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Scylla Rhiadra

Public Chat or IM? Has a Culture Shift in SL Made It Harder to Meet People?

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I don’t mind either IMs or public chat. But I also consider myself a tweener, I started when last names were still a thing and mesh was “coming soon” but not old enough to go way back.

I said all that to say, I remember when SL was much more social and inclusive and I noticed when a shift towards an IM culture started. People started putting “I don’t respond to local” etc. I’m ok with both to be honest. I think it’s a generational thing.

Before someone gets all upset, allow me to explain.

For boomers and Gen X’ers, people tend to be large group oriented. School was a whole class thing. The internet was just starting to come into its own and chat rooms were large group experiences. Forums were a thing and that was how people met and communicated. People tended to stick with a conversation, because a pc could only run one program at a time.

Enter Millennials and Gen Z. School became small group oriented. Texting and sexting became a thing, im’ing and quicker methods of communication became preferred. Emojis, text speak, etc. conversations are more fluid. ie someone will say something and pick up the conversation 20+ minutes later (something that happens frequently in text). People tend to be more tabbed out, on SL....watching Netflix or playing video games all at the same time.

Obviously, it’s not just younger generations doing this. I’m just saying what became the norm as time and technology have passed.

I like people talking in local. It makes the world seem more alive. But at the same time, what I’ve noticed is people tend to still talk in local, but it’s less inclusionary. People will say something like “ Oh, I just jump right in!” That doesn’t work for everyone and again, I think this is a generational thing. Younger generations tend to not just jump into conversations. 
 

Even in clubs, I remember when there would be social games. A host would come up with things for people to do together. At some point, a host’s job just became to say hello to people that tp’d in and to expect a tip for that. Unsurprisingly, after a few minutes of not being engaged, people tp away.

I’m not even sure I answered the question. I think what Im trying to say is, I think I know why were more im oriented now. It’s up to us to change it though.

 

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In the beginning..... once I'd got the confidence to say anything, I operated in local, at newbie sims. On the odd occasion I wanted to ask something of a particular Avi I would use  IM. Most of my IMs were incoming at that stage.

Now, I don't look at local as much as I should. I really don't like clubs with spammy gesture ridden local which speeds along without meaningful content. 

Most beaches I visit are silent in local, so 99% of incoming IMs are from guys, and surprisingly some are just wanting a chat.  A few are smartasses but it soon shows. I especially don't  like the ones who try to analyse me. 

At my regular beach haunt, where everyone knows your name, it's mostly in local.

Clubs are rubbish for both local and IMs.......is what I've discovered.

Two guys I've kept in touch with over a long period both IMd me in deserted wilderness sims. Wilderness sims seem to attract a different type of person, although I've met my share of oddballs there as well.

The forum has been a great place to get to know people and it's always a thrill for me when I stumble over a Forumite by accident. Even better is meeting up by arrangement for photos or just to hang out a while.

Edited by BelindaN
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I probably can't really offer a whole lot on this front...because most of the people I talk to inworld are either in group chats, or strangers I meet due to happy (or not so, views may differ, lol) coincidences. I do NOT like clubs-for all kinds of reasons, but mostly...gesturebaters (ugh..you hurt me people, you really do 😛 ) so my experience with them is likely to be far more limited than most, lol. But. I do still visit social-y kinds of places, and they aren't all what they used to be. I'm not sure if it's necessarily attributed even in part to a culture shift in some places, though. I think in some cases, non-club public places, like social/help/infohub type places got so griefed for so long that people shifted away from that-couple that with the new user experience and that new users are no longer thrown to the wolves in those places and you're bound to have less publicly social places in those areas. A lot of the more long standing, or older if you will, places similar (london and similar) are either gone, or have now adopted some of folks that used to hang at those other previously more publicly social places like infohubs and whatnot, which have already shifted from being a lot more vocal to being a lot more im-y (I know, not a word, lol) because..reasons.

