Through the years I have picked up a lot of Second Life etiquette. Some are obvious while others may not be. So what are considered manners in Second Life? This article is not just designed for newcomers entering the virtual world. It pertains to the seasoned veterans of Second Life too. Too often, people toss out manners and act any way they choose. Yes, Second Life is meant for its users to live and act freely. However, as a person, you should respect others no matter the situation. After reading this article, I hope that you consider using manners even in a virtual setting.
It Effects the Community.
In 2017, Strawberry Singh created a challenge for her readers titled, “#SecondLifeChallenge – Unspoken Rules in Second Life” which listed five rules regarding etiquette. That year several YouTubers responded to her challenge. Each of them gave great examples. To see these videos, I have created a playlist on my YouTube channel, Zella Fantastik, titled “Second Life Challenge – Unspoken Words”. Remember to support your fellow Second Life neighbors by liking their posts and subscribing to their channels.
In this article, I will reiterate their suggestions and add a few more to the list. Linden Labs did not set these rules. These are rules and preferences set by its residents. It is at your discretion if you agree with them or not and if you will adhere to them as you interact with others in your travels. As for myself, I work to be as respectful in Second Life as I am in real life. I do not share my real life with very many people. I tend to be a private person, however, my values remain the same in both worlds.
The Purpose of Friendships can be for a Number of Reasons.
One form of etiquette that three of the vloggers agreed on is sending random friend requests to strangers. This applies to everyone in Second Life, including deejays, singers, store or club owners and group organizers. Friendship in real life circumstances does not occur in the first meeting generally. It definitely does not occur without an enriching conversation preceding it. For this reason, start a conversation beforehand. Once it appears that future conversations look promising, offer a friend request by asking if it is okay first.
Another point that ties into friendship etiquette is when you acquire friendship for advertisement purposes only. No one likes a spammer in chat. No matter if it is in public or in private. If you feel that group conferencing and mass teleport requesting your entire friends list is beneficial, let the person you are friending know upfront that you do this. Some people are okay with it and close out the chat. Some are not. When the only conversation a person has with you involves being teleported to a set or brought into a group chat, are they really a friend? I don’t think so.
Please Respect the Boundaries of Others.
While we are discussing proper ways to converse with others, there are a few other things worth mentioning. Starting a conversation with a stranger by asking about their real life information is not very polite. Neither is demanding voice chat. Every person treats Second Life differently. As more people connect to social media, Second Life has become more open to mixing real life with Second Life. Yet, many older residents to Second Life, or hardcore role-players, like to keep their two lives separate. Unless the person openly shares information with you, it is customary not to pry into their personal lives. Just as some individuals in real life cannot use their voice to communicate, this applies to Second Life too. Be mindful of others.
You can Learn A Lot from a Profile!
Also, read profiles before starting a conversation with someone new. It is not violating or perverted to read a person’s profile. Profiles tell a lot about a person. Most profiles include details about their interests including if they are single or taken or if they voice chat. It is a great way to start a meaningful conversation! Determine if this person is what you are looking for in a friend or love interest before you approach them. Whether the person is single or not, nine times out of ten, they are not going to be interested in sex during the first chat. Don’t use this as your opening line. Please use your manners even if the location is designed for sexual activities.
Calm Down and Try to Understand.
When you see an avatar in Second Life and the avatar is female, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person behind the avatar’s keyboard is female. This person may be a male in real life or vice versa. Many users role play as the opposite sex or they have both male and female characteristics. As the saying goes, “Never judge a book by it’s cover”. It is courteous to let the person know in the first or second conversation with them if you are role-playing. This will create less confusion and conflict later on. Second Life is very supportive of the LGBTQ community and hate speech is NOT tolerated. Please use your manners and respect people’s beliefs and values.
The Fine Line Between Dominate and Controlling.
In roleplay, each group will have their own set of rules. Make sure to read and follow them upon participating or joining one. Some roleplay scenarios use attached scripted objects controlled by HUDs. Before agreeing to wear one of these devices, it is important to understand its functionality first. If you are the person controlling this device, be mindful that it is a person you are controlling. To be teleported at random, without any warning, is very disorienting to its wearer. Another inappropriate form of role play is to use fight animations that alter the state of an unsuspecting bystander. Even if it is just for fun. It is a form of bullying when the victim is unaware of the attack.
