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SL friends: how much are they real to you?


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Throughout the years, time after time, I have been lucky enough to meet some great people inworld or in these forums. Some have become cherished friends (they'll recognise themselves :smileywink:). They are just as real to me as people I know in RL, and sometimes even more real and more caring. Being a loner in a big city is one of the reasons that made me join SL and I truly consider my friends here with genuine love and tenderness. Loosing one of them can be heartbreaking. Feeling their presence and their affection is just pure bliss.

What about you? How much "real' are your friends? How much can you get emotionally involved in SL friendships and go beyond the pixels, or how much DON'T you and why?

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I have seen a handful of people from Second Life in First Life, though the majority of people I find just can't make that leap. Some SL friends I have had, over the years, have been really good friends and others well... some people just like drama for drama's sake lol.

I do think that SL can only take it so far, however. I think that if you are friends/lovers but fear to talk face to face, then the relationship is most likely not as strong as those involved would like to believe.

 

/shrug.

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..in SL we can, if we wish, expose our personalities as well as bring our best aspects to the fore.  In RL this is not always possible.  Perhaps it is the lack of risk in SL..or the opportunity to "control" how much we become involved, but whateever it ismy SL friends are among the closest that I have. Granted, only four so far have earned my RL trust,  But thse four are treasures.

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i have some wonderful friends in here that I cherish as much as RL friends.  Some I've known for years now.  Unfortunately, circumstances don't allow us to meet face to face for various very valid reasons.  Distance being the chief among them.  However given the opportunity I would not hesitate to get together in RL.

Being able to meet and form real friendships with people all over the world has enriched my life immeasurably, not only by the friendships,  but also exposure to the many different cultures, opinions and the experiences i have had.  I would never have had the pleasure of knowing some of my SL friends but for SL.  It is one of the things I love the most about our virtual world.

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Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

  I would never have had the pleasure of knowing some of my SL friends but for SL.  It is one of the things I love the most about our virtual world.

I think it is THE thing I love most about it. I've said that many times. I came here for a reason; the idea of forming friendships was the farthest thing from my mind. I never even thought about it. After a year I was well aware that those friendships are the main reason I am still here.

/waves to Val

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This, the "lack of risk", is the very reason I don't understand why someone would want to keep all their SL relationships as just SL. Life is ABOUT risk, over coming the fear that says "but they won't like me" or "something could go wrong".

 

Everything is a chance, so I figure why not meet it head on?

 

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It's an odd subject for me as I'm still fairly new to SL and didn't come here to network! But last night when one of my SL friends announced he was leaving SL forever, I suddenly felt I would miss him. It struck something in me and I began to wonder, have I been sucked in to the SL experience? Apparently I have. I realised that the time I spend in SL is with him and that's what makes it fun. It's not about the graphics, the user interface, the sims, the clothes (although they all certainly help), it's the people we interact with and the people we choose to left click and 'add friend'.

I'll genuinely miss you my friend - you know who you are.

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Friends are people who are there for you when you need them, people whose address and phone number is known to you. Friends stick with you through everything and take an interest in every part of your real life. They offer you a real, physical shoulder to cry on and give you a real, physical hug when you badly need one.

Friends occasionally drop by for a visit and chat with you you face to face. They help carry the furniture when you move to a new place. They even lend you some money if you find yourself in a tight spot. Friends are the people who are willing to visit your wedding and attend your funeral.

None of this applies to the anonymous people that we meet in SL. Usually, we don't even know their RL name and have no way of contacting them outside of SL. And I know from past experience in other MMOs that when SL is about to float belly up, all supposed friends will go their separate ways and probably never see each other again.

So unless I had a close relationship with somebody in both worlds, I would not consider them a real friend. What happens in SL is friendship RP, just like romantic relationships and SL marriages are just RP. Real friendships involve real flesh and blood people.