When I first came back to sl permanently, I came with a whole group of folks from TSO(The Sims Online, anyone who doesn't know, lol) and we had a whole region-well they paid for it, but realistically, we all hung out there, we dj'd, had a club, had parties, we did things we used to do in TSO...like chat and spend time together, and go on adventures(we din't do that in tso as much, but we could here..and so we did. I took many a newbie to Xcite, and then proceeded to help them get their nipples on right..but I digress). We did loads of things together, and then slowly but surely our crowd grew older, we lost some people, we found new interests, some found new love interests...and as with any kind of relationship..things went as they did. I still talk to quite a few of them, but certainly not all of them lol. And they would likely say the same. We came in as a very social-y sort of group, but we parted as interests changed. Even before that though, the shift from a more local chat to using group chats (in case we weren't all in the same place, and a lot of times, we weren't, lol) and ims. That seems a rather typical shift, I've seen people say this about clubs a lot too though. That places which used to be so chatty were now full of zombies in IM. I can see how that shift creeps in, I've seen it in other ways, so it makes perfect sense that it would happen elsewhere.

Plus, a lot of things people talk about, they don't want out there for every john dick and jane to read, so, that might also play a role, even if you're not the one, or the type to much care about such, I think "privacy"(or the appearance/desire of such) might play a bigger role too.

That all said, I was wandering around yesterday, finding bunnies as one does, and I wandered off someone's mainland parcel to a road, took a run for a few and managed ending up at some random place in the middle of nowhere that was more chatty than I'd seen in years. There was only about maybe 15 people, give or take a couple, but they were chatting up a storm. I thought it was maybe a infohub or similar, then thought maybe a club, but nope, just random people standing on some parcel in the middle of nowhere (admittedly, my dd was at like 32 at the time, but their parcel had some trees, a small building, bunch of different kinds of seating, and people, not much decor, no clubs around or infohub/newbie place anywhere in sight, no store..just, random as hell, lol) just having various conversations. If I ever find that place again, I need to lm it, lol. I thought I DID take a lm, but, I did not. 

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I don't tend to use IM unless the person I'm talking with is out of local range.  For me, IM is for "long distance" conversations or those fairly rare times when I really do have something private (or just catty) to talk about.  As a result, I can often fail to notice that someone has opened an IM conversation until long after she has given up on me.  

When I get together with friends, we are all in local chat, and none of us ever uses voice. 

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18 minutes ago, Tari Landar said:

That all said, I was wandering around yesterday, finding bunnies as one does, and I wandered off someone's mainland parcel to a road, took a run for a few and managed ending up at some random place in the middle of nowhere that was more chatty than I'd seen in years. There was only about maybe 15 people, give or take a couple, but they were chatting up a storm. I thought it was maybe a infohub or similar, then thought maybe a club, but nope, just random people standing on some parcel in the middle of nowhere (admittedly, my dd was at like 32 at the time, but their parcel had some trees, a small building, bunch of different kinds of seating, and people, not much decor, no clubs around or infohub/newbie place anywhere in sight, no store..just, random as hell, lol) just having various conversations. If I ever find that place again, I need to lm it, lol. I thought I DID take a lm, but, I did not. 

Tp history is your friend????

Edited by BelindaN

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I use voice when possible. Usually I chat in local. Lately I've been using IMs too much because my local chat window is clogged with debug messages from stuff I'm working on, but I expect that problem to end soon.

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3 minutes ago, BelindaN said:

Tp history is your friend????

It would be if I had tp'd out of there, but I have one of those, "let's see where this goes....oooh, squirrel" sort of brains. I didn't tp out anywhere near here, lmao. By the time I tp'd back home, I was sims and sims away, and had gone multiple directions in my travels. I tried to go back yesterday evening, to no avail. lol.  I'm sure I'll try my luck at it again, I tend to do that..but then I'll probably find another squirrel too

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Not quite to your point, Scylla, but more and more often it seems others I interact with don't speak in open chat. Most of my chatting with others comes from arriving at a customer's land to discuss a custom job where, in the past, we'd immediately start conversing in open chat -- but now they persist in IM.  It's a bit disturbing to me, as it seems they are not acknowledging we are now in a shared space, and I very much like to imagine SL as a world. But there could be other reasons they keep to IM's.

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2 minutes ago, Tari Landar said:

It would be if I had tp'd out of there, but I have one of those, "let's see where this goes....oooh, squirrel" sort of brains. I didn't tp out anywhere near here, lmao. By the time I tp'd back home, I was sims and sims away, and had gone multiple directions in my travels. I tried to go back yesterday evening, to no avail. lol.  I'm sure I'll try my luck at it again, I tend to do that..but then I'll probably find another squirrel too

...releases hundreds of magic flaming squirrels on your lawn.

