Social VR Bystander Intervention — and an Invitation a Free Training
In previous research, I documented the prevalence of harassment in social VR. It’s something that both men and women experience and deters some people from even engaging in social apps.
A theme of people observing harassment also started to emerge:
“Witnessed multiple instances of dudes being gross with female avatars.”
There were other stories people told of trying to intervene when they saw harassment, but they became the targets instead:
“The two other guys started harassing her and saying lewd and rude things, and when I asked them to leave her alone, they started cussing me out.”
These anecdotes and others demonstrated there’s a discomfort in being a bystander, but directly confronting people can escalate conflict. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to intervene when witnessing harassment and many of them are very easy. I decided to adapt recommendations from meatspace bystander interventions [here, here, and here] and equip our avatars with proven tactics.
I taught the first social VR bystander intervention training this week and this is what one participant had to say about it:
Like many people I’ve been confronted with harassment in VR and been unsure how to help. After this class I have several concrete ideas and a real plan.
— Jeremy Nickel, SacredVR
There are two more upcoming trainings in July and I hope you will attend one of them. They will be held July 3rd at 1pm Pacific and again on July 10th at 2:30pm Pacific inside of the High Fidelity platform. The event is free and here’s how to sign up: