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


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On 10/16/2019 at 3:58 PM, anniepany said:

Bolded: I think one reason people insist on IM's is because they want to have a log of what is said. That's been my experience because I've ask them to speak in local and that's the response I've gotten. For a business I can understand but if it's just chatting, I much prefer local chat unless I'm talking with my guy then I enjoy the private time together

Doesn't make a bit of sense to me, since local can be logged. All chat in SL can be logged... local, shouted, whispered, IMs, group... all of it can be logged. I've been logging it all since 2005. And even then, logs can be faked very easily. Good thing LL logs everything so they can tell when someone has altered or completely faked a chat log. Timestamps just makes it easier and quicker for them to find the pertinent logs.

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Second Life has changed a great deal in the 11+ years I've been here in some pretty obvious ways. The technology (and especially the graphics) are markedly better, while "creation" has shifted away fr

If it's in a club or someplace where there is an actual social event going on, I think it's up to the host or hostess to keep local chat alive. Throw out a topic, and if it's something interesting, I'

I'm not a chatty person. And I don't like people. The two may be related.

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On 10/16/2019 at 8:13 AM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

do you prefer to become familiar with someone through their interactions in public before taking the leap to IM?  Or are you more comfortable with going straight to a one-on-one conversation?  Which approach has proven to be more effective, for you, in meeting and maybe befriending other people?

I am quite comfortable in either mode.  If I'm at a club and there's a public conversation going on I'm almost certain to join in unless I'm with a date in which case I tend to just be absorbed in private IM with that person.  But if I want to address a serious statement to an individual rather than the crowd, then I use IM, for instance, "Would you care to dance".  I honestly don't see much of a difference between the two and I don't separate them in terms of "effectively meeting people".  I meet people how I do.  Sometimes it's in public chat.  Sometimes I address them in private.  Sometimes they address me in private.  *shrugs*  They are all paths to the same end point.... me meeting them.

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4 hours ago, Shansi Kenin said:

Now that Bento is here the 3rd option is talking to everyone in sign language, maybe throw up some gang signs?

my AO doesn't quite throw gangsta but my bento fingers are constantly forming gestures which i quite like

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I don't go to social events as much as I used to when I first joined SL (over 8 years ago), so maybe I'm wrong,  but from what I've experienced I do agree with the OP it seem like less people use public chat now. A culture shift would make sense considering the culture in RL for texting etc. as mentioned in other posts. Whenever I do go somewhere there are other people it is usually silent. I'm sure that when I first joined there was a lot more public chat.

I'm in two minds about that. On the one hand, I get that friends at the same place may want to have a private conversation, so no public chat from them. But on the other hand it does make places seem eerily quiet, and does give a vibe of less interactivity with other people as it seems to say that people don't want to talk to others (probably not be true, just how it feels.)

I do think it's weird if someone starts chatting to you in IM when you don't know them (unless they are using IM 'cos they're not nearby) - I'll tend to be on guard and not very open and friendly if they do that. I would prefer public chat till I know them better. With friends, I'll always use IM in a public place, but either that or public  in my own private space or spaces where are no other people around.

I've noticed also that in the past if I was passing people on my travels and would say a friendly 'hello' I'd get a response back in most cases. Now, hardly ever. Of course people may not see chat because they are busy doing stuff, but I do get the feel that people check public chat less often now.

I do hope that it isn't the case that public chat is becoming 'obsolete'. It would make it harder I think for people to feel like they can strike up conversations and get to know each other, find new friends etc.

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On 10/17/2019 at 7:12 PM, Madelaine McMasters said:

Nevertheless, though I've no idea whether anyone is paying attention to me, other than by what they "say", I still feel a desire to be present in the moment as I want to see it, even if there's little actual reciprocation.

Jumping off of what you and Rolig said, I sort of do the opposite. When I'm inworld and IMing with my closest friends, we're both ourselves, at our computers, typing to a dear friend on the other side of a country or an ocean, somtimes just talking, and sometimes talking as we work on our different projects. It's a different kind of immersion and being present. One friend will tend to give more focused attention when our avatars are both sat in one place, with another it doesn't seem to matter.

Reading everyone's thoughts on all of this has been fascinating. Thank you Scylla for starting the conversation and to everyone who's joined in.

I didn't realise there was so much dislike of introductory IMs. IM has just always been my default for any two-person conversation. It's an old norm I picked up from my first friends and one I never thought to question or examine. I'll try to remember to start in local and then IM if there's no response. Thanks for all of the insights x

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2 hours ago, Bitsy Buccaneer said:

I didn't realise there was so much dislike of introductory IMs. IM has just always been my default for any two-person conversation.

