Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Voice Or Not To Voice, That Is The Controversial Question

Someone innocently asks, "Can someone explain to me why they dont like to voice? For me voicing is good cuz my typing really sucks."

The responses can range from objective, factual and kind to splutteringly subjective and outraged. Text vs. voicing.  It's a surprisingly hot topic.

I think that is an excellent question, one posed in this instance without judgment, unfair bias and negativity, and one that is not as simple as it appears at first glance. This question really caught my attention during my cyber travels, so I've done some questioning of my own, some observation, some discussion and a lot of learning. Fascinating stuff, the culture and sociology of the internet and virtual worlds. Keeps the minds of lay sociologists, human observers and the naturally curious just a'whirlin'.

The aspect of the question that became increasingly of interest to me was why and how voicing and texting was turning into a large social issue instead of just a tool preference. I discovered that there is an actual social divide fraught with some strong feelings on the choice of voicing and texting. In some ways, it's almost like the gay vs. straight, or religious vs. atheist, pro-choice vs. pro-life or fill-in-the-blank social issue of the virtual world, albeit on a smaller and slightly loss volatile scale. A line has been drawn in the sand.

I think one of the biggest issues of virtual worlds is one of exclusion. Voice is one of those things that seems so simple to an enthusiastic, extroverted voicer, "it's one of the options available to me and I take it and use it and you don't have to, so what's the big deal?" 

What the voicer (and not all voicers are extroverted or enthusiastic, I'm just using extremes to make my point) may not realize is how unpleasantly exclusionary and marginalizing voice can be for introverted, incapacitated or shy texters or texters who literally cannot voice, so that essentially voice vs. text was not actually a choice.

Some people may think, "well alright, then you texters go hang with texters and you voicers go hang out with voicers, problem solvved," which, I will be honest, was my initial go-to reaction until I gave it a bit more thought and talked with more texters and most importantly, stopped and watched, and even thought back to real-life situations in which exclusion was an issue...anyone remember high school?

It's a powerful thing marginalizing a group of people.

This kind of conversation fascinates the ever-lovin' daylights out of me.

I started a thread in the Psi Shrinkers group over at RLetc.com called "Fear of the Other" where voicing, among several other virtual world social issues, was discussed.

This is the OP:

12-04-2010, 02:47 PM

The original version of this paper was submitted for a June, 2002 Doctor of Ministry course, "The Ministry of Reconciliation," at King's College and Seminary.
--Fear of the Other by George Byron Koch

Voice is meant for people who like to voice. That's all. I think the important thing is for voicers to be sensitive to the concerns of texters, if they want to be courteous residents of Second Life, that is.

I voice with my friends in non-sexual situations a lot. We just make sure we are not in a public area with texters who would feel left out of the conversation or "spammed" by the voicers in open chat. (Even group voice conference calls, while more polite than voicing in Local Chat in a mixed area, can be inconsiderate if you are in an area populated by texters and voicers because the texters notice the void and again, it leaves them out. It's like speaking in French in front of non-French speakers. If it leaves people out and they notice, it's rude.)

I love the freedom from typing that voice gives me and the natural, easy flow of conversation and the laughter and the ability to pick up on verbal or aural cues, and everything else, but I get the appeal of text and I get the annoyance of the texters when voicers thoughtlessly voice in public around texters.

I have voiced in sexual situations. I have voiced when helping a new resident. (Instructions are so much easier to give in voice when you commit a chunk of time to help a frustrated newbie over that huge initial-learning curve in Second Life.) I've voiced in Cypris Chat playing Pictionary with ESLers practicing their English. I have voiced with friends while playing (legal) poker. I've voiced with friends while just standing around being yappy, but in an area where we were not bothering other people because it was just us.

I think the consensus may seem a little skewed because the threads and blogs in which I talk about texting and voicing have sexual themes and because people tend to default to sex as a primary example when talking about Second Life and because the consensus is made up of a fairly small pool of people and most of the pool is made up of predominant texters. Voice is for people who like to voice. Period.

I do think a good point is made about voice increasing one's ability to pick up on the nuances that text cannot provide.

Vive la différence.

Reposts. LeeHere Absent, Feb 17, 2011   http://gotvirtual.net/community/threads/thats-what-she-said.772/page-6#post-24472   LeeHere Absent, Feb 17, 2011  http://gotvirtual.net/community/threads/thats-what-she-said.772/page-6#post-24473  LeeHere Absent, Feb 17, 2011  http://gotvirtual.net/community/threads/thats-what-she-said.772/page-6#post-24476  LeeHere Absent, Feb 17, 2011 http://gotvirtual.net/community/threads/thats-what-she-said.772/page-6#post-24478  LeeHere Absent, Feb 18, 2011 http://gotvirtual.net/community/threads/thats-what-she-said.772/page-8#post-24660

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