How to Behave in Second Life


After almost 9 months inworld I think I’ve finally cracked the social mores. I’ve always thought that the residents behaved extremely oddly in their social interactions, but I thought it was just that I’m just such an odd fish that it was me. Now I realise it’s not, it’s them..

So here’s a brief rundown on how to behave in SL if you want to fit in.


1. It’s quite ok (in fact, it’s expected) to leave a conversation part way through by just ignoring the person you were talking to. The next time (if there is a next time) you make no mention of your rudeness and do it again. Whatever you do, do not end it as you would in real life.. i.e. ‘have to go I’ve got things to do’ etc etc Remember, this is IM not a phonecall, a face to face meeting or anything resembling human interaction, so manners don’t apply.

2. It is expected that you will start a conversation with someone and then after a couple of sentences leave it to them to carry the load. When you can, particularly after a particularly engaging response from the person you are conversing with, make sure you type ‘lol’ and nothing more. The last thing you want to do is show you’re interested in the person you’re speaking to by actually conversing with them. BTW lol is a great way to end a conversation as described in point1. In RL conversations you’d laugh at was said and then make a response… so just laughing leaves the conversation hanging.



Your friends list in SL bears no relation to actual friendship. Once you learn this, life is a lot easier. Once you realise that the people online the same time as you won’t actually acknowledge your presence because you’re not currently useful – and you begin to do the same – you’ll begin to fit in.

You’ve got to stop thinking of these people as friends and begin to think of them as business cards.

I used to think of SL as one big social gathering, and my friends list showed the people I knew who were in the room with me.


As I discovered that is completely and utterly incorrect and leads to the correct feeling of being snubbed. Thing is that you’re not being snubbed by friends, you’re being snubbed by sad inadequates (see my comment about geeks and shut-ins below)… So you too must learn to see these people on your list as nothing more than possible future useful contacts.

Someone used the term ‘geeks and shut-ins’ and it is soooo appropriate. Neither have social skills and it shows.

People seem to offer friendship for 3 reasons:

1. You look like you could be useful to them at some point. You’ll never get even a ‘hello’ from them again – until they want to you to buy whatever it is they’re selling, or provide an audience when they ‘perform’ or if they ever get so lonely that they scrape the bottom of the barrel and clamour for your attention (actually quite unlikely, they’re more likely to go out and find more suckers to add to their list). This should always be your primary reason for offering friendship. Don’t be shy as you never know when people will come in handy to help you achieve your selfish goals. It also help you fulfill the second reason, because if your dysfunctional enough to offer friendship for this reason, odds on you’ll meet the criteria for 2 as well.

2. They are sad human beings who need to feel loved by having an unmanageable friends list. They’ll never speak to you again, and after a few days will completely forget who you are, but it comforts them to know they’re popular. It also gives them a chance to tell people how popular they are as they can complain about how many people they have cluttering up their friends list. You should aim to have at least 60 people on your list to be considered normal (It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember who they are – what is important is they’re bloating your friends list). That way you may actually receive a few IMs from people and can ignore others by telling them you are swamped by IMs and they’re not as important as the others you need to respond to.

3. These are the people who actually want to get to know you and be your friend. They like talking to you and will always say hello when you’re online. Sadly, I think I’ve seen more unicorns than these. Of course to begin with it could just be that you’ve fallen into the hands of a ‘player’ who wants to waste your time, but mostly they’re gone after a few days..

If you’re not a geek or shut in, are feeling a little impish and don’t believe me, try a couple of my favourite scenarios..

1. The ‘I’m sorry I’m not taking friendship offers right now..’

Strictly speaking after a 5 minute conversation an offer of friendship is a little presumptuous.. The idea here is just like in rl, they know who you are and if they do want to develop any kind of non-exploitative relationship with you, they’ll make contact by dropping you the occasional IM – whether you’re online or not.. After all, and contrary to popular opinion, IM does work the same way as a phone..either someone is there and you speak, or you leave a message. If they can’t be bothered remembering your name and looking you up to say hello, they’re not interested.

2. The ‘are you just a typical SLloser?’

Add them to your friends list and wait for the future contact – and there’ll be none. With these, I give them a week max as by the end of a week it’s highly unlikely they can remember anything about you without referring to their notes, so if they haven’t contacted you by then they never will (unless they want something – see friendship point 1 above).

If I’m feeling a little mischevious I’ll send a couple of hello IMs… just as an example to them of how humans actually behave when they have social skills. I have an almost 100% hit rate on people not learning that friendship actually requires both parties to initiate contact and conversation.

So there you have it, in a not-so nutshell. I hope this help you in your quest to assimilate (or not) into the broader SL community.

Always remember, they won’t change so you have to.

/me shuts mouth and climbs down from soap box.

Click here to go to Part 1 of the real etiquette guide

Click here for Part 2

and I think it may be time to update this and do part 3… any contributions welcome 🙂


3 Responses to “How to Behave in Second Life”

  1. 1 Petros Miklos

    Wow… sounds like a very harsh approach to ‘friendships’ in SL… but I have to hand it to you, you do get it right in many points, and it might just be me focusing on my honest friends in my ‘friend’ list instead of looking to all the other ones I’ve stumbled upon, that makes me feel that way 🙂
    But very interesting how-to post 😉

  2. 2 Alexia

    Treasure your friends, life is too short for the rest 🙂

  3. 3 Petros Miklos

    Amen to that!

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