People tend to think of the hypnosis scene on Second Life as one community. I think it might be three separate communities that happen to share the same space and play with each other. There’s a lot of overlap between these communities, and the lines between them are blurred, but there are still distinct differences.
This matters because not recognising these differences can cause problems when people from the different communities play together. I’ll touch on that later.
(I think this is true also of online play in general, but I have most experience with second life.)
The Three Communities
So, what are the groups?
The Roleplayers: These people come to SL to roleplay, and they act out fantasies of mind control, hypnosis, BDSM, and so on. They never knowingly go into trance, and they may not realise hypnosis is actually real. I’ve met people in this group who think everyone into hypnosis is just roleplaying.
The SL Trancers: There only real difference between this group and the first, is that they do seek out real trance, and have real hypnotic experiences. But they are able to isolate their SL experiences from RL, and hypnosis effects rarely last for long.
The RL Trancers: And then there are those who routinely experience deep hypnosis, and have no real concept of the difference between RL and SL. This means that suggestions can have a long-term effect that sticks with them when they leave SL, and they have to be careful to avoid problems caused by that.
SL and RL Trancers
A bit more on what I mean by SL and RL trancers:
My theory is that SL Trancers don’t experience very deep trances – you can achieve all the fun stuff you want, like orgasm suggestions, hypnotic bondage, feeling compelled to obey, and even feeling like you’re in a deep trance, in light trances.
Or, perhaps their mind compartmentalises Second Life as a separate context from Real Life. This phenomenon is actually pretty common: everyone who acts differently when with their boss or parents, compared to their partying or shopping buddies has experienced it. You act completely differently in these contexts, showing a different persona. You may not even consciously realise you are acting differently because you are not acting. These different personas are just different sides of the real you. I think the same thing happens with people on SL. And so, when you are given hypnotic suggestions on SL, they are associated with your SL persona and are left behind when you leave SL.
The RL trancers by contrast have no such filter between RL and SL, and go into deeper trances more easily than SL trancers. This causes them specific problems that the other two groups don’t face, and can cause them to approach play in very different ways.
Before I continue, though, I want to make one thing clear: all three of these groups are equally valid, and none are superior to any other. People in all three groups might be casual and interested only in quick hookups, or serious and seeking long-term, meaningful relationships. What this article is about specifically is how these groups approach play, not their approach to relationships.
Roleplayers and SL Trancers are very similar. The first group sees suggestions as just roleplay, and the second group knows they won’t stick (even though they might want them to), so they both jump into scenes pretty easily. There’s no need to negotiate terms of consent ahead of time, and in fact, doing so might rob the moment of its erotic heat.
This also means that when they give suggestions, they don’t build in safeties. They don’t say things like, “This suggestion will last for this scene, and this scene only. This trigger will work for me, and me alone.” For most of the people in these groups that I’ve played with, it’s not a conscious decision to ignore safeties – they just don’t think about them at all. It’s an alien concept because they’ve never needed them. And when they are asked to use them, they often have no real idea how to do safety suggestions, because it’s so different from their experience.
They are also likely to give suggestions like (assuming they fit the scene being played), “You feel like a slut and will sleep with anyone who asks, at any time. You are always horny and need to masturbate whenever you can. You are my slave, and crave to be near me, nothing else matters to you – not your family, your work, nothing.”
These are real suggestions I’ve been given, by the way. It should take no imagination to realise how suggestions like these could cause problems for RL Trancers, in real life. But for roleplayers and SL trancers, they are just hot fantasies, just harmless fun.
I should mention that your mind will reject most bad suggestions anyway, but the way it rejects them can be unpleasant: you can be shocked out of trance and be upset with the hypnotist, feeling violated. Your hypnotist might be confused and upset too, because they thought they were just having harmless fun and giving you what you wanted and don’t understand why you’re upset.
Or you might start accepting the suggestion a little bit because being exposed to it over and over is conditioning you. And over time, it might get stronger before you realise what is happening.
That’s just one kind of problem that occurs. Another comes from people not identifying which group they are actually in.
The Differences Are Blurred
If you describe these categories to people and ask them what group they are in, a lot of SL trancers will say they are in the RL trance group. They won’t be lying, they’ll think it’s true. But this group is by definition people for whom suggestions do not stick, and whose RL is not impacted by trancing in SL, and whose playing habits have been shaped by the fact that they don’t need to think about safeties. Think about whether that really applies to you.
Remember, these categories are arbitrary, created purely to help me better understand the kind of play I see on Second Life. Being an SL Trancer is not lesser than RL trancers, it’s just different.
RL trancers might be the least common group, but they also might be common – they just don’t play as often as the other groups. You can often identify them because they won’t play without having discussions of safety, and might not play with anyone until they get to know them over time. They have learned through experience to be careful, because carelessly worded suggestions or ones without safeties can screw them up.
To blur the lines again, these categories are not rigid. Some roleplayers can start to experience trance (the line between roleplay and trance is actually pretty slim) and drift into the SL trancers group, and some SL trancers will get better at trance and become RL trancers.
And these changes can be temporary. Someone who is usually a roleplayer might have a scene that is constructed so perfectly for them that they drift into a RL trance experience for that scene.
This means people who normally enjoy themselves in a reckless, carefree way can have experiences they don’t expect and can cause them unpleasant or confusing problems.
The Problems This Causes
Okay, now we get to the real reason I wrote this article. I fall into this last group, and for a long time struggled to understand why the online hypnosis scene was often such a horrible place for me. Figuring out these different categories is my attempt to make sense of it.
I’ve said in this article that these three groups are all valid, and there’s nothing wrong with belonging to either. That is totally true. However…
The hypnosis scene itself is pretty toxic. Consent violations are not merely rife, they are the norm. The reason for this is because most people are approaching play as if it is a game, and frivolously use serious brainwashing techniques and assorted mindfuckery on each other with no thought given to the consequences.
But you can understand how this culture arose by realising that for most people, this has no real consequences – and in fact, it is fun and what they actually want.
But now you are aware that there are different groups of people with different needs, and so should at least think about how you approach play. Think back over scenes that went wrong, and consider – did it go wrong because you were playing with someone in a different one of these categories, and neither of you realised it? Did someone accuse you of being abusive, which seemed unfair at the time because you really didn’t intend to be, but in light of the ideas presented here, you can understand why they might have thought that?
If you can take this article to heart, and adapt your play to account for the differences between these categories, you can help make the scene a much better place for all kinds of hypno enthusiasts.