Second Life Pet Peev #2: The “Friendship” list

Gentle reader:

I understand that we are all new at some point, and that you want to offer someone a self-esteem boost for the day, and so it’s natural that when you see a button that says “Offer friendship” it’s an instinctive thing. I totally understand.

The Truth about Second Life Friendship list: It is, generally speaking, a dark evil whose name is a lie. A better name for the “friendship” list is “Trackable, Traceable, Pounceable Contact List”. I think of it more as “The Stalker Intelligence Gathering Function”. It makes it so that you can see each time someone logs on or off, or can find them on the map and just kind of show up–whether you have asked or not.

The friendship list is a “live” list of business cards. Think of it this way: Offering friendship is like asking for someone’s personal home number, there’s a time, place and way to do it. When you accept someone’s friendship, you automatically get their calling card anyway, so the only difference is the “real time information” aspect. When you meet someone new, consider instead of offering your card (Right click -> More… -> Offer card)

Put another way: The friendship list is a Buddy List. Same as MSN, Yahoo or other such chat programs. Now, we’ve known each other for less than 1 hour and you want to be on my buddy list why?

Some background:

I’m a newcomer helper at New Citizens International, a pretty female and generally speaking, a nice enough person. This means that with all sincerity, if I’ve had an active week of helping newcomers and have been socially active, I can literally get from 5 to 10 friendship offers in a day, especially when I work in groups. Let’s multiply that by 3 days a week times 50 weeks. At the least, it means I get offered “friendship” 750 times per year. See where I’m going with this? That is more than can see in one 19 inch screenful.

When I’m offered “friendship” I’m put in an inconvenient postition: I can accept, but then I get pounced on by 20 IMs every time I log on. I haven’t finished rezzing that BING BING! My screen scrolls with IMs. And that’s OK, but then, people expect you to answer an IM. That takes a fair bit of time. And I haven’t finished rezzing yet…

I can turn down your offer of friendship with a simple click of the decline button. But then, since you think “friendship” means “I like you” and I decline, you might interpret it as “I don’t like you”. So, in self-preservation, I end up hurting your feelings, even when I don’t mean to. Now that means that either a) you will politely, but in hurt tones ask me why I don’t like you or b) I get my head ripped off because you’ve taken it personally and have decided that the correct response is call me all kind of names that I won’t print here. More than one nasty has been ejected by my ever watchful friends and land officers for having chosen this path.

So, my latest strategy has been to quietly–nay–meekly, accept your offer, leaving you to feel good, and once a week, if you are logged off to simply remove your name from my list. It’s not personal, it’s just that you don’t understand the correct usage of the friendship list, which we well get to in a bit. But then, this entrains another form of time consuming people management imposed upon me. Some of you will actually notice that my name is no longer on your list. You will search for my easy-to-remember name, or look the card up in your inventory and IM me: “Did you remove me from your list? Why? Have I offended you? Am I not good enough for you?”.

/me looks with sympathy, understanding and consternation: It’s none of that.

It’s just that I don’t have the mental, emotional and physical energy and time to deal with 1500 +5 a day new friendships that I get. Those that I keep on my friendship list are actually my friends: The people who know me and that I know, the group that I see, interact with, play with and work with on a daily business for months and weeks and perhaps years. They are my friends, not newly met acquaintances.

So, with that in mind, what can we do, and how can we make better use of this function? I am so glad you asked. (No—really, I am!)

Wrong ways to offer friendship:

The I Don’t Know How This Game Works Friender: I can live with these types. They are just baby rezzies, barely of this world and some kind soul drops them a landmark to NCI land. (By the way, the best way to get rid of the annoying newbies is to drop a landmark on them, they hit “Teleport” before you have a chances to tell them what it is *grin*). They walk up to you and with a slack-jawed and wide-eyed look offer you a friendship before speaking. Don’t worry SweetWillow Babooshka, you can talk to me without having to ask permission. Just hit enter and type your words in the text box and the bottom of the screen. Their minds are blank slates, ready to be filled with simple common sense facts about the new world they find themselves in.

