Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ask Eddi: How does one handle a Second Life drama queen?






Dear Eddi:


I am not sure what to do.  A very close friend of mine is a complete drama queen.  And it is getting worst. Whenever I log on the individual IM's me with his latest drama - sometimes even before I rez.  Either it is another heartbreak, another bitch stab at someone for an imaginary slight to him, or something else. Even worst, he somtimes attacks my other friends for one reason or another. He can be fun, and used to be more fun than he is, but really has turned into someone who is making Second Life a bit miserable for me.  How can I get him to change his ways?



Dear concerned reader:

Eddi understands full well the negative impact that a friend who is a  overly dramatic in dealing with social interactions can have for us pioneering virual world denizens. Although Eddi assumes you are a gay male since you use the (quite humorous) term drama queen, everyone in Second Life can suffer from people like this. These people  drain our energy and put a damper on our fun spirits on a regular basis with whatever crisis their overly dramatic mind manufactures.

Now, I assume this person is not a real life friend, in which case my advice might be a bit different.   I am assuming that you have known this person for a rather long period in Second Life, say over a year, and like the individual - and do not want to hurt his feelings. You could unfriend this individual of course, or remove his ability to see you when you are on (which never really works because ,people know when you have done this since they see you logging in and out anyway), but individuals like this will take any attempt by you to protect you own space as an instant affront and will turn this into their next overly dramatic episode.
Second Life friendship with drama queens is an all or nothing affair. Either you are there for them, or you are not.

Why is Second Life different than real life in this respect? The main problem in Second Life this is the Instant Message (IM)  systems itself which one can never just "turn off" without going on busy which unnecessarily isolates oneself and causes unnecessary problems such as item deliveries failing. People can send you an IM whenever they want of course, and naturally assume you will read it - and concurrently expect an instant response via IM. No response to them is a response!   If you do not deal with their drama, immediately, you are taking a postion against them  or even worst, ignoring them.  Their messages usually read someting  like this  "OH YOU ARE ON I have this real problem and need to speak with you now!" or "I know you are there I guess you are too busy to talk to me". 

Here is my advice:

1. First of all, people rarely change. Odds are you will not be able to change this person's behavior.

2. You can always refuse to answer IMs from this person.  If they ask why just say are busy designing something or having sex inworld (or any other activity)  do not have time to answer IMs right now. And only say this 45  minutes after you get an IM from this person.

3. Consider leaving this person on your friends list but muting them "by accident".  If you ever run into them in a club or anywhere else, immediately unmute them and say "Oh no, i must have muted you by accident!  No WONDER I have not heard from you lately!".  Then make sure to mute them again the following day.  They will take the hint.

4. You can drop this person as a friend by telling them that you are tired of dealing with their drama, and to cut it out since they are attacking other friends of yours. You might be doing them a huge favor.
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Finally, if you wish to invest the time you can try an assertive approach that goes someting like this.  This can be made into a win-win situation.

1. State your concern about the other person - but do not bring anyone else up. It is important that you only mention he and yourself by name.

2. Then state the reason why and how you want this individual to change-- but make sure this only concerns the two of you. Never say "so and so thinks you are this also".

3. Ask the other person what you can do to help to get them to change.
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So your conversation will be something like this.

"I need to tell you what has been concerning me lately.   You always have a crisis that you want me to listen to, and not only that, you are attacking other people I know. Athough I want us to stay friends, you are draining my energy here and to be honest, being a bit of a downer.  I want  my Second Life to be fun. I want you to change.  We cannot stay friends for long if you are going to behave like this. I want to be part of making you into a fun human being again. What can I do to help?

If you have the nerve to do this, you could benefit your friend, but it will take time and discussion.  On the other hand, he could decide to drop you, which might be the best outcome.

and that is Eddi's advice for today!






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