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When I'm in a group setting, meaning there's more than one other person with me, I'll exclusively use public chat. Although I'm nefarious, IMing someone conversationally in a public setting just doesn't feel right. There are, of course, acceptable reasons to do it, such as to send/accept objects to be used in public and to exchange the associated pleasantries, or to really and truly whisper, as you might to a RL partner or friend when out in public. In group settings I'm usually both gregarious and watchful. You all know my personality. I want to get it out there quickly so I've got time to rectify any misfirings. Watching people's reactions to me and each other gives me (I hope) some small sense of their character.

Still, most of my SL chatting is actually done with friends via IM while I'm located far away from them. I think I'm not the only one doing this, as both The Far Away and Ivory Tower Sandox have residents who don't appear to be doing anything at all, and they're not doing it for hours on end. I have scared people away from both venues by addressing them in public chat, in what appears to be a curious inversion of privacy.

Edited by Madelaine McMasters
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I think it kind of depends. Often, people will talk about things in an IM that they simply won't in public. IM's can have a feeling of sitting down and talking softly while having a cup of coffee. Nothing wrong with that at all. After all, SL can sometimes be about connections between people for some. YMMV.

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38 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

...releases hundreds of magic flaming squirrels on your lawn.

This would literally keep me entertained for hours, if not days

We have a squirrel we hand feed here (rl, I mean, lol), his name's stubby, my kids named him when they were just tots. His tail was cut off by a car, but he's a very fat and jolly lil squirrel. He tends to bring friends to our yard, and then slowly but surely they all, but him, disappear. 

I'm pretty sure he's like squirrel mafia and he only brings other squirrels around so we put more food out, and then he slowly kills them all off so he can have all the food. That's a smart business, or personal interest, move if ever I've seen one. 

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17 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

When I'm in a group setting, meaning there's more than one other person with me, I'll exclusively use public chat. Although I'm nefarious, IMing someone conversationally in a public setting just doesn't feel right. There are, of course, acceptable reasons to do it, such as to send/accept objects to be used in public and to exchange the associated pleasantries, or to really and truly whisper, as you might to a RL partner or friend when out in public. In group settings I'm usually both gregarious and watchful. You all know my personality. I want to get it out there quickly so I've got time to rectify any misfirings. Watching people's reactions to me and each other gives me (I hope) some small sense of their character.

Still, most of my SL chatting is actually done with friends via IM while I'm located far away from them. I think I'm not the only one doing this, as both The Far Away and Ivory Tower Sandox have residents who don't appear to be doing anything at all, and they're not doing it for hours on end. I have scared people away from both venues by addressing them in public chat, in what appears to be a curious inversion of privacy.

There ^^  That's a much better way of saying what was on my mind.  Specifically, the bit about 

18 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

IMing someone conversationally in a public setting just doesn't feel right.

It's not just that it feels dumb to IM when I am standing right there looking at the other person, although that's part of it ( In the same sense that I think it looks dumb to see people in RL talking to each other on cell phones when they are obviously close enough to shake hands).  It's also that I think it's implicitly rude to everyone else.  Even if other people nearby may not be aware of the IM conversation, I still have the feeling that I am talking behind their backs.  I'm being exclusive and elitist in the same way that teenagers chatter behind their hands in little cliques.  Thank you, Maddy -- it just doesn't feel right.

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I'm definitely in the "local chat for small talk, IM for actual conversations" group with this, but it's definitely situational. With a group of people? Local chat is just easier, unless there's a pressing reason why it needs to be private. On the other hand, if a conversation started long-distance but then one of us came to the other, I see no reason to suddenly swap to local chat, so that stays in IM.

People that overshare in their private conversations conducted in local chat - please stop, thanks.

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When I was back on RL dating sites around 5 years ago, I noticed a big change from when I'd used the same ones close to 13 years ago. The earlier time, paragraphs (and usually a few) were the norm, a little bit about the writer, some about what interested him in my profile (or vice versa), and an invitation to continue the conversation if you'd like. The later time, most went right into short back and forths, like texts rather than e-mail (even when it was nominally still an e-mail system on the site).

I think it was the shift to phones, texts and constant notifications rather than computers and e-mail which was the biggest influence, more than social media, but it's all part of the same ecosystem. I'm not sure how that would play into local v IMs so I'm just throwing it into the pile for consideration.

Inworld, I'd add group chat as a primary social avenue. It could be changes in which groups I belong to, or maybe even just changes in the interface, but it feels like group chat dominates in a way it didn't several years ago. What do others think on this?

