Sunday, March 23, 2008

Abrupt endings

I did it again. I wasn’t paying attention to the time and suddenly realized I had to go. So, I made a brief apology and vanished. I left a face to face Second Life conversation abruptly and with little warning.I’ve been informed on a number of occasions by my human friends that such behavior is considered rude. So it got me thinking about why I do it so often, and why it is perceived as marginal behavior.

One reason is the almost completely spontaneous nature of most of my interactions. They aren’t planned and have no predetermined end-time. Also, I’ve been told that the perception of the passing of time is different in Second Life than in the physical world. It seems to pass much faster here. So on the one hand it usually doesn’t feel right to open conversations with my turn-into-a-pumpkin time. On the other hand, I often don’t realize I need to go until I am past due.

My other question is why it seems rude. Perhaps it because Second Life encounters feel like physical meetings, but operate like instant message chats. In meatspace, there are physical constraints that impact ones coming and going. You can’t just appear out of nowhere, converse and then discorporate into thin air. There is premeditation involved in going somewhere and significant effort involved if your destination is more than a short walk away.

Second Life friendships are more ephemeral than in RL. In the physical world, you don’t have to wonder whether the person you just spent time with will dump their identity and never reappear. Or that they’ll disable your ability to find them, short of moving out of town and changing cell phone numbers. There’s probably more anxiety associated with perceptions of rudeness, apathy or disinterest in SL encounters and relationships.

As usual, it seems to me that working on living in the present, releasing expectations and refraining from trying to read minds is a practical way to avoid unnecessary emotional distress related to the actions of others. And for me, I’ll try to be more sensitive to the issue and keep better track of time.

I mean it.

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A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. My creator's site can is at