Jan 22, 2009

The Second Life Friends List: We Need A Scale

Whoever designed the Friends list was clearly a computer geek and not a psychologist. Why? Because it uses binary logic. A person is either on the list or off. You're either a friend or not a friend. See, a binary model; a zero or a one.

Relationships are much more complicated than that. There are nuances and flavors of friendship ranging from "I think I remember you vaguely from when I was a noob" to "will you have my prim babies." What we really needed is a tagged Friends list: a list that allows for sub-categories of "friend."

Here's my first stab at a taxonomy.

Contacts: These are folks who are on your list because there's a better-than-one-in-a-hundred chance you may want to contact them sometime before you quit Second Life but you're not quite sure. You have talked to them at least once and they seemed, at one time, vaguely interesting. They are the sort of people that you would drop in exchange for a pair of Bax Coen shoes, Stiletto Moody boots, or a night out with Mimmi Boa, Miss SL Universe 2009.

Colleagues: They are on your list because you have some sort of job in Second Life and these folks help you do well at it. OK, so maybe this category seems a little utilitarian or mercenary, but anyone who doesn't have this category in real life is either a liar or naive.

Friends: These are the people you actually choose to be with and have fun. You use IM with them extensively and see them at least once a month. Friends are people you share some personal details with. You might even mention them in your Picks or on your blog.

Fuck Buddies: OK, I admit that this one does pander a little to the sensational, and may well get picked up by the world at large as yet another example of how Second Life is positively squirming with sex. But it isn't an obligatory category. It's reserved for "Friends with Benefits." A fuck buddy lets you test out your Xcite equipment and will use your favorite pose balls and Stroker Serpentine goodies.

Confidantes: These are people to whom you will share your dark secrets and trust them not to run to the authorities or a psychoanalyst. A confidante can disagree with you without fear of being muted - an action best used on assholes who refuse to shut up. Your Confidantes list should be in single digits and maybe countable on one hand.

The One: For some people, there is going to be a need for a special category of one. This is reserved for a special person who is a colleague, friend, fuck buddy, and confidante all rolled into one. Oh, and it should be a reciprocal category - your One should have you as their One. Otherwise you ought seriously to consider demoting them to friend or fuck buddy.

So there you have it: a new taxonomy of Second Life friendships. I suppose I could open a JIRA with the suggestion of a tagged Friends list, but I'm basically idle. Rest assured, though, that if you are on my Friend list, you are also sub-categorized too.

And no, I won't tell you which. Unless you're The One, in which case you already know!

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