a wide spectrum of social habits and moral backgrounds can be seen.
In the beginning, Second Life's culture was somewhat simple; that of a small community interested in development of ideas and experiments. Producing objects from their dreams: houses, beanstalks, toys, and other items that may otherwise not be possible to create in the real world. Fun and events were created spur-of-the-moment or planned and spread through word-of-mouth. But as the world grew the culture followed and many new trends appeared.
Residents still cary on the creative spirit of the past, developing new tools to use for purely entertainment value or specific need of functionality. Experimentation is still a fun daily activity for many; the sandboxes are often used to test various aspects of SL. The artistic form is present as well; sculptures expressing various forms of technique can be seen: realism, surrealism, bizarre, etc. Creations, whether they be for artistic value or a useful tool, are sometimes sold to other residents using the currency of SL, the Linden Dollar (L$). This currency fuels the economy and can be in turn traded for USD or for other items within SL.
Holidays & Socializing
Holidays have been formed over time by residents which can mimic other real-life events, or be made specifically for Second Life. Because of the many religious cultures present inside the grid, no holiday goes uncelebrated. While Linden Lab has been careful not to exclude or part favoritism on any one religion, there are a few holidays that are publically celebrated by LL and SL like Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, April Fools Day, and Valentine's Day. Continuing in the spirit of SL being a small country, LL has encouraged the creation of SL-specific holidays, and residents have gladly obliged, working with LL to create holidays such as Talk Like A Pirate Day, Hippo Day, Burning Life, and Winter Celebration.
Socializing takes place in many different settings, ranging from the familiar bars and night clubs, to the slightly more untraditional of forests and gothic castles. The architecture around SL is varying in more unusual than normal circumstances. With few regions having building regulations, and residents being able to build whatever their imaginations can muster, there is often a clash of architectural styles smeared together throughout the world. This situation brings about interesting views of a small town house next to a cyberpunk shooting range, or a farm with grazing animals next to a towering inferno of gothic idolization. However, some residents are up to theming the surrounding area and can create an extensive flow of cooperating style.
Interaction and communication between residents is largely informal. Handshakes are not used when greeting due to technological difficulties, but it is not uncommon to see friends hug or lovers kiss in public. Affection such as sex or other related acts are in large part carried out "behind closed doors" (due mostly to SL's TOS/CS rulings) or more commonly in what is known as a "sky box". Residents use sky boxes for privacy, whether it be sexual acts or just typical want of being alone without disturbance, because of technical limitations in that another resident can pan their camera through walls and doors. Sky boxes are often found at a high altitude and out of reach to most residents, they may also be accompanied by security "scripts" that can eject (from the land) or send home intruders.
Every now and then a bug (from benign to potentially dangerous) will be missed during testing of an upcoming release. Such bugs may allow a resident to copy an item illicitly -- which could be defined as "stealing." If residents take advantage of the bug rather than reporting it, Lindens (the police force inside SL) will take action against those residents.
Another form of abuse occurs when residents are interacted with against their will -- such as when weapons are used on those who do not wish to participate. One very common form of assault is "pushing," where a resident can relocate another resident to a very far distance away.
Some residents use "security scripts" to protect themselves, but if the settings are improperly configured, or the object containing the script is placed in a public area, unintentional abuse could result.
All judgment on "criminal" acts is passed by Linden Lab and carried out by Lindens. Sometimes short blurbs similar to real life police reports are entered into the Second Life website's "Police Blotter," documenting the general crime(s) and the penalty imposed upon the delinquent resident.
Government is in large part nonexistent, other than the "dictatorship" of Linden Lab, the company that owns Second Life. However, Linden Lab has been supportive of small groups who wish to start governments in certain areas (private islands, themed communities, etc.) as long as they abide to the TOS/CS set by LL. Question has been raised to start a world-wide government, but many residents have protested against the idea and remain in favor of the "dictatorship" of LL. Political discussion groups will often hold meetings on either real-world politics or Second Life politics, but these groups do not always fall under a user-government.
Several micro-nation self-governing communities have been formed, including the Democratic Republic of Neualtenburg, the Independent State of Caledon, the Confederation of Democratic Simulators, and Adam ondi Ahman. On the Teen Grid, major superpowers and nations include Black Talon, Valkyrie Alliance, New Rome, Righteous Iron Fist, Bloodline, and Sparta.
