Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?

How is it that people consider themselves shy in SL? You know you’ve either said it or know someone who has: “Please don’t think I’m stand-offish, I’m just shy. Feel free to IM me – I love making friends.”

Believe it or not, I use to be uberly shy in RL. True story! Today Hawks can testify that he hasn’t known me as the shy RL Jelly of yesteryears. I believe I owe a lot of my shell breaking to SecondLife. Afterall SL gives us that sense of anonymousness. Hah! Try saying that 10 times fast – anonymousness!!!

I guess I believe the phrase “I’m shy” coming from anyone in SL is  an overly used excuse for other real reasons. Was that shy lil ole’ you at the “Lingerie Party”? Was that shy lil ole’ you bloggity blogging your outspoken opinion on your shy lil bloggity blog?

This post comes from the fact that I’ve finally had enough about hearing “shy” used everywhere in an anonymous virtual world where a girl can play a male avatar for four years and get away with it, where you can be a bunny, hell don’t stop at being a bunny have sex with it and make it your bitch but while you’re accomplishing all that… don’t tell me that you are shy, ever!

With SL being as anonymous as you make it, how exactly are you shy? Is it really shyness or is it something else? My belief is that most people feel star struck in SL when it comes to those that they deem SLebrities, popular, in-crowd or A-list. Then of course the automatic reply for not saying hello is: “Oh I’m too shy to IM them.” This of course not being every case.

Is the word “shy” used as an excuse to not invite others into your slife? If this is the case, SL may not be the right virtual world for you. SL has no goals, no achievements for grid exploration, leveling up, or number of kills… it *is* a social network, just one great big virual chat room for the spreading of your societal wings.

Or just mayhapsibly “shy” is not the proper term but you *are* definitely something. Mayhaps you’re hesitant in acting or speaking through lack of self-confidence? Well that’s not necessarily shyness, that’s being diffident. Or quite possibly you could be coy, implying a pretended shyness?

I’ve seen it on Plurk a lot where someone (SL peeps, mind you) will chat up a storm, be in everyone else’s convos, replying to every new thread, starting their own, but will say “I’m shy, but please IM me” or “I wish I hung out with more people but I’m really shy”. Did you ever consider by saying that you are shy and requesting that others initiate any conversation that you are asking them to do the very thing that you are so afraid to do yourself?

Nobody likes rejection, but we’re all human (unless of course, you’re really a Greenie) and mostly share the same fears. Look at it this way, what is the worse the thing that could happen if you actually broke the chains of the shyness that you claim bind you? You IM someone and they don’t reply or reject you in some way? Well then, it’s a good thing you can always fall back on your *opinionated* bloggity blog, huh?

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17 Responses to “Have you ever been alone in a crowded room?”

  1. Ok well I just HAVE to reply, as this post could have been written like it was EXACTLY about me.

    I always say i’m shy, not cos i’m a social retard but because it’s far easier to say “I’m shy!” that it is “Hi, i’m Willis, i’m a great big ole lummox who lacks self confidence and doesn’t like to bother anyone”.. it just doesn’t have the same ring.. does it?

    I don’t think shy is the right term, you’re right. I uberly lack self confidence AND I have a blog AND I can chat up a storm.. but the thing that gets me is that I *would* love to talk to more people out there (or in there even) but what makes me hesitant isn’t a fear of rejection, reject me.. I might cry but i’ll most certainly live.. it’s that I would HATE HATE HATE for me to IM someone and have them in another window with another person and say “ugh, Willow is iming me…” etc etc etc, and why? Because I care. Why do I care. I WISH I KNEW!

    I’m starting not to care though, if that’s any consolation. I agree it’s tarded, it IS the kind of place where you CAN talk to anyone about anything and who cares?? You aren’t going to meet most of these people EVER.. but some of us do care, cos well.. maybe I am a social retard (someone fetch me a butter knife kkthx).

    I decided the other week i’d start not being bothered by peoples douchey actions as much hoping that in turn i’d start to not really feel like the self concious pleb I really am.

    So I guess if it really bugs you, instead of saying “I’m shy! I couldn’t do that” I might start replacing it with “I’m actually really self concious and although i’m not a complete social retard and it’s not really about rejection, I would hate for you to think bad of me cos I really care, so I might just let you come to me instead of me come to you cos trust me, you’ll NEVER be bothering me, because I actually do bugger all”

    But man, that’s sure gunna fill up that 140 max quota more, innit???

  2. …what Willis said…

  3. I nodded my head through every word of Willis’ comment.

  4. Wow this post is going to give Jelly a hearty fine breakfast!

    I think I see what Jelly is saying though. Er, I’m not shy, for the record. I usually find myself in the category of either a) I don’t know what I want to say to you so I’m not saying much of anything and not likely apologizing for it or b) I’m not particularly in the mood for human contact right now (in which case I tend not to be anywhere I’m going to have to be social).

