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Saturday, May 21, 2011

(Second) Life's Embarrassing Moments

SL provides endless opportunities for making a fool of yourself. If you are going to spend time here, you WILL have embarrassing moments! It’s not something that is limited to newbies; even experienced residents have our “oopses”.  Have you done something dumb lately? Gawd, sister, you’re not alone. Here are some of mine.

A Word in the Wrong Ear. I often have several IM windows open at the same time, plus local chat. I know very busy people who may have as many as twenty conversations going at once. I don’t know how they do it, I get overloaded at about four or five. But switching between all those windows can be tricky. It’s especially hazardous when you are talking to Person A about Person B…and talking to Person B at the same time. Just hypothetically, let’s say I am listening to my friend Gina’s latest tale of Romance Gone Wrong with one ear, and making appropriate sympathetic noises. I am talking to my partner at the same time…and I make some exasperated comment to her like, “omg, that Gina is a Drama Queen”. When the indignant reply “what the hell is that supposed to mean?” comes back, I look twice. Whoops…I said that to Gina, not my partner! Sigh…Friends List down by one.

The funniest one of these I can remember happened to my friend Brianna (name changed here to protect her privacy). She posted a very hot chat emote in a very well-attended public group chat – something about an overwhelming and seemingly never-ending succession of orgasms. The laughter didn’t die down for twenty minutes. She took it like a trouper, though. Stood her ground and gave back as good as she got.

Leg Spasms. Here is another frequent one. When your cursor is in a text window, such as chat or IM, and you type the letter “e”, it means “e”. But, when the main viewer window has the focus, typing “e” means “make my avatar jump”. So once in a while when I am talking to someone, I may suddenly leap up into the air for no apparent reason.

Live Microphone. Leg spasms and text in the wrong window are my boo-boos, because text is how I communicate in SL. Voice users have their own set of problems. One of your voice options is “push to talk in toggle mode”. Normally, your microphone is only on if you are holding the push to talk key (whichever key you’ve told the viewer to use for this, or the on-screen gadget you hold down with your mouse). When you release the key, the microphone turns off. But in “toggle mode”, the microphone stays live until you click the key a second time. Lots of people forget to do this, and you are treated to their side conversations in RL, or you get to listen in to the TV or radio station they have playing, or you hear them muttering to themselves, or eating a snack.

Honey, I Deleted the House. One time, I was demonstrating object properties to some friends…showing them how a cube could be phantom, or physical. We were sitting on my partner’s sky platform, about 3,000 meters above the ground. Finishing my demonstration, I clicked on my cube and deleted it. But I missed the cube and selected the platform by mistake. Suddenly, we were all falling through space, and I was forced to listen to snide remarks about “Linnie, the expert builder.”

Another time I did this in an even more embarrassing way. A friend was getting married at a pavilion I’d built over the water. I had decorated the pavilion for the occasion, including a carpet of rose petals. As the guests were gathering, I decided to re-do the rose petals at the last minute. Again I selected the wrong thing – I deleted most of the pavilion, dumping all the guests into the ocean. (Luckily, I had a spare copy of it in my inventory, and put it back quickly. The wedding took place on time.)

Wardrobe Malfunction. Janet Jackson was a piker. Once, I had just acquired a new toy…a lipstick and compact that would, when worn, play a “touch up your makeup” animation. I was walking through a crowded shopping mall, and thought I would show all the other avatars what a cool, sophisticated, talented Second Life user I was. So I opened my inventory and found my lipstick. But instead of clicking “Wear”, or “Add to Oufit”, I clicked “Replace Outfit”. BOOM! Suddenly I am bald! I’m naked! And I’m standing in the middle of a crowd, touching up my lipstick. (I still have that toy, but I don’t think I have used it since.)

Practical Jokes. Sometimes, it’s not something you do to yourself, but something someone else does to you. I was at Orientation Island one night, helping newcomers. Someone gave me an animation called “superdance”. “What a friendly thing to do”, I thought. To show my gratitude, I played the animation. Suddenly, my avatar deformed into a fifteen foot tall stick figure, with arms and legs sticking out in unlikely places. I had to re-log to get rid of the deformation. You might think the lesson here is “don’t accept gifts from strangers”, but that’s not it. You should be cautious about gifts, sure. Some of the surprises you can get can be really nasty…like an object that can, if you grant it the debit permission it asks for, empty all the money from your $L account. But usually, people give you things in a friendly and helpful spirit. No, the lesson here is really “Sometimes you are going to fall for it, kiddo. When you do, try to stay cool and take it in stride”.

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