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I don’t know about you, but defriending (whether I’m the defriender or the defriendee) always makes me a little sad. In case you don’t know about it already, defriending in Second Life is when somebody takes you off their friends list. They disappear from yours too, so if you think to look for them there, that’s how you can tell.

I’m glad it happens quietly and behind the scenes. Any kind of announcement, it seems to me, would be like a slap in the face to go with the defriending.

Me (a la fae), Eris (off-camera), and my friend Shirley cliff-diving. I actually manage to spend time with Shirley every once in a while, so she’s not at all an absent friend.

I’ve only ever defriended someone if I haven’t talked to them in a long time and feel we’ve parted ways, or else if I’m not comfortable with the person. I once had a new friend who stood me up for a date-can you imagine? I know, it boggles the mind! ;)-after asking me to wait for her for hours, and it was clear to me that we should end the friendship when she didn’t apologize about it. Fortunately she defriended me before I had a chance to defriend her, which made it easy. It’s always nice to be defriended by someone you don’t want to see.

And then there was the boy who used to teleport to wherever I was without asking first, or in one case even when I told him I was busy and not able to see him just then. With friends like that, who needs peeping Toms and process servers? Off the list he went, with no regrets.

So I guess defriending isn’t always sad. When it’s sad is when it’s someone you like but just aren’t in touch with. There are too many wonderful people in Second Life. My friends list is full of people I’d like to see more often and am not able to. One of them, whom I haven’t talked to in, oh, maybe a month, disappeared from my friends list recently: he defriended me. How recently, you ask me? I don’t know: I never get to talk to him, so I hadn’t been looking for him on my list for some time. Besides, whenever I used to visit him and his girlfriend, I always felt like a third wheel, even though I never had any designs on him. He’s not my type (too spiky), and I’m probably not his (too flighty?), but he’s a sweet and really interesting guy, and I’ll miss his friendship. But then again, I’ve already been missing it, because I haven’t had time to keep up with him.

I guess the thing is that when you’re defriended, it feels like you’re being singled out because of something you did. In First Life, when someone doesn’t call they might just be busy, but if they delete your number from their PDA, suddenly it seems like there has to be a reason. But there doesn’t. With all due respect to the song we used to sing at Girl Scouts Camp (yes, I was a Girl Scout. And no, I don’t still have the uniform.), if you make new friends, you can’t keep the old, regardless of which is silver and which is gold, because we only have so much time and attention in our lives, and any time and attention that go to one friend or activity are coming away from some other friend or activity. This is why I get mad at people who have six or eight or more children. They may love them all, but do they have time to spend plenty of time with each one, make each one feel special, notice little things that each one may need? Wait, that’s a different rant. Never mind. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (And no, I don’t have that many brothers and sisters.)

I have no idea how to improve defriending. I think Linden Labs has it exactly right as it is, silent and missable. After all, friendships aren’t agreements that have to be voided to end. They’re fragile, sometimes unpredictable rocks on a mountainside that might stay there for the next thousand years or crack apart on the next really cold day.

Eris and our friend Tangent on his extremely cool, banana-yellow motorcycle.

When I think of my once-friend who has defriended me, I suspect he’s just clearing up his list to make it easier to click on people who have had time to spend with him. Or maybe he’s just quieting things down for himself, with fewer messages that say “that friend of yours who never calls is online. If you’re looking for an IM from her, don’t hold your breath!”. Maybe he even closed his account! I’m a little scared to check, because that would seem sad to me, even though there are many good reasons for leaving Second Life.

Here’s a suggestion for an updated Girl Scout Camp song.

Make new friends if you have time to spare
You may lose the old friends if you’re never there
A circle is round, as you will know
If a new friend’s on top someone gets squished below.

By the way, there’s a neat post about old friends at Romi Lassally’s blog, which I stumbled on when double checking the words to the Girl Scout Camp song. Maybe she went to Girl Scout Camp, too.

Oh, and a long-overdue thank you to the lovely, talented, and fun Eris Fallon for many of the in-world pictures that show up in my blog, like the two today and the one of me and Endy from my last post.