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Are the people playing SL not flesh and blood? It broke my heart when people I had come to think of as friends would leave never to be heard from again. In a place like this, where all you know is what happens when they're logged in, never seeing them again is tantamount to death. After awhile, I got sick of mourning lost friends, so I crossed over. Now my friends are offered my email at the very least.

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First: Not everyone on my friendlist here in SL is someone who I would call a friend, cause I use it often just as an option to stay in contact with some people I talked to.

But I also have found some people I would call real friends, cause I talk with them like with my friends in the real world. And of course, it would hurt me, if they stop talking to me. I can't see them when I talk to them, but that doesn't make our relationships less real and its definitly not RP (as Ish would said). It would be roleplay, if I would talk from the view of a character I created. Instead of that I may tell how my day was and what I plan to do at the weekend and so on. :matte-motes-big-grin-wink:

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I see people come to SL for many reasons.  They also stay or leave for many reason.  AND, while motivations may change, we all get something different from the interaction.  Ishtara, I agree with you totaly, in theory.  If this is how you "role play" SL, I hope your friends play the same way.  But for many of us, it is different.  

My SL friends are there when I need them.  I can and have contacted offline friends who get the email they have received an offline message and login just to talk to me.  Similar to leaving a voice mail and getting a call back.  Sure the shoulders and hugs are not physical, but they can be just as helpful.

We may not have face to face interaction, but I have helped friends build something, find something, etc.  I have loaned L$ before.  I have introduced people who become friends and morned friends who leave SL.  

I know most of my friends RL names, at least first names.  I think with many of them, if SL were to go "belly up", we would stay in contact via email, IM, or forums.  Very much like pen pals.  Even though the relationship is not physical, they are relationships none the less.

I agree with your last paragraph that romantic relationships and marrige are role play as those intimate encounters do require physical contact, but I also believe that real friendships can exist without the physical.

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Taylor Roff wrote:

I know most of my friends RL names, at least first names.  I think with many of them, if SL were to go "belly up", we would stay in contact via email, IM, or forums.  Very much like pen pals.  Even though the relationship is not physical, they are relationships none the less.

I agree with your last paragraph that romantic relationships and marrige are role play as those intimate encounters do require physical contact, but I also believe that real friendships can exist without the physical.

I couldn't agree more with your statement, Taylor. As for "marriage" role play, I have been partenered for 3 years with a wonderful man with a beautiful soul. We dont RP SL sex and our relationship has always been the tender platonic kind. We French call that "une amitié amoureuse". It's all about mental complicity and verbal exchanges. I am sure this is why our couple lasts.

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UncommonTruth wrote:

Are the people playing SL not flesh and blood? It broke my heart when people I had come to think of as friends would leave never to be heard from again. In a place like this, where all you know is what happens when they're logged in, never seeing them again is tantamount to death. After awhile, I got sick of mourning lost friends, so I crossed over. Now my friends are offered my email at the very least.

There certainly are real flesh and blood people behind the avatars, but one usually never gets to know them. And as you said yourself, one day they up and leave and you never hear from them again. At that point, you find yourself without any contact information, and the person might as well have been an NPC in a MMORPG. Even if you exchange email addresses, you still don't have any idea who the other person really is. 

 

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Taylor Roff wrote:

I see people come to SL for many reasons.  They also stay or leave for many reason.  AND, while motivations may change, we all get something different from the interaction.  Ishtara, I agree with you totaly, in theory.  If this is how you "role play" SL, I hope your friends play the same way.  But for many of us, it is different.  

I don't really role play every aspect of SL. I only RP actions, not emotions. If I hang out with somebody, I'm entirely myself and really enjoy and value their company. And if long-time acquaintances suddenly don't log in anymore, I'm genuinely concerned. However, at that point I realize that my friendship with them was just make-belief, because I have no way of contacting them and no idea what might be going on in their RL. An RL that I don't know anything about.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Many people (including myself) play SL, or outright live in SL, because it allows us to keep a certain physical and emotional distance to the people we interact with. We constantly advise one another that it's unwise to give out personal information or arrange RL meetups. After all, one never knows if one's best friend or SL spouse is a deranged stalker or an axe murderer. We only like and love as long as they don't get too close and can easily be switched off. It is this distance and anonymity that reduces SL friendships to mere RP, no matter how real they might feel while they last (which is a rather short time in my experience).

