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VFF (Virtual Friends Forever)

August 11, 2007

Regardless of whatever other opportunities may exist, Second Life is primarily a social networking tool (feel free to argue against this if you must). Even if you like to build, make clothes, or gamble (suddenly feel like Vint), what brings the majority of us back are the relationships we’ve formed in world. That’s why SL blogs frequently cover relationship topics. They’re issues that are of interest to most SL users.

A few nights ago, my friend Dirk posed the question, “How many people on your friends list do you think you would be friends with in RL?” Since my relationships with other SL users are what keeps bringing me back, it would seem that my answer would be most, if not all of them. I opened my friends list and looked through the names of those online. Out of eight people, I had to be honest and say, “two.”

But why two? These are people who are on my friends list. Doesn’t it seem that these relationships should carry over into RL?

I guess one reason—which has actually been discussed recently on Veyron’s blog—is that our friends list is not necessarily comprised entirely of friends. Mostly, it seems to be used as an acquaintance or contact list, so not only do friends populate our lists, but mixed in are people we might want to contact later or people who offered us friendship that we didn’t want to decline.

I believe it goes beyond this, though. I think there is a distance element that factors into SL and online friendships that perhaps widens the scope of whom one considers a friend. There really isn’t much of an investment in making an online friend. Of course, there is an investment in developing that relationship, but for how many of these relationships do we put forth that effort?

Maybe this isn’t so different from how many people manage their RL friendships. It’s not how I generally handle mine, though.

In the comments section of a post on Tiana’s blog, Zoe asked, “Is it possible to love in SL?” I guess my question is, is it possible to form RL friendships in SL—friendships that transcend the virtual world? For some reason, even though I think it’s possible, I’m more inclined to think they don’t transfer as readily into RL as we might think or like to believe.

Hmm . . . given my last two posts, I’m thinking of claiming dinee’s abandoned title of Cynical Second Life for my own blog 🙂

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6 comments

  1. I tend to think of my friends list as being made up of those who are truly friends (regardless of which world they are in), those who I like enough at first meeting (or via Flickr and blogs) to have the potential to be true friends if I get the chance to spend more time with them … I include you towards the top of this sublist by the way ;o) … and those that fall into neither category, as customers, business contacts and so on.

    It would be nice to be able to label them with colours or something, friends, potential friends and contacts. It would also be nice to select which “friends” trigger that little blue box when they log in.


  2. honestly i try not to think about things like that, sl and rl are so diferent in the manner of friendship and social interaction. i could say theres people i think i would get along with in friend life and end up not happening. we all adapt to our sl environment in diferent ways. it would be hard to really know who i would get along with irl.


  3. Thanks, Wolf 🙂 We really should hang out in world sometime when I’m back on broadband!

    Tiana: My RL and SL are much different as well, and I’m comfortable with keeping them separate, though the boundaries occasionally get blurred. I guess it just seemed strange to me that there are people with whom I’ve shared time and experiences in SL that I probably wouldn’t have in RL.


  4. Well I know I’ve found several people I believe I could be true friends with on SL, or through blogs… Or both as the case may be… And I think it would carry over to RL if I chose to let it and if they lived near enough to make that reasonable…

    I did however have a friend I made online nearly a decade ago who stayed my best friend SL & RL for years… Until we finally lost touch a few years ago… So it’s not like the idea is new to me.

    Btw Chloe you are one of the people I think would make a good friend to, having more than a bit in common.But the whole lack of broadband hurts that…


  5. Sorry, Streets; you didn’t really make the cut. You’re on my “to be deleted” list. I think I’m cleaning that one out this Thursday.


  6. Shadow: Yeah, I absolutely hate how broadband is limiting me right now. It’s like once I lost it, I started talking to people through blogs and Flickr that I would like to meet in world. *So* frustrating . . .

    We’ll have to meet up when I get a good connection again 🙂 We did *almost* get to meet at the blogger party :/

    Dirk: It’s OK, buddy. I had been meaning to tell you, but I already removed you from my list. I couldn’t take it anymore. You just suck too much :p



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