I find it strange, but there are some of my friends in Second Life that I never see. The premise of the thing should really be that it is chat with pixels. You chat with someone, you meet up (in pixels of course) and you do stuff together. Stuff that makes you relate to the other person in a different way than if you were only chatting.
I meet up with Michaell and we dance while we chat. I think it makes us closer in some way, because the mind sees an embrace and sends the feeling of that embrace to the body in some way. I think there is research done that shows this, but I am not sure (and it is a bitch to try and find it via Google…)
When I hang out with Gora we go places. We explore the virtual world. It gives us a shared experience and we are very close because of these shared experiences. Some times when we are out there in the virtual world, we get tired and we sit down, and we talk about all things. I made a Flickr set with snapshots of me and Gora. You can see it here.
Charmaine and I often start off in the IM box (personal chat for those that don’t know), but then we meet up. She often shows me her projects. She has a big place, and she likes to develop it, and show me what she has done since I was there last. So we experience things together, and then we sit down somewhere and chat face to face so to speak, and we relate on another level, I think.
It is the same with Drezz. He was away from SL for a long time because his computer broke and then he couldn’t afford to get a new one. But when he came back we had to meet up in pixels in order to rekindle our relationship. He is a colleague DJ on Taniz, and we try very hard to go to each other’s DJ sets to show support, but also to chat “in person”
But then there is Stefan!!!! He is such a beautiful person in the real world, but in Second Life he drives me mad. I think one of the reasons is that he never wants to meet up in pixels. I have some rare moments where he does invite me to join him or I get him to come to me, and when we do meet up in pixels, I go away with a warm feeling. But mostly we only chat in IM, and it is not the same. I often log out of SL with a sense of not being connected to him.
I guess it takes all sorts. Communication is what it is all about really. The fact that we can relate to each other in chat and then put a face (be it only a virtual face) to the other person makes for stronger relationships. It is vital, I think – and virtual.