The I’m Feeling Good About You Friender: This is someone you’ve just sort of met, you’re enjoying yourself and having a very nice conversation and at the peak of your seratonine boost they reach for that warm and cuddly flywheel and sort of glide on in to offer friendship. Guh! You *are* genuinely nice, but I also don’t give out my phone number to everyone who approaches on the street. We’ve been talking a while, and I’ve told you that I live here, why not be a bit patient and see if you really want me to chat you up each and every single time you log in. You are great, really, but let’s take it slow, OK?

The Drive-By Friending: You have never said a word to me, literally, and from half-way across the region you see me and offer me friendship. Or you have never spoken to me, and you don’t realize that my camera is carefully placed between two precarious prims, every pixel of my being is focused on getting this prim or texture just right, I am entirely unaware of your presence and POW! Friendship! Is that how you do it in real life? Didn’t think so.

The Promiscuous Friender: This person friends everyone and anyone, ’cause… why not? They don’t really have a particularly good reason for it, it’s just something they do. “Yes, you can find X place 100 meters to the left, next to the big tree.” Friend! Uh… Why is it that you want to add me to your buddy list again?

The Persistent Friender: This gentle soul approaches you, speaks a word or two to you then hits your with the friendship bat. You decline and before you can say “Thanks, we don’t know each other well enough yet, maybe when we actually are friends I’ll fri…” POW bludgeoned again! Now I explain first: “Thanks that’s kind, I know you mean well and you are nice, but we need to get to know each other as people first”. /Me hits the decline button. POW! Frienships. Decline. Friendship! Decline. FRIENDSHIP!!!! /Me starts deciding whether to hit the mute button or start looking for the land officer. Decline… Persistence doesn’t always win you friends. And if it did, I’d just delete it an instant later anyway.

The Hey Baby Romeo: This clueless [expletive deleted] starts of his conversation with such witty and utterly original statements such as “Rawwwrrr!!!!”. Friendship. (Decline, no response). “Bitch!”.

The Heavy Friend: This person is cool and interesting, but you don’t know them. But you might be willing to contact them in the forseeable future. You ask them for a card. (Right click -> More -> Offer card). This is like giving someone your business card. No no no. I don’t *do* cards (you can almost hear the disdain with which they type “cards”) “I only do friendship. If it’s not friendship, it’s nothing!”. You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach?

The Creepy Double Whammy: This one is slightly more disconcerting than the previous ones. You are deep into a conversation with some friends, and out of the blue BINGBING! B1gM/\cD/\dd13_69 IMs you with “Heh!”. To which my response it to ignore it and start looking around, hoping that Mr. D/\dd13 typed into the wrong IM window. But noooooo. A moment later BINGBING! “Heh! I want to feel you” BAM! Friendship. /Me reaches for the mute button and schooches up to the nearest land officer…

The Correct ways to offer friendship:
We’ve hung out for a couple of weeks, had minor ups, downs and energy spikes and bits of quiet, a little bit of time and life has gone by and we still enjoy each other’s company. We decide to go shopping, exploring, to hear some music, anything. “I don’t know that place “TP me”? If someone other than training or utility is willing to TP you somewhere on a purely social basis, that’s a big clue that they may be ready to add you on their contact list. You have moved from the D rank (strangers, new acquaintances) to the C rank (good acquaintances, hang out in the same place, first name basis, but never really hung out that much) to the B rank. This is where the real magic happens. Either it works longer term or not.

So you friend them, right!? Now, Right?!

No! Not yet. Now, you ask. “May I friend you?”, “Can I put you on my list?”, “May I offer you friendship?”. If things have been going well, chances are pretty darned likely that you’ll get a yes.

If things go well, then you might end up having that precious A list friend that is what make a good list so worth while.

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9 Comments

  1. August 26, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    ahahah someone’s in a … ahem… peevy mood today :lol:

    But I hear you sister… can’t stand those friendship spammers and its been a long long while since I accepted a friendship just because someone said Hello and a few more words.