For me personally, I've never been great in large social environments and much prefer smaller conversations, both in RL and SL. Free-flowing local chat can be interesting to watch but I've never been quick enough to get my response thought out and typed. As my health worsens though, I struggle more and more with multiple streams of conversation going on. The frequent changes of focus just exhaust me even when I'm not trying to reply. (Time zones and US-centric scheduling doesn't help either.) The years before my surgery were like this too, and that's when I stopped trying to participate in larger social settings. Which is a long way of saying, I wonder how many of the IMers are simply more comfortable in smaller conversations for their own reasons?

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I love to chat in local.  I always have. SL is my social outlet. My first avatar used to sit at NCI(New Citizens Inc) for hours every day just listening to everyone who came in with problems and the helpers there answering questions.  I learned so much about SL that way.  Then I found the forums and began hanging out with forum friends at music venues. We did all our talking in local and we had a blast.

Sadly that group splintered when we learned that one person had been gaming us the whole time. At the same time, my partner of 3 years left SL and left me bereft.  So I re-invented myself as Kali and moved on to a club that had a lively local chat and music I loved.  That became my home and 7 years later I still love to chat in local there. I loved it so much they gave me a job hosting a few years back and I still host there once a week. 

Whether I'm hosting or just hanging out, I always chat in local but I don't reject IMs.  IMs are more personal and it's a different level of communication.  Whoever said that if a new man IMs you out of the blue it's because he wants a hookup wasn't wrong. 

I prefer a bit of flirting in local before the move to IM, and if the guy is not sophisticated enough to understand that, then I'm probably not interested, but there have been some that surprise me.  For the past year, I've been exclusive with one person though so I don't engage privately with others.  As a host I always respond; but I'm quick to blow them off if it's a pick up line. I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt. 

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3 minutes ago, Bitsy Buccaneer said:

Inworld, I'd add group chat as a primary social avenue. It could be changes in which groups I belong to, or maybe even just changes in the interface, but it feels like group chat dominates in a way it didn't several years ago. What do others think on this?

For me it's just the opposite. I used to belong to several chatty groups, like NCI, FabFree and the TwistedHunt group but now I turn off chat for almost all of my groups.  

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6 minutes ago, Bitsy Buccaneer said:

Inworld, I'd add group chat as a primary social avenue. It could be changes in which groups I belong to, or maybe even just changes in the interface, but it feels like group chat dominates in a way it didn't several years ago. What do others think on this?

I'd definitely agree with this, I got banned/removed from a group not too long ago because someone was having an unrelated conversation with me in a group chat and I said "I do have an IM box you know"...and someone went waaaaaaaaay off the deep end about it, got some other someones riled up and bam...banned, lmao. (my laughing at them-as in, I kept lol-ing everything they said while they were busy white knighting for one another probably didn't help, but it was hilarious watching them get angry about something so weird. If they could've actually heard me, they would've realized, I really was laughing)

Most of my interactions with multiple people is either here on the forums, or in group chats these days. If I went places with more people, or actually hung out with more people, I would prefer to speak with them locally( in type of course, no one wants to listen to my fat cat give his rendition of whatever it is he's always yammering about or listen to whatever I'm  listening to, CSI Miami atm :)). If we're not in the same place, IM, group convos, etc.. is perfectly acceptable. I would only use IM if what I had to say to someone I'm standing there with is not meant for anyone else around to see...like when I tell them their clothes, body, nipples, butt, or freenii are misaligned, people get real butthurt when you insult their very expensive bits and pieces in public. Oh, and that...will also likely get you banned/removed from places too..in case you're wondering. 

I've never actually been banned anywhere for doing something bad, I'm probably not trying hard enough. 

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7 minutes ago, Bitsy Buccaneer said:

it feels like group chat dominates in a way it didn't several years ago. What do others think on this?

For me personally, I've never been great in large social environments and much prefer smaller conversations, both in RL and SL. Free-flowing local chat can be interesting to watch but I've never been quick enough to get my response thought out and typed.

For me, group chat is a non-issue.  I can't recall the last time that I was in a group chat (as opposed to sitting with a group of friends and talking in local chat). I don't use groups as a way to talk.

