The Plague of Popularity: Do You Take Your Second Life Friends for Granted?

June 1, 2008 at 9:48 pm (Communication, Friendship, Life, Love, Relationships, Second Life) ()

Do you love me or do you not?
You told me once, but I forgot.

I don’t know about you,  but I spent many of my teen years filled with angst and consumed by a persistent desire to be part of the popular crowd. It was unfortunate I was plagued with parents who thought expensive name-brand clothing was extravagant and unnecessary. I say unfortunate because–probably like many of you–I grew up in an era known for its rampant materialism and shallow definitions of success. Ah the ’80s, when your worth as defined by others was derived from how many Izods you could layer underneath an oxford and what brand was displayed on your butt.

I like to believe times have changed a bit. Sure, there still exist needlessly overpriced clothing like Lucky jeans and Juicy Couture [$200 for jeans? You have to be kidding!]. But kids these days seem a little more focused on personal attributes and less likely to write you off simply because of your Wranglers.

What prompts me to muse on these moments and meander down memory lane you wonder? Well my last post discussed how studies have shown that Second Life can affect our personal self esteem in a positive way. And I mentioned that the opposite is also true; sad situations and suffering in SL can bring a cloud of melancholy and malaise to our real lives. Recently I realized how much my friendships within SL have a direct reflection on how sunny my disposition is during my day. And in that sense, it kind of feels like the terrible teens all over again.

I can’t shake the notion that each time we log into Second Life and our name appears on screen for all our friends to see, it feels like that moment of vulnerability in our youth when we stood before that boy or girl waiting to know if they’d dance with us or not. It’s strange to me how few folks welcome me to the grid when I first arrive. Imagine if a friend of ours walked in to a coffee shop or nightclub in real life. Most likely we’d stop in our tracks and reach out to hug them even if we’d just seen them yesterday. Yet in Second Life, there is no such greeting. In fact, I can go months without so much as a hello from that long list of comrades.

Regardless, my friendships are my favorite reason to be in Second Life at all. I admittedly get a thrill every time I hear the ding that comes when I receive an instant message from a friend; I excitedly look with anticipation to see who’s come knocking on my door. But sometimes I wonder if folks take those friendships in world for granted. I notice when friends partner up I hear from them less often, which is quite sad. And, like the relationship patterns we perpetuate in RL, sometimes we wait for our friends to make contact first–a behavior that also feels like a throwback to the turbulent teenage times.

So to wrap up this rambling post in a nuthshell, here is some advice. See that long list of friends in your upper right corner? When was the last time you picked up the proverbial phone and said hello? Go ahead and make the first move. I guarantee your friend will feel fantastic because you did. And that is real friendship–the desire to make someone else happy just because you can.

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