I'm surprised by this as well. Honestly, this has been my norm since the beginning of my experience in SL. That's 16 years. I don't see a culture shift in SL. If there is a culture shift at all, I think it's come from RL into SL. I think as a society it has become much more normal to multitask and as a consequence many of us do more than just talk sitting face to face with anyone. Shoot think about it. What parent could function properly if they couldn't do 15 things at once or deal with more than one child at a time. 

Perhaps the change is simply that those who prefer to do most of their communicating in local have just become aware of the fact that many of us do not.

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25 minutes ago, Blush Bravin said:

I'm surprised by this as well. Honestly, this has been my norm since the beginning of my experience in SL. That's 16 years. I don't see a culture shift in SL. If there is a culture shift at all, I think it's come from RL into SL. I think as a society it has become much more normal to multitask and as a consequence many of us do more than just talk sitting face to face with anyone. Shoot think about it. What parent could function properly if they couldn't do 15 things at once or deal with more than one child at a time. 

Perhaps the change is simply that those who prefer to do most of their communicating in local have just become aware of the fact that many of us do not.

Definitely agree with this. No matter what my approach regarding IM or local with the person I'm right next to inworld, chances are I'll have several other conversations ongoing in IM. The outright hostility to an IM some have shown in this thread is... honestly mindblowing.

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6 minutes ago, AyelaNewLife said:

The outright hostility to an IM some have shown in this thread is... honestly mindblowing.

i wouldn't say I am hostile to it. I just think is weird when somebody is standing in front of me and sends me a IM.  Same when I am with a person RL and my phone dings. And it is them. I just look at them and don't reply, weirdo.  Which is what I do in SL as well, don't reply and think weirdo

when I was 13 I did think it was normal tho to be under by blankets in my bed and txting my friend in the other bed in the same room. Just so that we never got told off for not going to sleep

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So I've followed up since my own comment and it seems, to me anyway, that the main subject focus has shifted. I looked at the subject as a general "which do you prefer in a general sense" and I see a lot of comments leaning toward the specific "introductory" or "Hello" IM. Huh. My impression of the OP discussion (and it's faded memory of what the overall global point is) was that of IM versus open chat in social places.

As context and situation is everything, I'd say the Hello is probably better in IM for a few reasons, the first being that it's clear they are greeting you, especially if in a crowd and extra-especially if it's a chatty crowd. Nevermind the method of "hello" (another debate for other threads). Though I see the angst of some regarding this and I really don't understand it. Now, if it's all quiet in a crowded area, that's when it can be weird to get a hello-IM from someone standing next to you (and when I'll reply in chat) - though if they're out of chat range, I get it: easier to just IM than walk over. Especially when throwing hello-IMs around willy-nilly to see if any stick for a bootycall. LOL

To anyone with actual "Hello-IM" angst issues: There is a setting in Firestorm Privacy tab called "Only friends and groups can IM me" - turn it ON and kwitcherbichen. LOL

Edited by Alyona Su
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31 minutes ago, Mollymews said:

I just think is weird when somebody is standing in front of me and sends me a IM. 

I see this much the same as when I'm talking to someone in RL and because they want to say something to me privately they whisper in my ear instead of saying it aloud to the whole room. Seems rather normal to me and honestly, it could even be considered rude if the person were to announce it publicly.

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1 hour ago, Mollymews said:

i wouldn't say I am hostile to it. I just think is weird when somebody is standing in front of me and sends me a IM.  Same when I am with a person RL and my phone dings. And it is them. I just look at them and don't reply, weirdo.  Which is what I do in SL as well, don't reply and think weirdo

I wouldn't have used the term "weirdo," but I understand the sentiment. It just feels strange.  In RL, I wouldn't grab my phone to talk with someone that I can see. It would feel slightly surreal and, as I have now said twice, I would feel that I was being rude to other people around me.  

 

1 hour ago, AyelaNewLife said:

The outright hostility to an IM some have shown in this thread is... honestly mindblowing.

If you're counting hostile people in this discussion, don't count me.  I'm not hostile about what other people are doing -- OK, I'm a bit bemused -- but I am describing how I feel when I'm in a IM conversation with someone that I can see and why I don't IM nearby people by default.

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2 hours ago, Blush Bravin said:

I see this much the same as when I'm talking to someone in RL and because they want to say something to me privately they whisper in my ear instead of saying it aloud to the whole room. Seems rather normal to me and honestly, it could even be considered rude if the person were to announce it publicly.

