Not so much to do with us

While the story of Kimberly Jernigan really has nothing much to do with the virtual environment of Second Life, you're probably going to read and hear a lot over the next week or two from people who would desperately like you to think that it does.

Jernigan from North Carolina and an unidentified older man from Claymont, Delaware met online, but their relationship didn't last out in the physical world. Jernigan reportedly became increasingly unstable when things didn't work out and then allegedly stalked and attempted to kidnap her ex-boyfriend at his home. Jernigan posed as a postal worker in order to obtain information about his home address. Charges include attempted kidnapping, burglary and aggravated menacing.

Just what is the lesson here? People from North Carolina can't be trusted? Watch out for people who seem to be postal workers? That you should always remember that everyone behind an online avatar or toon is an ordinary person? Actually, probably the lesson is that many ostensibly 'respectable' media agencies would walk through fire to demonize your online pastimes, interests and hobbies unnecessarily. Pay attention to whom.

Probably, at the end of the day Jernigan's ability to get the man's address by posting as a postal worker is the really scary part here. If you've ever had a stalker, that alone will give you the chills. Privacy and anonymity are only the thinnest of shells, and can be pierced by those who are determined.

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