I am sure at some point before in this mammoth marathon of verbal seepage I have mentioned how we are helpless in our SL friendships and relationships. But I'm going to mention it again anyhow.
You see, this week it affected me very directly and I was once again reminded of the distance between us. Someone close to me, someone I speak to every day, vanished. I was not around all the long weekend, something friends were aware of, but I returned to the computer on Tuesday to find her absent. Tuesday passed, Wednesday passed and still no word. Common friends were worried too. It wasn't just me.
To compound the issue the friend's list shown on secondlife.com decided it would omit her. So my initial thought was that she'd deleted her account. But when I did get online I found the website's error and then dismay turned to worry.
I mean, there may have been illness, an accident or major RL trauma and stresses involved but I had no way of finding out which explanation of these, or indeed any other, was correct. I was left. Lanquishing.
The good news is that Thursday brought relief when she resurfaced. But that's all background detail really. The issue I am writing about is the helpless emptiness we feel when a friend poofs, even for a couple of days.
Some people talk about giving an SL friend RL contact details so that they can get in touch. But even with an RL email address and mobile phone number the situation here was not altered. If people don't want to answer emails or texts they don't have to. So again, you don't know if it space they need or an ambulance.
Others talk about getting similar contact details for an RL contact of your SL friends so you can get in touch in a second-hand kind of way. But some have good reason to be reticent to do that, and even if they're not, it seems a bit alarmist emailing someone you don't know just because a common friend has been offline for two days, eh?
I guess therefore I don't have a solution to suggest. It is just a problem that we have to live with due to the very nature of our global and virtual relationships. What is so exceptional and such a draw-card for me in terms of meeting fantastic people on-line on the other side of the world is also a key flaw. We befriend in this global intrasphere but cannot nip round to have a coffee and see if our befriendibles are ok. It sucks, huh?