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On Friendship, Online Relationships, And Apparent Stalkers [Sep. 17th, 2005|12:31 am]
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[Current Mood |depresseddepressed]
[Current Music |Budha Building - So Easy (Digitally Imported - Chillout)]

When did it become a crime to use a feature built into the system? Was it when I got upset over someone not being a good friend to me?

Somehow I've been tossed into a virtual tornado. I've got friends ditching me left and right. It's my fault though. Last few weeks I've not been feeling emotionally well. Anywho, the real question is: Why is it so wrong to use the friend tracker on the map to find where friends are so you can go say something as simple as "Hi"? Am I the only one who uses this feature? Am I the only one who absolutely hates IMs, and would rather be face to face so I know I'm getting the attention I want (or not as the case may be)?

After the events that have transpired today...I have a feeling that I'll be wiping out the majority of my friends list so I won't be a "burden" or "bother" to anyone anymore.

P.S. Sorry there isn't a pic to go with this one. Not in the mood to find something to go with the topic.

From: moriash
2005-09-18 05:23 am (UTC)
Heh. Please don't equate wordcount with depth of feeling in the following. I don't really care overmuch about the issue... I'm just inflicted with chronic logorrhea. It's very sad, I know, but I get by as best I can.

To answer the practical question first: I almost never use the friend tracker to find someone out of the blue. Usually I drop an IM, chat a bit, and ask for a teleport if they haven't told me to get lost by that point. If nothing else, it's still faster than flying. I usually just use the friend tracker to find people in crowds, like when I'm wandering through a large event (Burning Life, etc.) with a group.

Socially, I feel about the same level of annoyance at unannounced friend tracking that I feel when a friend shows up on my doorstep unannounced. I expect I'm not in the minority there. Seems like it's just common courtesy to call ahead first. I mean, there are plenty of times when I'm busy or I just don't want to deal with people- even if said people are good friends. That's as true in SL as it is in RL. At least with an IM, like a phone call, you can say "Hey, it's good to hear from you, but I'm kinda busy at the moment. Catch up with you later?" Can't really do that when someone's just stalked you across 23 sims and shown up on your doorstep. Not without feeling like a putz, anyway.

Showing up in person creates a social obligation in the other party. Doesn't matter if you intend it as such or not, or even if you protest that they shouldn't stop what they're doing. There's still that fundamental ingrained training you had as a child, telling you it's not polite to ignore someone and go on with whatever you're doing. And invoking that obligation, especially casually and without warning, can be irritating. Sure, that social norm is relaxed with close friends, again just like RL. But those are exceptions that prove the rule, just like that close friend of the family that lets himself in your back door and grabs a Coke from the fridge before saying "Hello."

Of course, there's also a certain level of basic creepiness in just appearing where someone else is. Imagine you're at the movie theatre, or mall, or the local bookstore. Someone you know shows up out of the blue and sits next to you. "Hi, I thought you'd be here, so I thought I'd drop in!" Doesn't matter that SL provides an automated stalking device to make it easier- dropping in on someone when they're out and about taking care of their own business is just creepy.

I think it's all part of the immersion thing. Yeah, we're all sitting in front of a computer screen, and yeah all our bits and bytes are within 20 feet of each other at all times (or however close together the server racks are at Linden Lab). But the illusion of personal space brings with it the social norms regarding the respect of said space. It's the flip side of preferring face to face communication in SL. You're still just typing at them! Why does it matter if you can see their little emotionless cartoon puppet images while you do so? It's not like you can read their expressions, inflection, and body language. It does very little to enhance the communication in practical terms. But it still just feels right. If you're going to embrace that level of immersion, as most folks do, then you have to embrace the associated real world courtesies.
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