Alaric and I spend a lot of time roaming the world and initiating contact with avatars all over the grid. We meet a diverse cross section of SL, and I think we try not to limit our interaction to those who are like minded. Rather, there are times we seek out those who may have different ideas or life experiences; these people have broadened our outlook on the world and ourselves.
That said, it is an interesting thing for me to see people who are limited in their ability to understand what someone else is going through…even though they themselves have been through it. Being new in SL is the epitomotic example (yes that’s right, I make up words. Deal with it). Noobs are often ridiculed and derided for their behavior or appearance in SL, and rarely in a lighthearted way. Yet all of us who are players of this game have been there…and we consequently understand what a wickedly high learning curve there is to become barely proficient in the world, let alone an expert. As a noob, we are awash with a myriad of unfamiliar sights, sounds, commands, buttons, people, and places, as we are trying to learn an interface that is a confusing amalgamation of buttons and drops downs, and menus, right click left click double click? Even online in-world etiquette provides endless opportunities for noob faux pas.
And yet, even though we have all been the new guy, many of us seem to lack the ability to empathize with our fellow avatars who are in this situation. Which brings me to my point. In a world where we have actually been through what the other guy is going through, experienced for ourselves the ridiculous hoops and obstacles that are put in the path of that individual to be able to accomplish even the smallest task, where achieving simple things are a triumph, if we cannot find it in ourselves to find compassion and assist these people, how are we ever going to do it in the “real” world, a world where the consequences of failure are often dire?
SL offers a unique opportunity for all of us to become proficient at these critical skills compassion and empathy, and to do it at very little cost to ourselves. Putting yourself out there and making yourself available to others can help hone (or learn!) these most important skills. Personal responsibility in life is important, but when others need real assistance and we can give it so that they can also learn and grow, it helps us all as individuals and as a society.
Help a noob today…and save the world.