Tuesday, October 27, 2009


You know, there are some great things to be said for SL. For plurk too. We virtually meet people, we make friends, we share our SLives (and lives, to some degree) with wonderful people all over the world. Who would not want that, eh?

But then sometimes there comes the realism that our friendships, our relationships, are really quite detached and vague and really quite unlike their RL equivalents. When someone is a plane ride away you can’t just nip round for a coffee. If they’re offline, usually we can’t just phone them or send them a text to say hi and see how they’re doing. If they are not inworld or plurking, for the most part, there is just no way of reaching them and no way to find out why. No way at all.

I feel lucky in some ways because so far in my SLife I haven’t had a friend disappear without warning. Speaking to friends though, it seems clear that at some point it will happen. It happens to us all sooner or later.

Now, this post is not really melodramatic or anything emo like that, and is hopefully just prompted by storms causing power outages in Queensland, but it just made me realise, I guess, that when we need to speak to someone, sometimes we cannot. And that is frustrating. And there is pretty much no ideal solution. Our world-wide community has its limitations and drawbacks as well as it’s attractions and advantages. We just have to hope that the latter outweigh the former.


  1. It's hard when it happens. And having been that person who just disappears before [in both lives, actually. Ask me how many bosses wondered where I'd gone or how many guys were surprised when I never called again.], I never realized how bad it felt until it happened to me. My former SL friend decided to leave without a word earlier this year. Although I had her email, she never emailed me again. I was checking obituaries in her area for ages. Recently I heard that she's ok, although she never emailed me, so that's pretty much all I have to go on. It's sad, but it's just the way it is, I guess. :(

  2. hmmm, i did have friends disappearing out of the blue, and it's hard because you have no idea what is going on with them. That is what scares me the most, I am together with Jo for almost 3 years, we built up our sl life together, and yes i can sms him, and i can phone him, he is only in Germany, not so far away but... many of us sl'ers never tell to our rl friends or family what we are doing here, and that is difficult. Sometimes I imagine Jo gets into some kind of stupid traffic accident in rl, well.. I will never know.. he will be offline and i will never know why (but we are talking about that though). Bottomline in sl is you get to meet people, you like them, you experience things and suddenly they are gone.. and that is hard to deal with:-( but I guess that is (SL)life;-)

  3. People disappear for different reasons, and SL makes it easy. I've known several who have dropped off SL without warning, and then reappear as an alt. With a different group of friends then only to do it again to them.
    Its unsettling to those of us left behind, especially to know the wool has been put over our eyes.
    Oh dear - I dont mean to be so cynical, but you just dont REALLY know, unless you have rl contact.

  4. My last dissaparition was an old friend, who scolded me about defriending one of her alts without an explanation (the fun thing was it had been her, but I hadn't bothered to ask why); one month later, she did a massive defriending and dissapeared without a word.

    While I understand how ease and tempting is to simply stop contact, I always find hard to believe how many "nice" people, who you thought you mattered to, behaves in such a rude way.

    Of course there is also the other side of the coin, people who suddenly only comes to SL two or three times a year, without even leaving an IM when they do.

    I understand why they don't say goodbye, since they never leave, but to all effects they are gone, and I tend to simply delete them from my friends list. I know it makes me rude, too, but what could I say to them?

  5. I would only add some things about SLerendipity. We run into people who turn out to have impact in our RL lives at the unanticipated right moment. We just miss someone and it makes a difference (and that is just as significant in RL) ... In SL where you think you have such complete control over your appearance and "profile" things happen that still remind you: you are NOT in control!

    Doncha love it?

  6. I've definitely "lost" friends which has, I admit, really worried me greatly. The first time I had a friend / business partner disappear he left me a garbled message on the phone saying he'd be a couple of weeks. Six weeks later, with no answer from emails to him, all of his websites & accounts untouched and his cell phone disconnected, I was distraught & started more search methods. Luckily he managed to borrow a laptop & get through to me to calm my concerns.

    As a result however I now pass a contact notecard with all of my RL contact details to key friends in SL & ask for similar in return. That way, if anything happens we all have RL details & an emergency contact as well.

    I really care for my friends I make in SL and find the distance hardest when they're in need, unhappy, sick or troubled.

    As you said it's something we have to expect when making such strong emotional attachments, but I admit I'll always find this the hardest aspect to deal with.


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