    Do I lack confidence? Sure. All the time. But I happen to know that you do too, at least on occasion. So that makes us even. Either that or you’re an arrogant twit who doesn’t realize you should be more humble so I don’t give much of a crap what you think of me, or anything. And I just might tell you so, but more likely I just won’t bother with you.

    I think Jelly is saying, in her gentle encouraging way, that SL is the ideal place to push yourself out of your “shyness” because, really, in this environment you’ve got virtually nothing to lose. That’s what makes SL kick ass. It’s ideal for social risk taking.

    Okay, I’m going to go dress like a bunny and have virtual sex with a turtle now while sporting two glocks and wearing mideviel armor. Bye!

  5. I guess I should say I’m self conscious instead of shy. And I definitely am introverted. I figure shy is an easier term because if I say self conscious then the other person will say ..about what?? Why?? etc, etc and if I wanna tell you about what and why, I probably will without being asked. So, yeah, to what Willis said and a little more of my own. 😀

  6. I agree with you Myg, I didn’t mean my comment to sound snotty to Jelly, totally wasn’t! It’s a good post and a great thinking point, and it made me think 😀

    I’m just NOT a risk taker, in either world. I suck 😀

  7. ditto to what Willow said. I would attenpt to clarify and put my own spin on it, but why, when Willis and a few others said it so succinctly.

    Maybe moody, too, is a good word. I’ve been known to party and get kinda nutz. Other times, I just wanna be wuved. LOL

    Ok, maybe schizo is another good word…hmmm…

    I think all of the above.

  8. I think it is a very real and easy way to describe how hesitant you are to do all those things that were talked about. This post was one I encouraged Jelly to write because *I* struggle with these feelings. I try to tell her I’m shy all the time, but she scoffs at me. You’re right. Perhaps it’s not shyness, but more fear of rejection as well as fear of being bothersome, like so many have already explained.

    Specifically when speaking about SL, I, myself, always feel like everyone else is busy doing something and I’m the only one standing around hesitant to strike up a convo. Chances are they are or not. But I won’t know until I IM them and vice versa. Sooooo, I’m gonna try to be all bold and stuff 😀 wish me luck… but *please* don’t reject me… pretty please?

  9. I get the gist of the blog and I can relate to a point since I struggled with shyness as a child. But it was somewhat mean spirited and you may have lost some readers because of this. Lol I hate to be a critic but one line in particular bugged me:

    “Is the word “shy” used as an excuse to not invite others into your slife? If this is the case, SL may not be the right virtual world for you. ”

    Isn’t part of the idea of SL to create a Second LIfe thats your own? So how can one define what is the right and wrong way to be in SL?

    Anyway all criticism aside, I actually found this to be an intriguing entry and read it from beginning to end.

  10. Paraphrasing Willow:

    I always say i’m shy, because i am socially challenged but it’s far easier to say “I’m shy!” than it is “Hi, i’m CronoCloud Creeggan/CC/CCC/Crono, i’m a great big ole lummox who lacks self confidence and doesn’t like to bother anyone”.. it just doesn’t have the same ring.. does it?

    Here’s an example, Willow is in my friends list, and I often wonder how things are going for her in RL and SL, but I don’t IM her. Not because I don’t like Willow, but because she’s THE Willow Zander and I don’t want to bother her while she’s hanging out with the “cool people” or doing important Willow bloggity stuffage. I STILL call stuffage stuffage because of Willow.

    I’m less “shy” in Group chats, it’s actually hanging out with people or direct IMing that gives me problems.

  11. ♥JellyBean♥ Says:

    @Willow –
    I love you so hard! ❤

    @Myg –
    Right! Thank you for *getting* me. LOL

    @Elizabeth –
    Mean Spirited is my native American name, how’d ya know? And honestly I don’t see anything mean spirited about this post. And as for this…
    “Is the word “shy” used as an excuse to not invite others into your slife? If this is the case, SL may not be the right virtual world for you. ”

    I completely stand by this. SL is a social space, how else would you describe it? It’s not WoW, UO or LOTR… it stands alone as the biggest chatroom eva’R! So if you are not a social creature, then I agree, SL isn’t the place you should be. I’m not telling anyone how to live their slives, I’m merely offering suggestions – but hell if I start making a bunch of sense, I hope to be an aspiring SL SLIFE GURU!

  12. I’m not shy, I’m simply a social idiot and when I first start to talk to someone am the one who will say *something* that most likely ends up with an empty reply. Can’t blame them really, I do say some pretty stupid stuff. I can blog (wordy, but I can! shuddup jelly!) I can give my opinions (not always right) I can even chat with complete strangers as long as it’s in an environment I am comfortable in.

