One of the things that I love about my job is I get to meet a lot of people. As a consultant there are always new clients to meet, stakeholders to understand, and extended teams to work with. Most projects I work on also have a component of user research, where I get to learn about people in relation to This Thing that I'm working with. At conferences and as a teacher, there are always new faces to meet and new folks to learn from.
It's not really surprising that I carry-over this interest in meeting people to my personal time as well. However, since I am an introvert, and it takes me awhile to recharge after meeting a lot of new folks. I'm always exhausted from a conference even if I'm not speaking. Making connections is hard work, but I also find it rewarding. Which I think is why I pursue making connections when I'm off the clock too.
One of the things that I really enjoy about being in SecondLife is getting to meet new people. It's not just the "I just talked with someone from France!" type of interactions. It's watching someone's personality come into focus as you get to know them better.
In SL, there's the disadvantage of not being about to see facial expressions or hear tones of voice. I (usually, okay, sometimes) know when someone is teasing me when we are chatting at a conference reception. But in-world it's harder to tell. I end up reading more into what is being said, trying to puzzle out who it is that is on the other screen from me.
I find that I bring more assumptions with me about who someone is when I'm in world than in the real world. I think it's because I don't have the physical clues to tell me about the person. You can't rely on outward demeanor and appearance to help you get a feel for who someone is.
It's as if everyone is initially a blob of clay. As I talk with them, and we get to know each other, I'm able to sketch out a sense of who the person is. I know that I am never going to form a picture that is accurate of who they are. I only get to see what they want me to see. And in a world like SecondLife you never know someone's motivations for being there or how honestly they are representing themselves.
But I really enjoying filling in the details and learning who someone is. And I've found that when I have gaps, I often fill them in with what I would do or expect until I learn otherwise. I give people the benefit of the doubt and assume the best.