There are also cooperative structures such as banlink which allow organizations to share banlists and other information.
Arts & Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment play a significant role in Second Life. Using the in-world build tools and readily available space many artists have found SL to be a superior medium for displaying their works. Many museums and galleries in Second Life showcase works which have been created in-world as well as representations/recreations of art made in real life.
Main article Art Arts on second life include inworld art works and installations, representations of outworld art works, and use of second life as a platform for outworld creation, including machinima and mash ups. In addition there are numerous art galleries, museums and sculpture gardens which display or sell a wide variety of works. Another important category of art is the building of artistic avatars, including avatars which are symbolic of styles, such as cubism, or depictive, such as dragon avatars, tinies, furries and extreme transformation. (See also slart)
Art in sl can be the use of textures, scultpies, prims, scripts, video, audio, avatars or combinations of these.
Main article Entertainment Second Life provides residents with myriad entertainment opportunities. Much of the focus on this is "adult" entertainment in the form of clubs filled with strippers and escorts.
In these clubs residents can watch an amazing array of dancers use a limited set of dance moves in varying order. The major differential between the performers appears to be the combination of various xCite body parts and suggestive comments to the guest.
Beyond the sex clubs Second Life hosts an amazing number of venues for live musicians. Using streaming technology performers can broadcast live and recorded shows into any parcel in Second Life, with the parcel owners consent and cooperation.
One of the more rare live entertainments in Second Life is the group activity, pioneered by DanCoyote ZeroG SkyDancers in 2006.
Sports and Recreation
There are a few different sporting events held within SL, but few are annually recurring. Popular sports include Jet Ball (a popular game that has been around since early SL), Laser Tag, bowling, basketball, and other various sports. Many of the sports have been made based on real-life sport events such as basketball and baseball, but some also are resident-created specifically for SL, such as Jet Ball or Atlas Ball. Another popular form of "sport" is that of combat with resident-scripted weaponry. Battles and wars are played out in various battlefields--some in resident's homes and land they own and others on Linden-created property made specifically for combat.
As of 2011, many team sports leagues are in existence and active within SL. Sports include football, ice hockey, basketball, snail racing, sailing, golf, simboarding, wrestling, boxing, tennis, soccer and more. The sports communities are thriving and growing as residents discover new ways to expand on the scripting and platforms available to them to bring their goals to life.
Games are also a large part of Second Life's culture, as many residents use SL as a "platform" on which to create different games. Some games are made after traditional real-world games, such as Chess, Mahjong, Tetris, and Texas Hold'em. Residents also create games specifically aimed at Second Life audiences, such as Prim Attack, Duck Fishing, and Tringo. Tringo being one of the more unique games for the fact that it has branched out into real-world gaming (even being made available on cell phones and Nintendo's Game Boy Advanced). Tringo has also had a large cultural impact on SL itself, causing many events to be held to play Tringo, where hundreds of residents each week will attend. This behavior was previously seen with the more traditional game of Bingo, which has since been largely "phased out" of the events list.
Second Life has a great deal of of musical aspects to it as well. Residents have set up various live radio stations with a DJ for every day of the week. Some music artists who compose and create their own music also exist in SL, often hosting live concerts or writing music specifically for projects in SL. Using scripted objects, residents have also been able to make music within SL itself, using it as a sort of instrument that others from around the world can enjoy and play.
Other forms of media such as news and video entertainment exist as well. Several blog-style websites exist that provide articles on different topics of events that go on inside SL. These topics can range from social commentary on lifestyles within the community, to software changes of the client. Residents have also taken up the art of machinima, making movies using Second Life for setting and place. Another service that could be considered media is one called Snapzilla, which provides residents with the ability to send snapshots (taken through SLs built-in interface) directly to the website and displayed for others to see. Snapzilla has been used to chronicle popular events such as Town Halls, private events like weddings, to show off builds or interesting finds, and other fun activities happening within SL--kind of like a live news index or photo blog from around the grid.
The fashion world in Second Life is one that affects the very culture of our Grid. Many large-name designers have created whole lives for themselves in-world, and several others have hung onto their coattails. Fashion shows are constantly being held in-world, and new developments being made on the pre-set clothing templates that Linden Labs included when they developed Avatars.
There are many fashion blogs out there, most to be found []here; at Fashion Planet.