Thursday, August 7, 2008

Is SL just a game? How do we treat others in SL?

My Dear Friends,

It has been a rough week in SL for me. Isn't SL supposed to be fun? It makes me think of the question we often hear... "Is SL just a game?"

My answer is definitely a shout of "No!" Sure there are "games" you can play in SL such as the role play sims. But, SL is not just a "game."

SL is a virtual world where every avie has a real life human being behind the keyboard with real life feelings. At it's most basic level, SL is a chat room with visuals. It is a place to meet people from all over the world and socialize whether it's in the form of sitting and talking or exploring beautiful parts of SL together or dancing together and listening to live music.

I love making new friends on SL, and I do consider them friends. I'm actually interacting and talking with the human behind the keyboard even if it is through our cartoon avatars.

So, why is it so easy to get hurt and hurt someone else on SL? I have pondered this question a lot. I think one of the big answers is that even though you are interacting with someone they are faceless. You have never walked up to them in real life and looked them in the eyes. I think our feelings in SL are intense also because there are no real life prejudices holding us back. All we see is the perfection of our avies not the feelings and compassion in the eyes of the person behind the keyboard.

How should we treat our friends in SL? Well, my suggestions are simple:

1) Be honest. Even if you think honesty is not what the other person wants to hear, honesty will bond your friendship closer in the end.

2) Treat someone in SL with the same respect you would treat them with in real life. An example that I hear a lot, would you really marry someone and then go back and tell an active boyfriend or girlfriend that you married someone else? Somehow, I think most people would tell them first.

I hold my close friends dear to my heart. And, if our friendship is close enough, it transcends SL into real life... because, after all, my avie is me.

Love & Hugs,

1 comment:

Tho said...

I always grieve when I see someone hurting, especially a friend, and especially when that hurt is caused by the thoughtlessness of others. In the almost two years since I first rezzed in SL, I've seen a number of people hurt very deeply. Some have healed to some degree or other, and are still there, while others left completely.

You are so right about there being real people behind the avvies. But we forget that in "real" life, too. We put celebrities on pedestals, and then knock them down again, laughing at how silly they are, all the while forgetting that they are real people, with real hurts and feelings and needs. It seems to be part of the human condition that we tend to devalue the humanity of certain people, be they celebrities, or members of other groups, or, in this case, avatars.

Some in SL choose to be completely transparent about who they are in RL, while others choose to keep that information private. Most are somewhere on a line between those extremes. But all are humans who can be hurt most by those they trust.

Relationships are delicate things than need to be nurtured, and should not be cast lightly aside. This I believe is true regardless of whether the life in which those relationships occur is "real" or "second".

Anyway, my friend, a big hug for you.