Like you, I am much more comfortable in small groups than in a large social environment.  The difference for me is that I love the sort of free-for-all that happens in local chat when several of us are talking at once.  I am a poor typist, so I have long since given up all hope of typing out anything without loads of typos.  I just type as fast as I can, hoping that others will see my stumbling mistakes as nothing worse than mumbling or stuttering in RL.  That also means that I am also very tolerant of other people's typos and verbal faux pas, and of the sort of clumsiness that comes from talking all at once, with delays.  It's all rather funny, and leads to humorous side conversations -- metaconversations -- about the chat itself.  When I am with friends, we often end up commenting on each other's typos and unintended double entendres as much as we do about the actual topic of conversation.  While it's true that we could have the same sort of experience in IM, it's less likely.  IMs just don't have the right level of flippant gaiety.

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Another thing I’d like to add on the generational pile. Yes, younger people tend to text someone else while in a meeting or in public. So I could see how it’s can be viewed as sneaky, because sometimes it is! 
 

However, a thing to consider about local: when you’re dealing with a group of 5+ people, local can be much harder to follow and exponentially so the more people that get involved in the conversation. 
 

You tend to see this in large group chats as well as local. The conversation will shift because someone will jump into it with something completely different. This can be especially problematic in a help group, because while someone is in the middle of explaining something, someone else or the same person (!) will be trying to explain something different to someone else, plus the tangent that is now going on...a large group chat can be like a word salad sometimes.

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2 hours ago, Beth Macbain said:

Ah, but just because they see it as a step forward doesn't mean that I do. To keep it to the real world bar analogy, a guy might come up to my table and say hello, and I might have a conversation with him, and he might think he's about to score, but I know he isn't.

Yes, of course! Agreed. On the whole, though, I personally prefer to avoid the ambiguity when possible -- and not initiating an IM is one step in that direction. It's annoying enough batting off unsolicited come-ons, without having to deal with ones that may be, at least in part, the inadvertent result of my own choices.

2 hours ago, Beth Macbain said:

I have, up until Bellisseria, almost exclusively stayed strictly to A rated regions because I was in SL for those adult reasons, so, yeah, pretty much every IM was someone trying to get busy with me. I also made some really good friends from IMs that started off like that, but ended up just being buddies, and now that my SL world-view has gone through significant changes, the IMs I receive really are mostly just people saying hello.

And again, it's always useful to be reminded that there is no one "common" experience of SL. Which, of course, makes the kind of generalization that I am attempting in my OP all the more problematic.

2 hours ago, Beth Macbain said:

I'd be curious to hear other opinions on this just because I've never thought of an IM as anything other than a way to have a direct conversation with someone. I might be naively in the minority there!

Me too!!!

What I am hearing in the posts below is that my perception that there has been a "shift" from general to IM reflects the experience of a fair number of others as well.

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2 hours ago, Blush Bravin said:

I find that it's rather difficult to talk in local when I'm at a social event, specifically where musicians are playing, because of the amount of gesture spam occurring, so in that circumstance I much prefer talking in PM. I honestly believe gestures are the biggest deterrent to people enjoying conversations in local, which is a shame.

Interesting point!

Actually, gesture spam aside (and yes, I hate it with a passion too), it always seems somehow rude to talk in public while a live musician is playing. It's like you're not paying attention to their music?

Such local chat that I usually hear at live music events tends not to be about actual conversation anyway: it's most often people complimenting the musician, commenting on a particular song that they like, and so on.

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2 hours ago, Eva Knoller said:

I also prefer to get to know people in local chat, but I find a lot of people don’t follow local chat at all. It happens not infrequently that I’ll say something to a person in local chat and get no response at all. I’ve even encountered a forumite in the wild, said hello in local, and had the person walk right around my avatar. I am choosing to believe the person wasn’t looking at local...

OMG I'm so sorry! I swear I didn't see you!

Actually, though, this is a problem. It used to be that I had local open in front of me all the time, because that was where the majority of my communications took place. Nowadays, it's most often hidden behind IM windows. Fortunately, FS puts local up in temporary pop-up windows, so I'm usually alerted if someone is saying something that I'd otherwise miss.

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2 hours ago, cicelydawn said:

People who want to chat in local often seem to be under the mistaken impression that "It's so quiet in here" is a conversation opener.  Even the weather would have better results! 

Or “this place is dead”, or “full of bots”, or “how boring!”, or... yeah. I actively refrain from engaging all the whiners who basically expect the rest of SL to be there for the sole purpose of entertainment, and on keen watch to start talking—no matter what about—the very second they arrive... lest we disappoint them!

(Funnily enough, a lot of them remain exactly as silent and as unwilling to start a conversation themselves, and only usually drop a disparaging comment right before a ragequit).

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