Friday, April 25, 2008

Mentors Mentors Everywhere!

I had a little time yesterday and decided to give it to a volunteer program close to my virtual heart. So, being suddenly responsible, I joined several of my fellow mentors for a mentors meeting. I know, I know. You're shocked at my sudden sudden sense of Linden patriotism.

Honestly, I would be delighted to go to more of these if the players were all a little more professional. Don't get me wrong - the Lindens are almost always lovely. And most of my mentor colleagues in attendance are a hoot. But I really do struggle with one issue that gets under my skin. It's the problem of the group IM chat window.

Cranky mentors don't play well together. If someone needed assistance, they asked for it in a chat window. And generally, people responded. This worked well for me for a few reasons.

First, I had a handle on what was going on with the grid. For instance, the problem of the skirt. My skirts would appear for 1 second, then poof, leaving a small panel across my tooshy and a transparent cylinder around my ankles with what looks like a webpage reflected in light hues. This ended up being a glitch that is being addressed. But in the meantime, here I am, walking around without a skirt, bewildered as to why my bathing suit wrap looks more like some weird restraint device. Open problem solving chat would have put me on to that answer WAY sooner than it took me to navigate the Wiki (which I find a bear as I have no knack for getting around that thing yet).

Secondly, open chat helps me learn. You all know that I stumbled into the plague a few months ago which was solved with mentors from another mentor group (God bless those guys!). It's a semi rare thing, but common enough that lots of people know how to resolve it. And yes, it is on the elusive Wiki (which I searched for over an hour and never found). Had a newbie mentor stumbled into it, and had they posted to chat, and had people responded, we would have witnessed the process by which they corrected the problem and when I stumbled upon it, I would have had the knowledge to walk her through it rather than disturb what ended up being 7 or 8 mentors (all patient, humorous, knowledgeable and a joy with whom to work).

Frankly, I hate spam. Most of us do. But there is a distinct difference between a decent conversation and a bunch of silly flirting or rambling. Instead of learning to work together, the IM chat has been limited to "Chinese speaking mentor needed at THIS PLACE." and "Resident in need of assistance regarding missing inventory. Please IM me." That "please IM me" part is now a REQUIRED thing to have lest you risk be kicked out as a mentor.

God forbid someone actually respond in chat!!! They'll spend the next 5 minutes being rudely attacked, listening to other mentors scream about the rules and how (s)he is a spammer. This has happened to me. Before I was aware of the irritation of others, I responded in chat with some satirical quip (which received chuckles and lols) and before I knew I had three or four people screaming at the top of their non existent virtual lungs about spam and how unprofessional I was. Apparently their OCD doesn't allow for the tiniest bit of patience to leave a chat tab open until things settle down so that they can safely close it, comforted in the knowledge that the discussion is over.

Of course, in our mentors meeting, all was going decently well (okay I tolerated it) until near the end when our Linden buddies make a statement about honoring the chat rules and threatening that if they are not followed, they will shut it down. The language used was beyond stern. It was flat out tyrannical.

I took several deep breaths and tried to be patient and limit my boiling irritation. I wanted to firmly make the comment that people who lose their patience over something so silly should have their mentoring tags removed and be booted from the program. Why? Because if they loose their patience and are rude over conversation that might be helping someone, imagine what they do with residents who are not their perfect little mentoree subjects.

My other mentors group, Open Chat for Volunteer Mentors, rocks. Made of mostly crusty SLers, you post a problem. There is this odd lull. (I imaging the crusty brains processing the problem, their mentoring box in their head scrolling through mentor notecards until they pull just the right one and scream, "Ah ha! By Jove, he's got it!") Then suddenly, someone clearly posts either a pointed question or a solution. If it's a question, I answer it. And during the lull as they roll their Rolodex of answers again, I thank them for taking time to help. I do mean it sincerely, but the timing of doing it is really because I feel bad for asking and disturbing their day. They may not feel disturbed but after the drama in the other chat, I feel compelled. Eventually they work out a solution, we get the resident on their way, and we exchange sarcasm and tea and crumpets.

I think my hesitation and mousy approach to asking developed from drama abuse. Why do I say that? Because that kind of behavior is seen in women who were abused by husbands, children who were abused by parents, and weak men when they approach someone in need of something for themselves. It's a behavior that takes years of therapy and behavior modification to overcome. The result of all of this?

I'm a victim of SL Mentor Drama Abuse.

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