Drama: we’ve all been there, whether as its cause or victim. But what exactly is “drama? According to Urbandictionary.com, drama is “A way of relating to the world in which a person consistently overreacts to or greatly exaggerates the importance of benign events.” So how do you deal with drama? Can it be prevented ?
Almost all the people interviewed for this article had experienced drama in SL. Why? One cause is simple boredom. Nancy Vinciolo notes that “because many people don’t work, build, or role play, they fill their free time with things that lead to drama. Just like real life, if you have nothing to do, you will create problems for entertainment.” Another reason for drama is summed up by Fenix Muhindra (a RL counselor and teacher): “The vast majority of people in SL tend to be playing a ‘game’ without taking into consideration that real people are having real feelings through their avatars.” Nicodemos Diabolito agrees: “the keyboard, screen, the avatar itself, and the roles we create, distance us. Hiding behind all this technology, we are able to forget our responsibility and hit hard the one we want to hurt.”
Is SL drama different from RL drama? Possibly, since at the end of the day you can turn off the computer and poof! Goodbye drama. On the other hand, some people say that “what happens in SL, I feel in RL.” Over time, though, it may be possible to become less “dramatic.” Nancy Vinciolo suggests that “You start to desensitize. I personally used to get upset over someone not answering an IM. Now I have people defriend me and curse at me, and I just let it roll off my back.”
Can you live a Second Life free from drama? The consensus is: if your friends are overly dramatic, find new friends. This approach worked for Liir MacArthur: “I now have a very small group of friends because they don’t bring drama into my Second Life.” However, as in RL, some drama may go with the territory. As Hiroku Kamachi says: “You can live in SL without drama if you are a hermit. When people start to feel emotions in SL, drama is inevitable.” To minimize drama, Fenix Muhindra suggests being “clear in communications with others and holding off on making judgments for or against people until you have time to really get to know them.”
In the end, the prevalence of drama in SL may come from the very nature of this virtual world. In it, we can look and live as we want, doing all manner of things not possible in RL. It’s a world of tremendous freedom and imaginative possibility. This freedom can lead to the unrealistic expectation of a world where basic values of human kindness and respect don’t have to apply, a world where we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions and face their consequences. And when others don’t fit into this fantasy of personal freedom, conflict follows, with legitimate human emotion being discredited and dismissed as “drama.” As Nicodemos Diabolito puts it: “We are not puppets playing a game, but real people exploring an additional forum to live life. SL is a place for dreams to come true, those dreams or sides of us that are not possible in RL. But whenever people meet, they carry all their hurts, hopes, and wounds along with them. Then when expectations are not fulfilled we react and BANG! There is drama.”
In the human drama of SL, there are heroes, heroines, villains, damsels-in-distress, sidekicks, extras, and props. Which role will you play?