BY SHAUNA SKYE
Most of us have this niggling thing inside of us that tells us we should treat others the way we want to be treated. It’s called a conscience and, I believe, is probably what keeps most of us from simply annihilating SL noobies.
If we have a baby in first life, that child is tiny, helpless, and depends on us for everything. This little creature will wake us up at night, demand food, scream to the top of its lungs, burp, and is in perpetual need of diaper changes, baths, and new clothes. And yet we love our babies, giving all this and more — willingly. We smile at each little step they take, and beam with pride over any show of intelligence.
A noob is kind of like a baby – but not quite. Sure, noobs are “born” into the world of Second Life being awkward and not knowing how things work, but they come to us adult size, with the self interest of two year olds, the cockiness of teenagers and, usually, the sensual desires of grown ups.
On first meeting a genuine noob you may notice they click everything in sight. They flit about like some hyperactive child your neighbour gave sweets to. If the noob is a friend of a friend, you may want to be polite, to welcome them to the fine world of Second Life — but even so, they’ll still be moving and clicking things. Since they do not understand about chat range, they’re liable to walk off right as you’re in mid sentence too.
Some noobs do not remain long in the world. They appear a day or two but never pass SL infancy. One noob told me he had no idea why people danced in Second Life. He just didn’t understand the point of it, and I knew he’d probably be gone sooner than later. You see, to enjoy the pleasures of a virtual world, it is helpful to be endowed with a little something: It’s called an imagination.
One infant stage I find particularly trying is when the noob thinks everyone is a character for their amusement. These usually call SL a “game” — and since characters in a game are not real, they do not require common courtesy. I see a lot of noobs with this mindset. An example. Noob asks “How can I get money?” You explain the various ways, such as getting a job, making stuff, or even buying lindens. You let them know that lindens can be exchanged for real money, then, to show a little pity you give them a few. I admit, I have done this a couple of times. However, when I did not receive even a “thank you” before the noob teleported away, I figured it would be better to let them work for their own lindens — otherwise they’ll never learn.
We were all noobs at once time, and I think I drove a couple of olbies nuts when I first got into SL. One lady, to be kind, took me to a place where I could get rid of my non-prim hair and replace it with flexi hair. Yes, back when I was new we didn’t have prim hair . . . this was the dinosaur days, so not only did you enter the world not knowing anything, but your appearance and duck-walk made you look mental too. As picky as I am, I hated every hair this poor lady showed me. Yes, I know; anything is better than non-prim hair, right? But I was so annoyed with hair in reddish brown and yellow blonde I said “I’ll just keep this default hair.” That woman later admitted I frustrated her to no end.
On my second day in SL I went exploring. I figured out how to search and somehow landed in the middle of a futuristic roleplay. There I was, non-prim hair and walking like a duck, and approaching some guy on a street corner at random. He was decked out like a vampire . . . and man, he looked so much cooler than I did. Without knowing him at all, or realizing I was interrupting a roleplay setting, I just started a big conversation asking noob questions . . . what a pain I probably was. And yet . . . he was nice to me anyway!
Ok, so we cut genuine noobs some slack. We were all there once, and we try to remember that fact when they barge in on us. And yet, I must admit that if I’m faced with a day old noob moving like a Mexican jumping bean and walking out of chat range when I’m talking . . . it can do my head in after a while.
Thankfully there are many people in SL who are more patient than I am. There are kind souls who deliberately seek out new people to help and teach them. I take my hat off to these people.
Hey, not all noobs act like I describe. I’ve met some who did not behave as if everyone around them were “characters.” I’ve also come across people who have been in SL forever who are beyond irritating, and who do not even practice basic SL Etiquette. But yes, in general, I try to be nice to noobs even when they’re annoying. I’ll just let someone else mentor them.