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SL friends: how much are they real to you?


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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

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.



Ishy, I think friendships fall along a spectrum like a lot of other things. I have childhood and college friends that went their own ways and I never saw again. One of them is in prison for behavior that shocked me. If it were so easy to detect devils face-to-face, would we need security checkpoints? Yes, I know Israel's security agents can see better than the rest of us, but we didn't all get their training.

When I switched jobs I left a lot of friends behind. I don't expect any of them will attend my funeral. I've friends I met professionally online that have helped me solve engineering problems I'd have struggled with alone, help far more valuable than moving a sofa. I have known some of them longer, and in greater depth, than many I've worked with in RL. We could bridge the gap and connect in RL, but it's seldom seemed necessary.

At the end of my day, a friend is someone who caringly shares time and intellectual space with me to an extent that rises above "acquaintance". They needn't provide every kind of support I might need, but they offer what support they can. An hour of someone's time spent with me online is a real life hour. If I devalue that, then I must devalue my own time. I am certain I've spent hours with RL friends that were not as enriching to me as some of the hours I've spent with people online.

Friendships can be ephemeral, whether online or offline. I am well aware of the missing cues of remote relationships, but I don't think that negates friendship, it simply colors it a little differently. So I'll have friends all along the spectrum and hope that I never go without. I'm not going to dismiss all but those who attended my wedding and will cry over my ashes. Though I should have dismissed one who came to my wedding. The stains never did come out of the dress.

;-)

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Ishtara Rothschild wrote:

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.

 

I like this reply. Not only because it's so very true about SL, but also because it shows off the attitude one has to have to survive wading though SLs high percentage of wierdos and freaks.

As for the OP, my SL friends are as real as RL friends get, but they are not as real life as RL friends get. I cherish them both in exactly the same ways, but I keep my SL friends (as well as many other things I'm involved with in SL) apart from my RL.

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I’d challenge the idea that to qualify as a friend, you have to be concretely available to help move house. To my mind, it’s sufficient to be willing to lend such support, whether or not it’s factually possible. We don’t always reside in the same area as our RL friends for the full course of our lives, which might make popping in for coffee, packing crates and offering paper tissues impossible on the spur of the moment even between the dearest of old pals.

Having said that, if we never ever manage to organise face-to-face meetings, I’d assume that even the oldest, dearest RL friendship had run its course. No tragedy in that – people do grow apart – it’s a fact of life. Therefore, to insist on calling a “true” friend a person you not only have never met, but have no intention of attempting to meet, or even just genuinely wish you could meet, had you the money and time (the only factors which stop me seeing distant old friends as regularly as I’d like), is, I feel, an exercise in self-illusion.

Since a whole load of the most superficial of acquaintances and work-related contacts know my full real name and my e-mail address, I’m not entirely convinced that my SL friends knowing my real first name or e-mail address is any sort of indicator of deep friendship. My “true” SL friends know my full real name, postal address, skype number, e-mail address and I have/would/will met/meet them in RL without hesitation. So, if one or both SL pals conceal RL data of the sort which is commonly known by RL friends (phone number, surname, address, etc.) then I’d agree that what’s actually going on is what somebody (Ishtara?) in the thread called “role-playing friendship”.

Holding back because you suspect your “bestie” is a raving lunatic is, indeed, the wisest of moves, but has to be recognised as a sign that the friendship is truly not on the same level as those in RL whom you can invite round for coffee without worrying that they plant an axe in your back when you turn to put the kettle on.

(PS Sorry, Valerie, I responded to you but my answers were directed all over the place to points I saw in different posts)

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Dude, if after talking to someone on SL for 2+ years, if you can't get past the fact they scratch their arms or don't look people in the eyes (Hey, they can capture my soul) or the fact they wear a tin hat....

Well, it wasn't a good strong friendship to begin with.

 

I mean hell, one person I recently met in RL from SL is a Tea Party member. If I can over look THAT, I can easily over look the dead birds in the freezer :P

 

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Carole Franizzi wrote:

I’d challenge the idea that to qualify as a friend, you have to be concretely available to help move house. To my mind, it’s sufficient to be willing to lend such support, whether or not it’s factually possible. We don’t always reside in the same area as our RL friends for the full course of our lives, which might make popping in for coffee, packing crates and offering paper tissues impossible on the spur of the moment even between the dearest of old pals.

Having said that, if we never ever manage to organise face-to-face meetings, I’d assume that even the oldest, dearest RL friendship had run its course. No tragedy in that – people do grow apart – it’s a fact of life. Therefore, to insist on calling a “true” friend a person you not only have never met, but have no intention of attempting to meet, or even just genuinely wish you could meet, had you the money and time (the only factors which stop me seeing distant old friends as regularly as I’d like), is, I feel, an exercise in self-illusion.

Since a whole load of the most superficial of acquaintances and work-related contacts know my full real name and my e-mail address, I’m not entirely convinced that my SL friends knowing my real first name or e-mail address is any sort of indicator of deep friendship. My “true” SL friends know my full real name, postal address, skype number, e-mail address and I have/would/will met/meet them in RL without hesitation. So, if one or both SL pals conceal RL data of the sort which is commonly known by RL friends (phone number, surname, address, etc.) then I’d agree that what’s actually going on is what somebody (Ishtara?) in the thread called “role-playing friendship”.

