We all have them; some are more pronounced than others, some we are aware of, whilst we may be completely oblivious to others, some are endearing and others may be horribly annoying and irritating. If it’s often these character traits and idiosyncrasies that make us uniquely who we are.
That little raising of an eyebrow, the odd inflection we attach to particular words, that weird way we have of eating our meals… All distinguishing features that for some reason seem to be more noteworthy and noticeable than the myriad of other qualities and foibles we may possess and are irrevocably tied to our personality.
We should never underestimate the power of a quirk. People are constantly falling in love with each other over such things as simple as the way someone signs off their text messages, or that little smirk they give when they have a random naughty thought. Equally, those same quirks can have completely the opposite effect – somehow those little nuances that once seemed so innocuous can develop into the most annoying habit in the world. It’s funny how the smallest things can become deal breakers, I’ve lived with people whose annoying habits can, over time, become monstrous obstacles to harmonious living: It doesn’t help if you’re just a little bit OCD – but there comes a time when faced with plates put away in the wrong cupboard, yet again, or having to contend with the toothpaste being squeezed from the wrong end of the tube one more time, or putting up with that little tapping sound they make with their nails whenever they’re relaxing… Suddenly you just want to punch their lights out!
Such character traits and behavioural quirks can be equally pervasive in SL too. Many, if not all of the people I spend my time with inworld, have their own personal characteristics that can be quite endearing, at times amusing, and on occasion, downright annoying. Just as in the real world, I suppose we can be influenced in the way in which we might feel about a fellow resident as a result of these quirks, although I’d suggest it’s probably unlikely that we’d persuade ourself to fall in love with anyone inworld as a result of them in the manner we might do in RL – in the real world, it’s those subtle little nuances that we engage with and serve to enhance a person’s character, which we only really tend to become aware of when there is some other form of attraction already present.
On the other hand, we really don’t need to be at all romantically interested in a person to spot, and even be repulsed, by those negative traits that are really pretty hard to ignore. It’s no different in SL – and, just as in real life, it’s entirely possible to be an eminently likeable person in all other respects, yet still have a few odd quirks that drive all those around you mad. There’s the person who’d do anything to assist a friend in need; the very soul of generosity, yet this positive aspect of their character is completely overshadowed by the fact that they seem incapable of turning up anywhere they’ve promised to be at an agreed time. Or maybe they’re a great friend, but they’re constantly putting you into compromising positions, or embarrassing you in company. Sometimes it can just be a person’s manner or the pall of doom they cast when they walk into a room… Even the nicest, friendliest and unassuming SL friend can possess a quirk of character that can infuriate us, drive us to distraction and irritate the hell out of the most saintly and accepting of friends.
Maybe there’s a salutary message there to be learned. The problem with SL is that, without the real life subtext and accompanying essential human characteristics, those less than desirable traits that might otherwise pass practically unnoticed in the real world can be thrown into stark focus when inworld. We perhaps need to be somewhat more self-aware in SL than in our everyday lives, because we might just be antagonising those very people that we’d never even consider trying to alienate under normal circumstances.
And, yes, I really should take a long hard look at myself too in that respect!
Then she pulled at my stitches one by one, looked at my insides clicking
her tongue and said
“This will all have to come undone”
Missy Higgins – Scar