Thursday, March 21, 2013

Instant Messaging

What is it about the New Resident experience that indoctrinates people to think that the primary means of communication in Second Life is the Instant Message?

So I'm laying on a beach, as is often my wont, when up pops an Instant Message from someone who is one meter away from me. We are alone on the beach. He can't say "HI" in Main Chat? Seeing as he was new to Second Life – yet already adult-verfied after just four days in-world so she could be on this beach – I gave him a bit of an etiquette lesson: IMs (to at least a few of us) are like phone calls. You don't stand next to someone in Real Life and phone them to make an acquaintance. Well, maybe if you are on one of those strange bar game things for the really desperate you do. But generally, no. So why do that in Second Life? Goal accomplished: he left me alone.

I was being mostly AFK and didn't want to socialize. Probably should have picked a different location for that, I guess, but nonetheless I wasn't in the mood to chat and the gentleman being a noob, I gave him a pass on it.

Then I received two more IMs. One from clear across the island. This person eventually wandered over and sat on the lounger next to mine. He was an experienced Resident and merely wanted to compliment me on my hair anyway. I think he was an itinerant hair dresser. The second IM was also from an experienced Resident, but he was two meters away at the start and could have very easily said "yr hot bby!" in Main Chat. Sure, it might not have been clear if he had meant me or the guy on the lounger near me, but I think the inference would have carried.

In a third incident, a woman stopped at the foot of my lounger and IMd "MMMMMMMm sexy body." I carried on my part of the conversation in Main Chat. She left without another word in IM or any in Main. Another Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.

These exchanges got me to thinking, though, about that question at the head of this post. I imagine it has to be something from when we are noobs that starts this behavior. I know in most of the training areas there is often a "station" or "learning module" about Instant Messages, but these tutorials also cover Main Chat. Is it something that happens afterward? I wish I knew.

Perhaps I'm overly sensitive because in Real Life I don't use "Main Chat" to "talk." My use of Sign Language or writing on my iPad is rather like the more personal IM format of Second Life. But I want to "talk in Main" like others do. Maybe my jealousy is spilling into SL. Maybe after almost seven years here I'm the one out of synch with the way Our World should work. In any case, I still want to know  what it is that starts people into this pattern of using IMs instead of talking openly.


Deoridhe said...

I think it varies a lot, actually. I tend to IM people rather than talk in open chat because people oftend on't follow open chat - including me! I've had a few embarrassing times when someone has complemented me, I've teleported away, then I've looked back for some reason and seen them talking to me and have IMed them to appologize for seeming to ignore them.

Now I'm thinking of how I would approach someone I want to talk to... but I so rarely do that! Usually, conversations with strangers are in a group and about a shared experience, like complaining about lucky chairs turning up a mountain of Zes or something.

S'far as I know, though, the new user experience teaches them exactly nothing.

Uccello Poultry said...

Good points, Deoridhe. And I see many Profiles that read "I don't pay attention to local chat so hit me up in IM" (or something to that effect). My wife usually chats with me in IM even if we are alone and it gets confusing. The new CHUI window thing might make it even worse for me.