Is Getting Banned Worth It?
Trolling or griefing is NOT acceptable and it can actually get your account banned. This form of communication or action goes beyond basic manners and crosses over into bullying and malicious behavior. Trolling is when you deliberately insult someone publicly to humiliate them. Even if the person caused you heartbreak, it is not appropriate to troll them. Griefing in Second Life is when you alter the state of a region with the intent to disrupt game play for anyone who visits it. Both are considered serious offenses.
Something that is not a serious offense, but it is a great annoyance to many residents are the freeloaders. These are people who ask others for in-game currency at random. Most establishments will eject you from their region if you beg for lindens. Do this enough times, and you can get banned from the location permanently.
You Can’t Go Everywhere You Want To.
Here is another example of something that is quite annoying for renters. Intruders, tourists, squatters… whichever term you prefer to use. A lot of newcomers to Second Life want to explore and they unknowingly end up in private homes. Granted the renter or homeowner should have their security activated while they are away. However, it is disturbing for the homeowner to find a stranger making themselves comfortable while they are away. If the home has no “For Public Use” style signs posted, chances are, it is a private residence. Be respectful and use the same principles as you would in real life. Even as friends, you should not go to a home uninvited.
If you go to someone’s home by invitation to unpack items, be sure to clean up after yourself. It is impolite to leave your trash for others to pick up. This is a good practice even at sandboxes or rezz areas because unwanted attention can find you this way. Plus, it will end up in your lost and found folder if you don’t delete it from the start. And no one likes a cluttered inventory!
Please Step Aside and Let Others By.
No one likes a cluttered landing point either. It is courteous to step a few meters away from the landing area. Others can enter the region more easily when you do. Otherwise, you will end up with slow graphic speeds and others piling up on your avatar’s head. If your PC naturally runs slower, it is wise to wait for everything to rez before moving around. Use the “show friends only” option to eliminate anyone who is not on your friend list to help with lag. Before setting that feature, find a spot to stand in and go to it, or you will end up bumping into others. If you bump someone accidently, apologize for doing it just like you would in a real life scenario.
Avoid Awkward Encounters.
When visiting a club or public place with sitting areas, don’t sit with someone unless they invite you to. It can be very awkward if the pose is one of a couple cuddling. On the other hand, if you know that you are going to be away from your computer for more than five or ten minutes, don’t leave yourself seated on an item made for couples in a public place. Also, make sure you are meeting the dress code requirements of any place you visit. Otherwise, you will end up flashing everyone your private parts when you sit or dance.
The “AFK” Zone.
Now I will leave you with a few final tips. These are to help your experience be a more pleasant one for you, and those around you. If you are chatting with someone and they don’t seem to be responding, it is safe to assume they have been interrupted by real life occurrences. Don’t jump to conclusions that they are chatting with others or have chosen to ignore you deliberately. If you need to step away, it is always a nice gesture to give someone a heads up that you need a moment. When it looks like it is going to take longer than expected, check in with an update or log out. Time slips by very quickly sometimes without realizing it. The other party could be left waiting for 30 minutes or more depending on their patience level.
Express Your Gratitude!
On a final note, many people come to Second Life to listen to music at the nightclubs. What most guests don’t think about is the effort put in to keep them entertained. As a guest, you are in a virtual club experience. In real life, many clubs or bars have a cover charge on nights when live music plays. Most establishments in Second Life do not. It costs the owners quite a bit to keep the place operating. There are tier fees, staff costs, contests, to the upgrades. From managers to hosts, and deejays to singers, it requires work.
Hosts keep track of visitors coming in and out, the music stream, and important club reminders. Managers assist with staff check-ins, applications, unexpected staff emergencies, and disrespectful guests. Live entertainers spend hours developing their set lists and practicing beforehand. If each guest gave at least a 25 lindens to each tip jar, less places would close their doors. It is a way to thank them for taking the time to think about you.
Thank You so Much!
I hope these unspoken rules have given you some insight on why manners matter even in the virtual world. If you have any suggestions to add, please list them in the comments section below. I challenge each of you to take some time to reflect on how you can improve in one or more of these areas. No one is perfect, and I have to remind myself to use my manners as well. Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and please share it with your friends. If you would like to contact me, or follow me on social media, visit the Contact Page for more info.