I usually see things differently than everyone else, but I too am amazed at how differently I see IMs with people I don't know. I see it the same way as your analogy here, really. I am especially amazed at how weird people find it that someone would IM them in a crowded place; that is when I most tend to use IM if I want to talk to someone in particular. If I want to have a general conversation with the group, I use chat, but if I have something to say that is directed at one person, I will IM them. It sounds like that is very triggering for a lot of people, though, for various reasons ranging from personal safety through views on proper social protocol. But like your analogy, if I want to talk to a group of people IRL, I will talk louder so people can hear me, and if I want to talk with one or two people, I will lower my voice so I don't annoy everyone else and to enable a more private conversation.

OTOH, I used to never initiate IMs, but now it seems almost the only way to get a conversation going most places. In the past I would join in chat and see who engaged with me, and talk to that person. Now, usually noone is talking, and even if you say anything, noone responds. One of the things I miss most about how SL used to be for me is having clubs with music I liked where there was a lot of good conversation. Now, I almost never find a club with music I like, or one with conversation at all, much less something interesting, and I gave up on finding both at one place years ago. So part of the reason I DM people is desperation, lol. Sorry to be one of those annoying people. Perhaps I should just go back to standing there hoping someone IMs *me* like I did for years... :)

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4 minutes ago, Caerolle Llewellyn said:

I usually see things differently than everyone else, but I too am amazed at how differently I see IMs with people I don't know. I see it the same way as your analogy here, really. I am especially amazed at how weird people find it that someone would IM them in a crowded place; that is when I most tend to use IM if I want to talk to someone in particular. If I want to have a general conversation with the group, I use chat, but if I have something to say that is directed at one person, I will IM them. It sounds like that is very triggering for a lot of people, though, for various reasons ranging from personal safety through views on proper social protocol. ...

OTOH, I used to never initiate IMs, but now it seems almost the only way to get a conversation going most places. In the past I would join in chat and see who engaged with me, and talk to that person. Now, usually noone is talking, and even if you say anything, noone responds.... So part of the reason I DM people is desperation, lol. Sorry to be one of those annoying people. Perhaps I should just go back to standing there hoping someone IMs *me* like I did for years... :)

I'm appreciative of this thread and comment like Caerolle - as someone who finds it a bit strange to be IM'd when chat could be used, this thread has opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone sees it that way, and to be a little more open and friendly about such IMs as other's see it as quite normal (not that I'm downright rude, more guarded than anything:) ).

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3 hours ago, Mollymews said:

i wouldn't say I am hostile to it. I just think is weird when somebody is standing in front of me and sends me a IM.  Same when I am with a person RL and my phone dings. And it is them. I just look at them and don't reply, weirdo.  Which is what I do in SL as well, don't reply and think weirdo

For me, an intro IM is more like making eye contact, extending my hand to shake someone else's, or any of the context sensitive things we do to start a conversation with a new person in RL but can't really do in SL. Generally it will be something like a compliment on clothes or something in the person's profile. To say that sort of thing widely, where everyone can hear it, feels out of place to me. So not a phone call by any means, but the sort of quieter conversations which often take place in a larger social gathering.

If IMs are phone calls, where do the smaller conversations happen?

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12 minutes ago, Evangeline Arcadia said:

I'm appreciative of this thread and comment like Caerolle - as someone who finds it a bit strange to be IM'd when chat could be used, this thread has opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone sees it that way, and to be a little more open and friendly about such IMs as other's see it as quite normal (not that I'm downright rude, more guarded than anything:) ).

I too like seeing the different perspectives, Evangeline, and this thread has been great. I hope it came through that I am not criticizing people who don't like 'cold' IMs, I was more trying to say that I probably should be more thoughtful about doing that myself. In the past I never did, because I figured if someone wanted to talk with me, they would, and that they are IMing with someone else, or just want to listen to music and not be bothered. Lately I have become less sure of that; it seems that people are waiting for someone else to start a conversation.

I do try to be careful, I read profiles, and only IM people who seem to perhaps be open to conversation and with whom I may have something in common. And I try to open the IM in a non-threatening, friendly way (I don't even bother with the people whose profile says 'Don't bother IMing "Hi" or "How are you doing tonight?",' which just seem polite, friendly ways to see if someone is interested in talking to me, lol). But I am rethinking all that at this point. I need to go back through and read this thread again, I think...

Edited by Caerolle Llewellyn
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13 minutes ago, Bitsy Buccaneer said:

For me, an intro IM is more like making eye contact, extending my hand to shake someone else's, or any of the context sensitive things we do to start a conversation with a new person in RL but can't really do in SL. Generally it will be something like a compliment on clothes or something in the person's profile. To say that sort of thing widely, where everyone can hear it, feels out of place to me. So not a phone call by any means, but the sort of quieter conversations which often take place in a larger social gathering.

If IMs are phone calls, where do the smaller conversations happen?

