I had a situation the other day in VMK which got me thinking. Now it's happened before several times but not to this extent.
I was in a guest room and one of my VMK friends who is on another board was in the room with me. I don't know her outside of VMK or the other board. She had a couple friend in the room as well but I didn't know any of them. Anyway, I must have come into the middle of an already ongoing conversation because they were chatting and I had no idea what about.
So I said hi to my friend and was about to go find another friend to hang out with since I felt like I wasn't inside the circle, but then my friend started asking me some trading questions. So I stuck around to answer them. They weren't really significant questions, just questions like is this a good trade or is my hat worth this, etc. etc.
After a while, I realized the other 2 friends were quiet the whole time we were talking about these trades. It kind of felt like one of those awkward silences like I was intruding on something. So I figured, either I should go, or say something to break the ice. I didn't want to be rude to my friend so I aske the other two how they were doing. Both responded they were good. So I just continued by asking if they've been playing VMK for a while or if they were pretty new, what games they liked, etc. etc. Ended up staying in the room for 2 hours just chatting away.
The next day I got a PM on the other board from my friend. Her first line said, "Thank you so very very much." And I thought to myself...hmm...did I give her something free last night? But then I realized there was a huge chunk of a paragraph that followed explaining why she was thanking me.
As I read it, I almost started to cry. Basically it said this... One of her 2 friends that was in the room was having a very difficult time at home. VMK was her escape from reality because her friends on VMK didn't know who she was. They couldn't see what she looked like behind the avatar. They couldn't pass judgement by seeing her lifestyle, her looks, what she did or did not have, etc. Her parents were bearing down on her pretty hard about everything from school to chores at this time. Her real life friends were ignoring her. Basically she felt like she was worthless and life wasn't worth it anymore.
The conversation I had walked in on was her telling the other two about how miserable she was and how she didn't want her life to be like this anymore. Basically she was hinting at suicide. And she is only 14.
Apparently she has been in my rooms a few times or has crossed my path in Main Street or has seen me in her other friends rooms. Sadly, her title wasn't one that I recognize and usually I'm good at remembering people I meet even if for only a few minutes. Apparently though I've always been nice to her and have always answered whatever questions she had, no matter how trivial they were. And the night before, she had been so affected by me not ignoring her, but rather talking to her, that she had a renewed interest in life again. It cheered her up enough to forget whatever real problems she was having.
Suffice to say I was pretty moved by this. I know sometimes our actions (even in a virtual game) can have a profound affect on others. But having it actually happen like this really got to me and made me think. It scares me as well, knowing how easily it could have gone the other way. Had I instead made the choice to leave rather than stay.
Well, that's my deep thought for the day. Thanks for listening...er...reading.