As you can see, I took that good long nap after my last post. It has been a great rest, one that I sorely needed. Part of my rest included taking a break from Second Life, too. I’ve been back in-world for a little bit of time now, and simply enjoying myself and not taking things too seriously. As people who know me will attest, it is hard for me to keep quiet, though. So I’ve decided that rather than permanent retirement of this blog, I’ll post when the mood strikes me. If you can stand gaps between posts, I hope you’ll keep reading. 🙂
Part of enjoying myself has been visiting new places and meeting new people. This has been great fun; I’ve made many new friends and encountered some fascinating people. Sure, just as in our first lives, it is easy to meet people, but difficult to people with whom you truly connect. I’ve noticed something very interesting, though. I find that within four or five lines of text, I tend to get a sense if there is any potential for a connection with a person. And, at the same time, I also get a sense if I might need to hit the mute button, too. Are you nuts, Lanna? Do you really know these things in just a few seconds? Peek after the jump to find out!
I’ve long been a believer in the intuitive feels that I get from people in Second Life. If someone IMs me, I rely heavily on the vibe I get from people. Some of what makes up this vibe is difficult to put into words, but it is usually the most important part of the impression people send. Now, when I hear the familiar “ding ding” of getting a new IM and see it is from a stranger, the first thing I do is open their profile. Then maybe I’ll move my camera over to have a look at their avatar, too. I’m sure those things play a role in my impression, but it is what and how they say things that often puts the icing on the cake for me for first impressions. (Let me also say from the outset, that I almost entirely use text. Yes, I’ll voice once in a blue moon, but I am seldom in a position where I’ve got the privacy to talk in SL. So I’m excluding the voice factor in this post, but I will say that I’ve found that some of the same things apply with voice, too. )
What gives me a good vibe in text? Well, I think it is the same as any of us; I love confidence, humor, politeness and intelligence. I especially like it if it seems like the person has taken the time to read my profile before they say hello. It also helps if it feels like the person is trying to be attentive and thoughtful in what they say and ask. Actually, now that I think about it, my bar is set pretty low. Be kind, listen to what I say, and show that you might find me interesting and I’ll probably chew your ear off. But I’ve found these are often the foundations of what makes a person enjoyable to get to know.
So while I have my bar set pretty low for getting a good conversation going, I’ve noticed that meeting interesting people who actually do some of these things seems to be the exception rather than the norm. What is it then, Lanna, that people do that makes you not want to talk? Well, I’ve found there are three categories of that raise the Great Wall of Lanna faster than you can hit enter; I call these groups texters, dead-enders, and context-shifters.
Okay, I’ll admit that not liking text speak is a little petty and probably has to do with the fact that I’m over 30. Sure, we all use text speak from time to time (LOL!), but I don’t think I’m being picky to expect at least a few full words and complete sentences. So when someone opens with “how r u?” or “what are you up 2?”, my first reactions is to want to type “kthxbai.” I don’t do that, of course, and I see where the conversation goes, but more often than not, I don’t find these people terribly engaging.
Then there are the dead-enders. These are people who contact you and expect you to do all the work in the conversation. These conversations tend to go something like this:
Random Avatar: Hi
Random Avatar: How are you?
Me: I’m well, thanks. And you?
Random Avatar: I’m good
(insert long pause here)
Random Avatar: What are you up to? (or maybe “what brings you here?” or something of that ilk)
The sort of conversation tends to put the work of holding up a discussion on me and, by this point, I usually have little or no desire to keep talking with them. And before you jump on me, I know that people are shy and get nervous talking to someone new. But if you want to talk to me, at least make some indication why you decided to IM me in the first place. If you’re the one who initiated it, please try to follow through!
Finally, the context-shifters are a more challenging group to describe. These people might have the qualities that make them good conversationalists that I mentioned earlier, but they do something that feels like they’re trying push us out of the context that we’re in together before getting to know one another. Some examples of this? People who start out by asking me something like: A/S/L? Or assuming I want to be part of your RP with a juicy tidbit like: “/me eyes you intently as I bare my fangs to bite you.” Um, no. There are other more subtle examples of this, but the people in this group often make the first contact on terms that they’re interested in rather than starting on common ground. We might have actually gotten to the things you were talking about, but starting there doesn’t do much.
One of the traits I inherited with from my mother is a near compulsion to talk to strangers in both my first and second lives. I’m sure that I have some conversational quirks that turn people off right away, too. But how about for you? What do you look for in starting a good conversation with a stranger? Do you find that you dismiss people quickly because of how or what they write to you?