Holding back because you suspect your “bestie” is a raving lunatic is, indeed, the wisest of moves, but has to be recognised as a sign that the friendship is truly not on the same level as those in RL whom you can invite round for coffee without worrying that they plant an axe in your back when you turn to put the kettle on.

(PS Sorry, Valerie, I responded to you but my answers were directed all over the place to points I saw in different posts)

This is what I was trying to say, only you were able to say it. :matte-motes-smile:

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Carole Franizzi wrote:

 “true” friend

Well Carole, doesn't the passive agression of this cliche reveal it to be nonsense? That the heck are false friends? Friendship isn't an is/isn't thing, it comes in colors and flavors and we're hopefully smart enough to arrange the palette for our general wellbeing.

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Bandito Razor wrote:

Wouldnt false friends be people who PRETEND to be your friend while being a douche behind your back?

That makes sense. In that case, I have to rethink my previous statements. According to your definition, all of my RL friends have been false friends, much unlike my SL friends (as far as I can tell anyway).

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I make no mystery I am seriously ill in RL, Ishy. The most amazing thing is that I get more care, tenderness and support from my SL friends than from the RL ones (who are very few and most of them colleagues, more worried about my ability to remain performant at work than about my chemio and scanners...). Ironically, it has been my disease which made me realize how much my SL friends are real to me. They help me keeping on walking on the sunny side of the street and I have no words to say how much I am grateful for that. :smileyhappy:

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valerie Inshan wrote:

I make no mystery I am seriously ill in RL, Ishy. The most amazing thing is that I get more care, tenderness and support from my SL friends than from the RL ones (who are very few and most of them colleagues, more worried about my ability to remain performant at work than about my chemio and scanners...). Ironically, it has been my disease which made me realize how much my SL friends are real to me. They help me keeping on walking on the sunny side of the street and I have no words to say how much I am grateful for that. :smileyhappy:

My most heartfelt best wishes to you, Valerie. An immense hug to you.

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Thank you Carole, your kind words are appreciated more than you can imagine. Whether I'm right or wrong to believe in these friendships, whether they last or not, I badly need them now. And your lovely post is another reason to hang on. An immense hug to you too. Thanks. I'll be here for a long time posting rubbish, believe me! I have a reputation to maintain here.

ETA: and being French, how could I not love your sig. Paul Valéry was a giant. You're a peach (a culttivated peach!)

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As I said, Valerie, whenever I have felt that an SL friend was real, I’ve treated them as such and have never worried that they turn up on my doorstep with an axe in their hand. Obviously, we’re talking about a very limited number of people – but then, not many of us make a dozen new friends a week in RL either. I’ve met a couple of people from SL and, God willing, if the circumstances allow it, I will hopefully meet others, as I firmly believe that you can meet total gems in the oddest of places. There are some people I’d actually love to meet and would jump at the chance, including several forumites, although in a couple of cases, it would be in to have the pleasure of beating them over the head with a rolled up newspaper. If my finances and time permitted a more jet-setting lifestyle, believe me, I’d like nothing better to come and give you that hug in person and then sip a cafe’ au lait with you at a bar on the Rive Gauche. Or any rive, for that matter. As long as it was French. And chic.

Having said that, there are several I wouldn’t meet even if accompanied by a 10-man armed guard. Take that Eloise Baily, for example. There’s something very shifty about her. I suspect she really is an axe-maniac thingy….

à toi, ta santé, et tes postes...mwah!

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valerie Inshan wrote:

Dito, Carole. That's what I said: vous êtes la crême de la crême! God bless you! And damn this Atlantic ocean! Let's pretend we're having a café in Saint Germain des Prés... Hugs you!

 

Atlantic Ocean??? ATLANTIC OCEAN???? Oh my God, you think I'm an American!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *faints*

(i'm not quite so far away, actually...just a bit of a drive and the English Channel. Pardon. La Manche.)

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I'm sorry to hear that Valerie, you've officialy been added to my prayers. I'll get in line for my hug behind Carole, if you dont mind random hugs from strangers. I hope none of the hugging and praying have offended you, I'll refrain from the hug if you'd rather. The other, well, to late.

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Bandito Razor wrote:

Hey, some of us Americans kick ass thank you
^_^
Just.. you know none of the ones in power....v . v

 

I rather like the one who's in power, actually...

Doesn't mean I'd give up my actual citizenship to be American...or anything else, truth be told. I quite like being what I am. In my next life, however, I intend coming back as French. The accent is soooo sexy....

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I just love the fact that SL allows us to meet people from all over the world.  Often, I am talking to someone and just assume they are right here in my time zone in my country.  It is amazing to find out as we talk that they are half way around the world.  Politics be damned, we are in this life, SL and RL, together!

Oh yeah, Google translate is a wonderful tool.  I had a very nice conversation (although a little difficult) with a Portuguese speaking person in Brazil.  What fun!

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