    What I have a hard time doing is making the first contact. What if I am bothering them? Surely they have something WAY more important going on then getting an IM from me. What if I say something really really stupid?

    that’s not shy, but it is a hella lot easier to say “I can be shy” then it is to say “I can be a social idiot who will most likely insert foot without even realizing it on first contact so please give me another chance”

    Oh, and I have ran from slcelebrities. Not because they have a name but because I admire then so much then I kick myself and wonder “hey, maybe they have idiot complex like I do!?” then I kick myself agian and think “idiot, that’s why you run!”

    *stops babbling* Good post Jelly, you always get right to it, sure wish I had that ability!

  13. While I agree that SL is mainly one huge chat room of dress up, for some of us it’s a creative outlet. So being social isn’t really our main focus. If SL was nothing more than a chatroom, I would have left years ago. Actually I probably would have never downloaded it.

    Because of that I am a bit hesitant on starting up a conversation with most of the people on my friends list, as it’s mostly other content creators. I know how my projects can get way far behind the more people I talk to and never know how up for distractions people are. One thing that would be nice is if you could have a visual notation on your friends list for “busy”, “distract me”, or “busy but chat to me anyways”.

    I don’t remember if I’ve ever said I’m shy, so I doubt I’m exactally the target audience. But I hate small talk, which is what big group chatting usually is. I hate it when people ask you how you are doing when they don’t actually really want to know. I much prefer having a talk about something even mildly interesting than a conversaion about nothing at all.

    It’s kind of why I’m more social on plurk than other places. I can pick and choose which conversations I want to join. If I’m not too fussed about the topic, I don’t have to respond.

  14. Elizabeth Hallstrom Says:

    I think I need to clarify a bit Jellybean and Luth is kind of talking for me as well I think LOL. Let me first say I am not shy particularly in voice and people get nervous if I am quiet haha. But thats not my point (LOL), I came into SL and stayed more than 5 minutes because I found a burgeoning electronic scene in SL in early 07 (and then met a guy who also contributed to my return, ha). And many of these electronic music junkies were also content creators and not many of them rezzed in because of the chatroom concept of SL. So i would have again say for some SL is a social thing but for many its not.

  15. “Even though most people want to be seen as competent in at least some circumstances, some are unwilling to get there by adopting [competence tactics]. some folks experience frequent or chronic shyness- they tend to feel tense, worried or awkward in unfamiliar social interactions, even while merely imagining or anticipating social interaction. Shy people are anxiously self-preoccupied: In social situations, they spend a lot of time thinking about their feelings, their behaviors, and how they come across to others.”
    – Chapter 4: Presenting Self from Social Psychology: Goals in Interaction

    The point in me posting this text-book description is to first emphasize that people use the term incorrectly, as presented in the original post and subsequent comments. Second, based on this definition, you still can have truly shy people in SecondLife. I am shy in real life and in SL- I have great difficulty approaching people first in open chat or IM beyond a simple ‘hello’, as I become wrapped up in self-impressions. Which, as presented, is important- this is a social network, and impressions make a difference.

    However, there are important aspects to note about this, the first being the term “unfamiliar”. While there is still a degree of social awkwardness that results from being shy, an environment or situation that a person is familiar and comfortable with will evoke a different stream of thinking. If someone is comfortable with lingerie, for example, they may be more open with talking to others. A lingerie party is also an atypical event, so people may not ascribe “mistakes” to that person but rather the situation, as opposed to a normal meeting. I am personally most comfortable approaching people first and “normally” engaging through roleplay, as I play a character, rather than my avatar.

    The second issue lies in the projection between the user and the avatar. Many users see their SL-selves as an extension or embodiment of themselves, so they are careful about how they act. As such, it is not so anonymous- people may not know your name or how to find you, but they can still “know” you, which can be a vulnerable position to be in.

    So, should truly shy people not play SL? Actually, studies have found that using an avatar and ‘practicing’ such interactions actually benefits people with chronic shyness and similar challenges. The matter probably rests on each individual, as some may benefit while others may become even more tense and anxious.

    Bearing that all in mind, yes, even though I’ve had my moments in the limelight and come off well socially, I am shy in SL. 🙂

  16. And fark, I screwed up the html tags on that one. x_x

  17. Joshua Walsh Says:

    I would argue that while SL is indeed a social space, there are plenty of non-social, very genuinely shy people, who enrich SL by doing most of the building. If you’ve met a lot of builders, I’m sure you know what I mean.

    Most of my friends are builders, and most of them are very solitary people (and yeah, mostly shy, even in SL).

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