I’ve been online since around 1992. That year I got my first e-mail account, learned how to make use of telnet and determined that UNIX and I were definitely never going to be friends. I’ve talked to a lot of people in that time and in the beginning I bothered to meet them in real life (IRL). At first, I had this romanticized naïve idea that online people could see you for the person you were inside and not judge you for your flaws – whether those flaws were physical or social. I had my own personal reasons for finding this appealing, but we’re not going to delve into those. They typically leave my friends drained and upset – the tired self-esteem vs. self-awareness debate. However, I do still believe that in some cases, for some people, being online can be liberating in a positive way, which is another long discussion.
After being online for so many years, here are some things I’ve come to believe as true (with the qualifier that they’re true for me):
1) You’re the only sane person online. Use that as your mantra and you can face any and all bizarre behavior that you will encounter. You will encounter bizarre behavior.
2) Everything you think is private is being logged, captured and will show up some place that will maximize the embarrassment to you.
A decent example of #2 (appropriately numbered) happened when two folks on a game I participate in decided to get their groove on. The way this particular game is coded, it broadcasts certain actions over a fairly wide area. Now while they were having a Barry White moment, there were at least 20 people in the vicinity who had some very interesting things pop on their screen. A plucky little feller popped by to say hello and thank them for sharing, which is where the logs and screenshots began. What we all got to see posted the next day was a completely naked elf holding an item called a 16 lb. Bass. That kept everyone busy for days. Not only were the logs funny in a 12 year old’s “I just hit puberty” kind of way, but what the heck was the bass about? There was a lot of speculation. Those players quietly left our particular server.
3) That reminds me of #3 – people gossip. Now we all know that gossip isn’t necessarily gospel, but people enjoy it just the same and once it starts to spread, it might as well be gospel. Reputations are ruined this way. I have a GREAT example, but it makes me shudder thinking about it. Let’s just say sharing special web cam time with people other than your significant other don’t mix. Although, hearing the story kept me occupied for a long time last night.
4) People lie a lot, which is up there with….
5) A lot of people need a lot of attention and negative attention still counts. Again, I have a really good example that I even typed out, but re-read it and it just creeped me out again so it had to go away. For my former EQ group, I’m just saying “Zentina”
6) Those hot chick avatars you’re chasing are overweight 40 year old men who like the look of a female avatar. Don’t hit on them. If they’re not 40 year old overweight men, they could be my 30 year old boyfriend. Don’t hit on him either, especially around me. It’s freaky. (As I was told one time, when I was picking on Jay’s character in-game by some randy kid “you don’t know her, she’s a lovely, sweet, beautiful girl”. I about choked.)
7) The undead chick is me. I chose her because she is unappealing, has missing flesh, skulks about and looks creepy. Don’t hit on me. I applaud your undead fetish, but come on, it’s indicative of so many other issues. Seek help. (Note: I’ve long passed my cuddly online Carebear years. I don’t pay $14.95 per month to babysit you and I’m not looking for a date; I’ve moved past that. However, I do pay $14.95 to hunt you down. We can hug between well-aimed shots.)
8) Knowing someone online will never take the place of knowing someone in real life in any satisfactory way.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a website from Nick Yee. Nick is a graduate student at Stanford who has put a lot of effort into studying various aspects of online gaming. He actually has some real insight
I was trying to be speedy and warn you not to use the “Z” word but alas I was to late. /shakes head
I was reading an online article about women gamers that quoted a group of women who said, “we played for months and never ran into a real woman.” I can easily rattle off 10-15 women just off the top of my head without even thinking.>>I think you’re right, Beth. Meeting people IRL kind of ruins the illusion. It’s the #1 reason Jay is against using Vent or Team Speak.>>Although, I can say without hesitation that the people I was happiest to meet were: Fellwarre, Raven and Maj. The Las Vegas gang are a fairly awesome group of people. I decided it would be ok after completely avoiding meeting people online. In my mid 20’s, I thought it was extremely cool and then it became decidedly uncool. (Lots of stories there.) After that, I didn’t like meeting people – wasn’t interested. Raven broke me down years later and still I went to Vegas very stand-offish with clear lines of “this is my space, my time, my rules – I don’t know you people”.>>I think what tilted the scales Lynn’s way – she was there during one of my bigger crises and IM’ed me every day while I sat at home hating life. (LYNN, You’re not getting a hug if you’re reading this!!!) At some point the friendship line of VR vs. IRL was crossed.>>For the record, Fel (Harry) was the only stranger I wanted to bound across the room and hug when I first saw them, which is big for me since I don’t like too much touching. (I was the untouched monkey from the psychology videos – the one with the fake wireframe moneky mama. Tissue?)
I demand an explaination for item 3!!!>>Item 5 made me wince! How dare you utter (type) THAT NAME!
As for # 3 – nope – not here. Suffice it to say: Don’t doodle your noodle on a web cam with anyone that’s not your spouse and FFS, don’t tell another soul – that stuff spreads like a wildfire online.
Regarding #6 – Toreetotz is the ONLY person I know whose toon looks just like her IRL – Just think it’s funny that peeps think they are really talking to that really hot toon. If ONLY I had Tikki’s hooters!! >>Just another note regarding online vs. IRL – I refused to go to the fan fare’s just because I didn’t want people to see who I really was and quite frankly I really didn’t want to know who those people really were – Online gaming is the only time reality does not get in the way.