But most of these new “friends” never call me again. Quite a few have looked around and decided Second Life is not for them. Others have just moved on with their Second Lives (as they should) and no longer need to call their poor old teacher.
As a result, I regularly purge my Friends list. If you are on it, and suddenly find yourself dropped, please don’t get mad! If you really want to stay on my list, just IM me and ask, and I will put you back.
Adding a Friend is very easy, technically speaking. Just open a person’s Profile, or right click their avatar, and select Add Friend. If they accept your request, you’re Friends. But…are you friends, as well as Friends?
Last night, my fellow greeter Indeterminate Schism and I were handling a rush of newcomers at Caledon Oxbridge. Along with questions, Friends offers were flying thick and fast. Inde had some things to say about SL Friendship that I thought were worth repeating here (I’ll paraphrase, Inde…and if I misstate your views, the fault’s mine.)
The Friends List isn’t good for much more than giving you a notification when someone logs in or out of Second Life. So here is something to ask yourself – If you see a friend has come on line, do you usually call them? Does your face light up when you see that “Lindal Kidd is On Line” message? If not, ask yourself: Do you really want/need this person on your Friends list? If you really want to talk to anyone in SL, having them on your list is just a minor convenience. It’s nearly as easy to open Search, and look them up in the phonebook.
If you have people whose names you can’t remember in your Friends list, ask yourself why. Why is this person, whom you can’t remember and don’t speak to, cluttering up your Second Life?*
Or, on a slightly darker note, how many of your Friends only call you up to use you? To cry on your shoulder, burden you with Drama, send you a TP request to come vote for them in a club contest, or otherwise suck away your time for their benefit? Do you have any Time Vampires on your list? Are you yourself a Time Vampire?
I am skeptical of this whole FaceBook-inspired concept of the Instant Friend. One of the reasons I dislike most social networking sites is all those unsolicited Friends requests I get from them. Gosh, HooberHeaver, who the hell are you, why are you in my Inbox, and why on earth should I be your Friend?
Are we keeping score? Are social network Friends lists an item of competition? Do people at cocktail parties one-up each other? “Oh, that’s nothing, darling! I was at a thousand Friends on FB two years ago!” I think some people must be doing that. I’ve had newbies run past me at full speed, leaving only a Friendship request in their wake. Hey, if you won’t even stop long enough to say hello, what kind of a friend ARE you?
How many of our online friends are REAL friends? People we share our lives with? People we call to gleefully inform them of our triumphs, and on whom we rely to give us sympathy and comfort when we suffer a setback? How many of your multitude of FaceBookFriends would invite you to spend the night if you told them you were in town? How many of them would you invite to YOUR house? Would you trust any of them with money? (I’m happy to say that in some cases I have trusted an online friend with money, or they have done me the honor of trusting me with theirs. So it’s not merely a case of “this friend is a real world friend, that one is an online one and doesn’t matter.”)
As I told one newbie who kept insisting that I “add him”, it’s no insult NOT to accept a friends request. It’s possible to be friendly without being on somebody’s List. And, frankly, I get the feeling that this obsession with being the Friend of everyone alive and having the database to prove it is doing serious damage to the concept of real friendship.
So – I’m happy to meet you, stranger! No, hold that Friends request, please, until we’ve known each other a week, or a month. Call me if you need me, I’m in the book.
*Besides the social aspects, there’s system performance to consider. A very large Friends list will slow down your teleports and may make them unreliable. I try to keep mine under 200. I know people who trim their lists if they get over forty.