Fun conversation in SL last night amongst the usual suspects: “What if we all met up like this in RL – do you think the conversations would be the same?”
It was a great conversation starter that got everybody thinking about how we communicate inworld when we’re gathered together in a group – unlike many groups of people who meet up in SL, we do tend to be rather talkative in open chat, and that in itself made me wonder whether how we converse inworld could actually translate to a real-life setting. When we meet up, it’s not unusual to have a number of conversations going on simultaneously in open chat, and to be actively involved in contributing to all of them; whether this would be feasible in RL is debatable, since I’m pretty sure the end result would be a cacophony of voices with little hope of deciphering individual strands of any one conversation, let alone discussing multiple topics at once.
Then we started to realise that how we do things when together in SL might not translate terribly well to the real world… It would become rather absurd pretty rapidly if every time somebody left to go to the bar or to nip to the loo, everybody else piped up with “Hurry back!” – and then, on their return – “Welcome back!”: We all do it inworld, but in a real life situation, it’s more than a little naff! Similarly, we all seem to feel the need to formally welcome everyone who comes into range in SL, and conversely, every newcomer is at pains to greet everyone assembled by name, and let’s not forget the chorus of goodbyes from everyone present as each person leaves. Not really the done thing in RL.
You can guarantee too, that if a decent song came up on the jukebox, a number of us would invariably pipe up with “Tune!”, or “I love this DJ!” – again, it wouldn’t draw a second glance inworld, but elsewhere it’s more than likely to cause bemused stares, even an irate response from those wishing to enjoy a quiet night out, having to contend with us reprobates spoiling the atmosphere.
As for the conversation itself, once we’d managed to sort out who was saying what, to whom, we might struggle with some of the things that we tend to take for granted in SL. Copying and pasting funny quotes might be a little problematic, and the opportunities for seizing mischievously upon unintentional typos would rather limited – well, non-existent! And everyone would have to sit together, because SHOUTING ACROSS THE ROOM is just not acceptable in a real life public place, and it’s something we just don’t have to concern ourselves about whilst inworld. And whilst we’re considering keeping the volume down, those private conversations that we can conduct effortlessly in SL by IM, would be somewhat hampered if we wanted to communicate with anyone whose ears were outside whispering distance – perhaps we’d have to resort to passing folded notes across the room, hoping that no-one else would have a peep; hardly a discrete way to have a conversation.
Then there are the other considerations to be taken into account: Inworld, we think nothing of having a deep discussion whilst simultaneously dancing frantically for hours on end, with music blaring in the background; and as anyone who has ever frequented any sort of real world club will be well aware, it’s nigh-on impossible to conduct any sort of conversation under those circumstances and if you attempt it, within a very short space of time you’ll end up completely breathless, hoarse and incredibly frustrated. Yet, that’s how the vast majority of conversations that I’m party to inworld tend to be conducted.
I guess it’s indicative of the vast gulf that really does exist between reality and virtual living – a gulf that we’re pretty much completely unaware of – until that is, we try to transpose the one over the other and realise that in practical terms, it simply wouldn’t work.
It’s a funny old world.
A little less conversation
A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation