Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Words of Advice for SL People

People often ask me if I have any words of advice for young people. Well here are a few simple admonitions for young and old. Never interfere in a boy-and-girl fight.

From William S. Burroughs' "Words of Advice for Young People"

What is amazing to me is the number of people in SL who are struggling. Granted, we are all struggling (that's just life). But the number of people SL draws who seek out it's comforting nothingness as a means to escape, no avoid their RL is astounding to me.

So, some thoughts.

1. You are not as popular as you think. With hundreds of thousands of people in SL, you are one. Callie Cline is an exception. You are not Callie Cline. And by the way, do you have ANY idea how many people have NO IDEA who she is?

2. If you don't know how to make RL relationships work, you probably will not be able to make SL relationships work. SL relationships have their own set of challenges in addition to the RL relationships. To expect that you'll make a go of it without the work and effort is silly. Worse, you bring your standard of how you "do relationships" to SL and apply it there. If it isn't working, either you are doing it wrong, or you are choosing the wrong people.

3. To our ladies, if he dumped you because of a rumor or something someone said, count your blessings. If he truly cared about you and was man enough to be a good mate, he'd have come to you to work out the problem. If your relationship is so flimsy that you two are not working together in complete trust and harmony, then you don't have a relationship. You have a partner in a game.

4. Pride. Pride gets you into all sorts of trouble. Being honest with yourself and admitting that it's okay that you do not know everything will get you further than bragging that you are something you are not. That will get you into trouble every time and likely cause much drama. By the way, if you really THINK you are all that, and others are upsetting you telling you you aren't take a reality check. Maybe you are and you have bad friends. Or maybe you aren't and you're kidding yourself.

5. The irrational. If you see someone who one minute claims they are desperate, then the next is bragging in the same conversation, I would advise that you question their stability. Which means you question why they are in SL. Which means you ask if this is a person with whom you should be working/involved.

6. In SL, people claim they are a lot of things. If you stumble into someone who claims that they are a CEO or a famous person, it isn't likely that they are who they say they are (official events aside of course, although, frankly, even then you never know as expert SL handlers may be running their avatar on their behalf). I have been blessed to know a few RL celebrities (business and entertainment alike) and most opt to run around SL incognito. That noobie might just be Bill Gates.

7. Given people are not always what or who they claim to be, have you considered how simple it is to create a relationship of trust? In most cases who end up on my proverbial couch, it usually takes not more than two minutes to get someone to open up. I know their story, their fears, their kids names, their home town, what they drive and sometimes even where they work. I might know where they hang out, if they go to church, where, the college from which they graduated and the fact that they go to the movies on 2nd and Wood every Tuesday night at 7pm. If I were someone of bad intentions, I would have all I need to track you down. "Oh that will never happen to me" is something I have heard all too many times, and sometimes, never heard as I have held the hand of the survivor because "me" didn't make it. Protect yourself and protect your kids.

8. You are only as good as the choices you make. If you choose to be with people who treat you poorly, do not blame them. Blame yourself for choosing to be with people who treat you that way. This, I think, is the source of a LOT of SL drama. I've been fortunate. My friends in SL work together to be friends. My acquaintances, while all kind, nice people, may or may not (we'll see!). But I make sure that the people whom I give some trust are people who guard against being eaten by drama.

9. "But she's my friend and I want to help her!!!" (If you had any idea how much this one is a red flag....) If you are going to help anyone, the first rule is that you cannot become a part of the problem issue. You MUST be able to draw a line and stay objective. If you are unable to do that, then you can be supportive but you probably will NOT be able to help anything. You may bring comfort. You may remind someone that they will not walk alone. But help? No. Call a wise friend. Call a therapist. Call a clergy person. Call a psychiatrist. Call a social worker. Or call the police to help bring someone to a place where they can get their mental health back.

10. Second Life is not a life. To get a life, you need to meet REAL people in REAL life. While SL is not just a game, it does not count as a life. A life is when you get up from your keyboard, get your shower, step outside into daylight (remember that?) and go meet real people in a real place... Like maybe a cafe. Or a bookstore. Or church. Or a park. Then you, get this, talk to them. THAT is where you start having a life.

Burroughs finishes off his advice with the following- it just seemed so appropriate to SL business I couldn't help but to share it.

An old junk pusher told me -
Watch whose money you pick up


Baron Hauptmann said...

Wonderful advice! Should be required reading before making an account. Of course, everyone always thinks, "will not happen to me." "no drama here. . ." And then, *bang*, in the midst of "drama"!!

So I suspect this, like so much good advice, falls on deaf ears. Too bad. But keep trying ;) Maybe someone will take note, maybe one person will not have to visit your proverbial couch . . .

Botgirl Questi said...

Great post! I don't know your history, but you certainly write as someone who has been through the trials and challenges of physical and virtual life and actually learned from it. I'm with you. A little reflection and awareness go a long way.