The best friend that I've had in SL went off to play Vanguard. She invited me to join her there, but I didn't level up fast enough to keep up with her. She made new friends among the more serious gamers, found a guild, and never returned to SL or bothered to contact me again. The SL stage of her online life was over, and I was nothing but a protagonist in her SL gaming experience. Both MMOs and the people that we meet there are exchangeable, and as we lose interest in the games, we also drift apart from the players. 

I've also made many friends in SWG and Sociolotron, but with one exception I've lost contact with all of them when those online communities broke apart. The one person from those days that I still occasionally chat with shows up on yahoo once or twice a month. If I happen to be in a bad mood or depressed, he usually logs out again pretty fast. It's so easy to manage our social experience in online environments and click that little X in the upper right corner in case things start to get boring, or too dramatic and real.

How often have you heard SL residents say that they avoid drama like the pest? People use MMOs and other social online platforms to unwind and have a good time. If they don't find your company rewarding, they might as well excuse themselves and see what's on TV. Complain about being switched off like a kitchen appliance, and you're a drama queen in their eyes. Try to contact someone who only wants to switch you on when it is convenient for them, and you're also labeled a stalker. 

That's why none of this is real, no matter how real the person at the keyboard is that you'll usually never get to know. In RL, people depend on one another, but online relationships are ultimately superficial and inconsequential. I've learned to accept that, because I, too, reserve the right to manage my online experience and switch people off if they bother me.

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Syo Emerald wrote:

First: Not everyone on my friendlist here in SL is someone who I would call a friend, cause I use it often just as an option to stay in contact with some people I talked to.

But I also have found some people I would call real friends, cause I talk with them like with my friends in the real world. And of course, it would hurt me, if they stop talking to me. I can't see them when I talk to them, but that doesn't make our relationships less real and its definitly not RP (as Ish would said). It would be roleplay, if I would talk from the view of a character I created. Instead of that I may tell how my day was and what I plan to do at the weekend and so on. :matte-motes-big-grin-wink:

Exactly :matte-motes-smile:

 

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Bandito Razor wrote:

This, the "lack of risk", is the very reason I don't understand why someone would want to keep all their SL relationships as just SL. Life is ABOUT risk, over coming the fear that says "but they won't like me" or "something could go wrong".

 

Everything is a chance, so I figure why not meet it head on? 

Because there are more emotionally baggaged, neurotic, or outright crazy individuals in places like SL than in any RL environment save for a psychiatry ward (I'm one of those crazies myself, so I'm allowed to say that :) ). And one can't really gauge people and their behavioral oddities unless one meets them eye to eye, supposing that they're capable of looking you in the eye and don't just stare at their shoes or at the wall behind you while they feverishly scratch their arms to get rid of all those imaginary spiders.

The guy who mutters to himself in the streets, wears a bobble hat lined with aluminum foil and collects dead pigeons in his freezer can appear completely normal in a text-based environment. That makes meeting an SL acquaintance a much higher risk than going on a date with someone who you've already met in person, lives in the same town or is acquainted with one of your friends, and has a known history of taking regular showers and not trying to strangle people with a toaster extension cord.

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Good Side

I had made lots of good friends in sl, and i always ask a friend to hang out. one of them name coya. Me and her almost hang out everday since when i have not much to do than stand in a sandbox all day or go see a friend of mines Carmen whoda performer when she sings.

 

Bad Side

The bad one is the guy who used to be my friend on steam (created by valve) told me about SL and bring me here although a few months later, friendship starts to break down and mostly left SL and all firends behind and only cared about his mate than both. But still if it was not for him I would not be here right now.

 

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