I do this a lot, too. I often IM someone just to compliment them on something, then say Bye. I know I like compliments, and assume other people do, too. Plus, it just gets so lonely at places these days, I love when someone says Hi. I generally get a friendly, appreciative response, but perhaps that is just socialization of women to be polite and to accept intrusions on their personal space? (I know I am friendly even to people I don't want to talk to, try to gently brush them off, which often leads to them getting angry in the end: "Why did you waste all my time talking to me like you were interested when you were not going to f--- me?" I had one of those just last night, le sighe...)

Anyhow, I am rethinking this whole approach at this point. A lot to think about...

Edited by Caerolle Llewellyn
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33 minutes ago, Caerolle Llewellyn said:

OTOH, I used to never initiate IMs, but now it seems almost the only way to get a conversation going most places. In the past I would join in chat and see who engaged with me, and talk to that person. Now, usually noone is talking, and even if you say anything, noone responds. One of the things I miss most about how SL used to be for me is having clubs with music I liked where there was a lot of good conversation. Now, I almost never find a club with music I like, or one with conversation at all, much less something interesting, and I gave up on finding both at one place years ago.

Caer's description here in most ways nicely summarizes what I had in mind when I talked about a sort of paradigm shift in the way in which we use local and IM to connect to people. For certainly my first 3 or 4 years in SL, the way it most often seemed to work, at least in the circles within which I moved, was that one moved to IM, where appropriate, after one had engaged, at a much more general and public level, with the larger community (at a club, or social hangout, or store, or whatever). It's not that I dislike IMs -- they are a tool that have a really important and absolutely necessary function -- but rather that that function has changed.

The older way sequence of connecting, from local to IM, made sense to me, and was (and still is) more comfortable. When someone who has been participating in local IMs me, I already have at least some sense of who they, what they are like, what their communication style is, and so forth. And they are presumably IMing me (if they initiated) because something I've said in public interests, or maybe triggers them.

The analogy of "whispering in someone's ear," or speaking in a lower voice, is reasonable, except when that is how first contact is initiated. Imagine yourself in a crowded bar: someone you've heard nothing from, nor had any previous engagement with, comes up to you and whispers in your ear. Or even sits next to you and moves close enough to you that you can hear them speaking in a non-public voice.

That is the way that a cold IM feels to me. Intrusive, uninvited, presumptuous, and maybe even a tiny bit alarming.

Ultimately, this isn't about IM vs. local, nor is it about "good" vs. "bad": we've heard from people here who have apparently always relied on IMs because that is what they are comfortable with, and from a few others who don't even seem to see much of a difference between the two. What it is about is the impact that this shift might have had on sociability in SL.

To me (but evidently not, I'll concede, to everyone here) the leap straight to IM that seems more common these days represents a kind of loss: a loss of community engagement and sociability, as well as, to some extent at least, a kind of intrusion on my personal space. What I'm not hearing is what is gained by skipping local and proceeding directly to a "cold" IM. What are the advantages of this?

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18 minutes ago, Beth Macbain said:

I think the lesson here is to try not to be offended by whatever method someone tries to initiate a conversation because we're all different. 

Instead be offended by the content of the method. 😝

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I am "offended" by someone cold calling me using IM. Were that the case, I'd never meet anyone new.

But I am unquestionably more wary when someone does so, and, in general, less open. On the whole, if you want to connect with me successfully, you're chances are much improved by not taking this approach.

That said, of course, context is everything, and someone IMing me out of the blue in a place where there is no local chat going on, and maybe no else even present, is different than in a more public or social space.

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13 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

Ultimately, this isn't about IM vs. local, nor is it about "good" vs. "bad": we've heard from people here who have apparently always relied on IMs because that is what they are comfortable with, and from a few others who don't even seem to see much of a difference between the two. What it is about is the impact that this shift might have had on sociability in SL.

To me (but evidently not, I'll concede, to everyone here) the leap straight to IM that seems more common these days represents a kind of loss: a loss of community engagement and sociability, as well as, to some extent at least, a kind of intrusion on my personal space.

This is a nice interim summary.  I've found this thread enlightening.  I have often wondered what makes other people think to IM me out of the blue.  Now I understand a bit of it.  I'm not likely to change -- at least not right away -- because IMs at close range still feel a little creepy to me, personally. I will still ignore strangers who send me IMs that are no more than "Hi!" (I do little more than nod and give a brief smile when I get a strange "Hi" in RL.)  I do see why others may feel quite the opposite, though. 

To your underlying question

21 minutes ago, Scylla Rhiadra said:

What I'm not hearing is what is gained by skipping local and proceeding directly to a "cold" IM. What are the advantages of this?

I will be most interested to hear what people say. I can't think of many advantages other than the obvious ("Um... your body alpha is missing ... "), and I'm fairly sure that I would never send a message like that to a total stranger myself anyway.

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