Recently, fellow blogger and all-round artistic genius Canary Beck wrote a post that, as far as i’m concerned, absolutely nailed one of my most annoying sl gripes. Her post, ‘The instant IM and honouring transition time in Second Life’, is well worth a read in itself, and i don’t intend trying to add to Becky’s words in any way, other than by giving my own personal point of view in relation to the points she makes.
Perhaps it’s the intrinsically anti-social side of my nature that makes ‘transition time’ so important to me in both the virtual and real worlds: it’s a part of my character that makes me extremely difficult to live with, (at least, i imagine it would – i certainly wouldn’t want to live with me!), but is nonetheless an essential coping mechanism, without which, i’d have difficulty in juggling the things that life throws at me. There’s just no way that i can arrive home from a busy day in work and instantly be able to deal with somebody else demanding attention or my time – i need to be able to switch off and get myself in order before i can even consider anyone else’s needs. Selfish maybe, but that’s me, and you’re just going to have to trust me on this – if you were unfortunate enough to have to share my living space, it really would be far less hassle to just let me get on with things my way rather than hope that i’m going to change any time soon!
The same is very much true when it comes to sl – consider things from the point of view that i’m probably logging-in to get away from things, be they the pressures of the world, work or other commitments, or even from the need to be at the beck and call of others. So it stands to reason that i’m not going to be hugely impressed if i’m subjected to a barrage of greetings, messages and invitations the moment my virtual escape pod touches down inworld. Being on the receiving end of a, “Hi, how are you?”, before my clothes have even rezzed is – for me at least – one of the all-time biggest sl irritations, and the temptation to snap back, “How the hell do i know how i am?… i can’t even see who i am yet!”, is pretty overpowering at times.
Before you start accusing me of being a bit of a prima donna, and maybe downright rude, let me just say that i’m fully aware that people are only being friendly, and that some don’t wish to appear rude or ignorant by failing to acknowledge my presence when that annoying prompt, ‘Serendipidy Haven is Online’ pops up on their screen. It makes not an iota of difference to me: i’ll announce my presence when i’m good and ready because sometimes when i log on, my primary concern is just to ‘get away from it all’, so that immediate IM is somewhat akin to rushing in from the front door, all flustered and out of breath, to grab the ringing phone, only to find it’s some idiot cold-caller trying to hawk PPI.
That’s probably a little unfair, but when it comes to IMs, especially ones i haven’t initiated myself, i’m pretty crap. It takes a real effort for me to sustain a normal, everyday conversation with someone at a distance, whom i can’t see, particularly if – as is often the case – i’m trying to multitask at the time. Conversing whilst building, shopping, having another conversation or going through the ritual of preparation that is so essential to starting off every session inworld, is not something i find at all easy, and certainly not within nanoseconds of logging in – because i need time, lots of time, to adjust to the change from the real to virtual, although i fully appreciate that i could be in the minority here, and others may well burst into sl, all guns blazing, ready and fully prepared to take whatever the virtual world can throw at them from the word go.
So, if you’ve ever found yourself saying a friendly ‘hello’ to me when my name appears on your screen and received a somewhat frosty response – or no response at all – or if you’ve ever started a conversation with me, only to find that it’s petered out into a long, drawn out and embarrassing silence… now you know why. It’s not you, it’s me – i’m just not the social, desperate to interact with friends at any time of the day or night, sort of person.
Just thank your lucky stars you don’t have to put up with me in real life!
This machine will, will not communicate
These thoughts and the strain I am under
Be a world child, form a circle
Before we all go under
And fade out again and fade out again
Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out)