I noticed that in the last few weeks of 2007, I was connecting with my SL friends and making some new ones so I thought I'd devote the first post of 2008 to friendship in virtual worlds.
I've had a lot of experience making friends and maintaining friendships online via email and online forums, but Second Life provides e-friendships with entirely new dimensions. We can actually DO things with our friends in virtual spaces, not just communicate - although communication in SL seems so much more interactive and expressive than email. Emoticons just don't cut it, but an avie smile or hug is actually really nice.
In a way, I don't really make a strong distinction between SL and RL friends anymore. They are all my friends, we just interact in different places and spaces. I see no less value in SL friends than RL friends. They are simply long distance friends who I haven't yet met F2F.
In some cases, my SL friends are actual RL friends who I've known F2F for a long time, and we are not meeting up in SL. That adds a whole new dimension to my friendships in SL.
Overall, while I have a growing list of "Friends" in SL, the ones who I have emotional bonds with number only a dozen or so, even fewer in terms of who I totally would confide in. This mirrors my list of RL friends, most of whom are far away from me.
Needless to say, I am far less lonely living up here in the Far North now that I've met so many wonderful people in SL. I'm still working hard to cultivate my friendships in RL, too. Making friends in Second Life is not to the exclusion of friends in my First Life. But they do help to stave off loneliness and help me feel much more connected.
Here are a few snapshots of me with some of my SL friends...
(There are a few good SL friends who are not featured here only because I didn't run into them in the last 2 weeks of December. You know who you are & that I love ya!)
Hope Clary invited me to go skiing with her friends DuckyFresh Watanabe, but unfortunately, I didn't have room in my Groups to join the one necessary to actually be able to ski. Still, it was nice to be invited and always nice meeting new people. As in First Life, I find I meet the nicest people in Second Life through the people I already know and like. (Note to Linden Lab: 25 groups are NOT enough to combine business and fun interests. Please up the limit.)
Beautiful Sophrosyne Stenvaag is a creator of Extropia and a great Second Life blogger. She is one of my SL friends who is purely avatar. She won't do SL voice, she won't reveal her true identity. We all can speculate that she is really a man but in the end, it doesn't really matter, does it? She is a smart, generous and kind person who I consider a true friend.
I do have a few male friends in SL, and here I am with two of my favorites - Malburns Writer and Joi Koi. Both are creative and interesting. Very generous with their time and knowledge. They're always willing to help me when I'm in a quandry.
This is Lifefactory Writer. I just met her, and she is GREAT! She's entered into the 48 Hour Film Project. I look forward to getting to know her better as well as seeing more of Panther Chenille who is involved with the same film project.
This is Grace McDonnough who has a fantastic voice and is a wonderful person. I finally participated in her Musimmersion project - music immersion. Loved it!
Here is Grace along with either iAlja Writer or IYan Writer and Alanagh Recreant's tiny. They are my first tiny friends. I love them but can't remember if iAlja is the black cat or IYan. I htink it is IYan. I'm learning about making a venue tiny friendly to accommodate my new small friends.
Hanging with friends at the new set for my SLCN.tv show REAL BIZ in SL. Lauren Weyland is a comedian (not a typo), Sloan Skjellerup is in education and is full of ideas, and Eshi Otawara is a talented artist. All three are very strong, opinionated and funny as hell.
I haven't spent enough time with Caterin Semyorka or Therese Carfagno but they invited me to dance with them at a great blues club and introduced me to their friend Peter Stindberg. Had a blast line dancing with them.
Now this photo warms my heart. This is Soph; Alanagh Recreant of Uthango in Cape Town, South Africa; and iAlja with IYan goofing around in the background. The four of us female friends basically stood in this photo pose for a long time - several hours? - and talked via SL voice or typed (in Soph's case and mine when my ears hurt from my headset), and just really solidified our friendship. Great female bonding moment.
After all the heavy discussions about challenges we've faced, iAlja and IYan lightened up the mood with a dance ball. Yes, that is me dancing on the sofa.
This is the money shot. Strong, powerful, beautiful, talented, creative, women. Friends in 2007. Friends in 2008 and beyond.