“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval
By Buttercup Thursday.
The Friends list in Second Life is becoming about as meaningful as a Facebook Friends list; i.e. , a few are actual friends or family, some are contacts you want to keep, and the rest are pains in the ass whom you don’t give a flying fig about. The only possible benefit the FB list has over the SL one is that you can gaze upon your tally of FB friends (2,537) with pride, secure in the knowledge that the world knows of your immense popularity. Our SL Friends list can quickly bloat to similar unwieldy numbers, just like our poor Second Life inventory can start bursting at the seams with unnecessary and unwanted stuff.
If your Friends list has turned into little more than an endless list of avatar names that you may or may not care about or even know, then you are missing out on being able to keep track of true friends, notice when they come and go so that you can stay in touch, and send out timely announcements to targeted groups of people. So how do you have a lean, mean, meaningful and fun Friends list? First, we can follow a few simple rules about making friends. C’mon. Just try.
Someone that you enjoy chatting with, exploring with, doing things that are none-of-my-business with? A casual acquaintance you might message to see if they are free for a dance? A friend of a friend you met at a wedding? A soul-mate? Someone who buys your mesh boots or tips generously when you’re swinging around on the pole? All or none of the above? Set some parameters, and stick to them. Don’t go sending friend requests to someone you’ve barely shared two words with (unless those two words are REALLY GOOD)– it’s not required, not normal practice, and not normally welcome. Conversely, don’t accept friendships from random people in the room. You don’t have to make an issue of it, just don’t accept the offer. (You don’t have to decline it either. Just let it die a quiet, pathetic, natural death by not responding.)
For those you barely remember or barely know, you need to examine their profile carefully, trying to remember why you became amigos in the first place, and assess whether dumping this person might offend, distress, or have them come at you with a pixel meat cleaver, which you would probably want to avoid. When you’ve selected the victim to delete, wait for a moment when they are offline (I’m not sure people still receive that awful unfriend message if they are inworld, but I wait just in case), and quietly delete them from the list. Then go have an ice cream sandwich.
It goes without saying that you cull the peeps you are just no longer interested in or who are ex-anything (partner, business associate, in-law, whatever).
Go ahead and delete those who became friends because one of you was too cowardly to decline a random friendship offer from someone you didn’t know.
You can’t bear to see them online. This is a legitimate reason for unfriending someone who is/was close to you. Ex-lovers for example…when you break up and are all emotionally bruisey, of course you don’t want to see each time they log on and off and commune with others who are not you. I know that people split, vowing to be friends anyway… well sorry, no. Gotta strike you from the list.
For those you haven’t heard from in ages or otherwise been out of contact, you can try getting in touch to see if there is still any interest or spark. This can be accomplished by simply sending a cheery IM. You can say you are checking in, and if the magic is no longer there, you know what to do. One friend has a lovely, tactfully worded notecard that he sends to the lost souls huddled unloved on his list, to the effect of “We seem to have drifted apart, and that’s OK but I’m trimming my friends list so if you would like to stay in contact, please send me a message.”
TL;DR: Keep the people on your Friends list that you take pleasure in contacting and who feel the same about you, and the ones necessary to your business or other activity, and delete the rest.
Recently I was playing with that feature in Firestorm called Contact Sets, wherein you can organize your Friends list into manageable color-coded, easily accessible sets. You can target IMs to defined sets, for example. Also, those people in specific sets will show up in their correct color coded dots on your mini-map. This can be handy if you need warning of incoming clients or people you might be avoiding. Yes, we do keep people we would rather not see on our Friends lists; in fact one of my sets categories is called “Avoid”.
Here are some of the fun categories I’ve made in my Contact Sets: Real Friends, Fake Friends, Business, Spam Victims, Alert!, Avoid, Delete When Possible. Some serve no real purpose except to show in color what kind of friends I have, all neat and organized– and I actually was somewhat surprised at the ratios of Friends, Fake Friends, Business and so on, and how they overlapped. You might be too. And yes, you can borrow my set titles. You know you want to.
Let’s break these categories down:
Real Friends: Well duh, we know who those ones are. The ones we seek out when we log in, the ones we share real stuff with, the ones we care about.
Marginal Friends (or Fake Friends): They are the ones who cheerfully keep in touch, who share superficial tidbits about themselves (and you do the same); you can happily navigate Second Life without them, but they are not obnoxious enough to delete. This category can also include people you kinda like but rarely see, or who you IM when you are lonely but aren’t too disappointed if they are already busy.
Business: Obviously your clients or associates or fans or bosses or underlings or the ones you deal with by necessity compose this set. Friends can bleed into other categories, so if you are having a fling with your PR person, it’s possible he could show up in your Real Friend category too. Your business category can encompass any SL activity that occupies your time, like roleplay characters or a club scene or a writing group.
Spam Victims: You need to alert your friends and associates of important stuff you are doing/showing/selling, and so you send notices to let them know, because they NEED to know. Having a set of victims is extremely helpful and simplifies the process. Spam is unfortunate. But oh well.
Alert!: Just someone, or if you lead a very dramatic life, many persons, that you want to pay special attention to. Only you know why. You want them highlighted in your list. You probably track them. Put them in this set. You’ll feel better.
Avoid: This might be the person that will create a scene should you delete them. Or the person who is totally sweet and into you and innocent like Bambi and you don’t want to spend time with them and you can’t bring yourself to remove them either. Or the one you flirted with and more, and find out later he’s a Christian Evangelist, but they were nice and you are not ready to boot them off the list. (I only use the CE as an example. Your horror may be a Democrat. Or vegan.)
Delete When Possible: You’ve courageously identified the “friends who are not friends” and are ready to cull. This set is for them. My DWP list was a bit long, since I hadn’t deleted anyone since the beginning of time, except for egregious cause. So this yellow color set is a work in progress… checking profiles and deleting when they are offline.
Early on in my Second Life I created a group called Luscious Glitter Vodka No Friends, since I apparently saw the inherent danger of a bloaty Friends list, which is the constant pings and tab flashes from people who are not really friends. My real friends and I would stay in touch without the need of an official and spurious list, I thought. ‘Twas a good idea, and I like the name, but I found I liked to be notified when a friend logged on, and sometimes needed to know when an acquaintance or business contact was online… so I abandoned LGVNF. Well, the group still exists, with one other member who joined so I wouldn’t be lonely.
I am still very much pro Luscious, Glitter, Vodka. But I can’t quite get by without my friends.