Monday, September 3, 2007

If you dance with me once, does that make you my friend?

After nearly three months in Second Life, I have a bunch of people on my Friends (or, as it’s called now, Contacts) list. Some are close friends, including that “special friend” who tickles my mind and makes my heart soar and my thighs tremble. Others are people I met once, maybe in a sandbox or at a favorite dance club. One is a musician who, I think, added me in a fit of self-promotion.

It’s handy to have the people you care about on your Friends list; you can know when they’re in world to take a ‘phone call,’ and in a few rare cases can even see where they are in world. With some friends who are coupled, I know, when I see that they’re both online, to let them call me, as I might be interrupting a date if I send one of them an IM. Others send me a ding the second they see me online, and still others never call me at all.

Thinking back on how they all landed in my virtual phone book, there seems to be a pattern: avatar sees avatar, avatar engages in public chat with avatar (maybe), avatar talks to avatar in IM (possibly during a session on some dance poseballs), avatar sends an Add Friend request. People who just see me at someplace like the Juke and send me a request without even talking to me first are summarily dismissed.

Of course, the first Add Friend requests came floating my way on Help Island, starting with an Italian guy calling himself Porky. I immediately realized this was going to be an international crowd, as I overheard some other guy nearby said he was from China. Hmmm…might SL provide a good opportunity to practice my Spanish? Then I befriended a woman named Icat in the freebie store. What fun: another potential fashionista with whom I could compare notes!

Of course, as time went on and I made more friends, I noticed that neither Porky nor Icat ever showed up online when I was there—and I was there a LOT. Neither did half the other people who added me as friends in the early days. Yeah, I practiced my Spanish a little, and a smattering of German once. As the list grew, I learned to delete people I hadn’t seen for a month, or people I really couldn’t talk to easily. I learned to select friends carefully, with a conversation that lasted more than 10 minutes—or, preferably, several lengthy separate conversations. While there are still a few people on the list who are really more acquaintance than friend, I will eventually winnow them out too. But I will say that if Sasha Memotech ever shows up in world again when I’m there, honey, I’d love another chat dance, OK?

So what really makes someone a friend in SL? Do you have rules for adding people? How many people are on your list? How many of those are you REALLY close to? Discuss.

EDIT: A few people who are DEFINITELY my friends but don't call often have expressed concern that I might delete them....don't worry, it's the people who talk to me ONCE who eventually get jettisoned, and I wait quite a while to do it. Didn't mean to cause my less chatty pals anxiety!


AlterKattze said...

I'm pretty sure I'm your friend. Not calling every day doesn't mean I'm not. :)

Nice blog.


One of the Latte Regulars said...

Interesting blog Roisin. It seems that people have far more friends of the "opposite" sex in SL. As a woman, it would be interesting to hear how long it was before you (and other readers) had other women on the friends list. For me it was roughly 2 months after I was "born"!

Roisin Hotaling said...

Yes, Alter, you'll always be my friend.

As far as friends of the same gender, it was less than two months after my rezday before I had my first female friend, but I noticed that pattern, too. If I'd had date stamps enabled back then I could tell you when I started befriending other women. Maybe on of them will remember.

Slade Pfeffer said...

Nice blog page Roisin and a good question. I add friends to my list on a sort of probationary basis. Many people offer which is nice but until I get to know them and if there is a basis for a friendship (usually requires more than a nice dance or a physical attraction)the likelihood of them staying on the list is in question. I view the offer for friendship as a starting point to see if a relationship develops. If the relationship develops they stay on the list otherwise I remove them after a about a month or so.

orchid said...


Keary said...

vdfxyenrThe last four months have seen friends added and dropped. Dropped unceremoniously or reluctantly, but removed nevertheless. The list is dynamic; it ebbs and flows, just as in real life, only in microcosm and in a time warp that would have ol’ Albert rethinking the relativity of it all.

The demographics of my friends are wide. I am pleased that I have friends on five continents and they speak a total of five different native languages – and I am sure that pales in comparison to many more extraverted personalities on SL, but I am happy with my little group. One dance does not make a friend, but one honest conversation might.