    (that said… I need to make a spring clean at my friend list…)

    Anyway, I guess when you start and until you get a sense on what SL might be for you, your vision of what the friendship list is changes altogether as well. And I have to admit I never got used to that contact card thingy, but, hey, that just reflects the mess my inventory is! I don’t think I will never get used to that… eh, maybe… we’ll see…

    As for now my friend list consists mostly of an handful of A and A+ type friends, to whom I talk regularly (not necessarily every day), plenty of B and C friends, that often fall in to one of these two categories: either work mates (fellow hosts and managers, or writers and editors) or persons I enjoy talking to on occasion, but aren’t still friends per say; maybe we share common interests, maybe we had a great talk one time, and from time to time we occasionally say hi and share a little something more… I guess they are future A friends in prospect (sort of a backup plan if all else fails lol) or simply ‘professional’ contacts part of your network of contacts and not really friends… guess these one I should just keep a contact card, eh?
    Then of course, I have also my share of D and even I dare say: E friends… and I really need to weed those out. This are mostly reminiscent of my early days in SL, or newbies that needed help when I was hosting at Sweethearts and out of sympathy I accepted their friendship and… who knows what else. Truth is, these really are just clogging the friend list.

    So yeah, now friendship is something that takes time for me too. Not something forced nor needed, but a natural flow of events that start from a simple ‘hello’ to acknowledging that a certain person is someone you’d like to stay in touch more permanently.

  2. August 26, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Excellent Post!

    I won’t offer friendship (yet) as you may not accept it (yet) but I appreciate your intelligent interpretation of the ‘befriending’ madness in Second Life. I am glad I discovered your website via one of my (not-so) digital friends on twitter. I hope to run into you in Second Life and maybe even befriend for mutual interest and with the prospect of staying in touch beyond the click of that little button: Add as Friend ;)

  3. quiteoh said,

    August 27, 2008 at 2:29 am

    @ Petros: I wasn’t so much peevy as it’s been rolling in my head forever, and I was particularly creative this day.

    @Alanagh: We may indeed. Thanks for the pointer to the twitter. I’m a new blogger, so I’m interested in knowing who reads and what interests them.

  4. August 27, 2008 at 10:12 am

    How true… About trackability: sometimes, for whatever reason, you don’t want a particular friend of yours to know that you’re online in this precise moment; then you trustingly open your friends list, and uncheck the “Friend can see when you’re online” box, only to get a message some mins later, “hellooooo!”, just by this same friend! What’s happened? Well, there’s a design inconsistency in SL: if your friend opens your profile, she’ll see “Currently online”, in the “2nd life” tab, just besides your name. Regardless of the “Friend can see…” checkbox setting. And regardless of the “Edit -> Settings -> Communication -> ‘Make my online status…’ ” checkbox, in case you were going to ask. The only way to be really discrete is to tick this last checkbox AND not make friends at all. So much for discretion :-P

  5. quiteoh said,

    August 30, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    @Zonja: Yup.

    And sometimes we do this for not other reason that we have an involved project, such as a build or a photoshoot session going on, we don’t want to be distracted, and we don’t want to have to tell 20 people that we’re busy. The taking the time to answer 20 “Sorry, involved at the moment” is in itself the very interruption we wanted to avoid.

    I think we all want to be socially graceful, and to let people know that they really appreciated and wanted and valued and that we enjoy their company, but in SL we are so accessible. In RL, we simply need to be physically non-present, and let our phones take a message. In SL, if you set yourself to away, you can’t take a message.

    C’est la vie.

  6. Milana Henley said,

    November 24, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    I completely agree with everything that you’ve written. I wish I had the nerve to click decline more often. However, I do have my contact cards organized into categories (i.e. friends, acquaintances, business contacts, clients, etc)….’cause I’m anal like that. But it is time that I clean out my actual contact list.

    (I’m so glad I ran across your blog. I’ve enjoyed reading it. Instant fav.)

  7. Lara said,

    February 2, 2009 at 7:25 am

    I am so glad you wrote this. It should be required SL reading. And now I feel better-I know why I’ve been deleted a few times:)

  8. Mayren said,

    September 3, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Loved the post. These issues are real and often belaboured over.
    I know I fret over being nice versus my own privacy when accepting friendship offers.
    *le sigh* :)

  9. Maeve Byron said,

    September 27, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Can I put your blog on my list?


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