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Drama Mamas: The case of the friendly hermit

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

WoW may be both massive and multiplayer, but many of us play it like a single-player game with chat channels. In fact, there are quite a few people who use guild chat and whispers as chat rooms, getting very little playing done during some sessions. And some of us like to either play or chat, but not both. Playing without an invisibility option can be troublesome for those who tend toward hermitism. Hermitness? Hermitacity! Oh, let's just get to the letter.
Dear Drama Mamas,

As a RL introvert, I find it very hard to make friends and feel happiest when I'm on my own. (I went through several years of high school without so much as a single friend and was very happy that way!) But online is very, very different. I find it easy to be myself in guild and general chat and so on, and as a result I attract a lot of friends.

Because of this, often when I login, three to five people will whisper me at once, each expecting to carry a full-on conversation with me.


Lately I've been feeling a lot more reclusive than normal and have left my guild. I just want to play with my best friend, who has no expectations for my chattiness or anything and doesn't make me feel overwhelmed at all. In fact, she's the only person I can talk to without feeling drained. But when other people whisper me I -- even though it's only online -- often just feel overwhelmed and want to be left alone to do my own thing. They don't even give me time to stick up DND!

When that happens, I don't want to ignore them, so I whisper them saying, "I'm sorry, but right now I don't feel like talking," or be even more honest and say, "I'm sorry, but right now a lot of people are talking to me and I feel overwhelmed, so I'm going to put DND up," and I'll often add a "Take care!" so I don't sound like I'm angry or something. I've had to do this more because somehow I've attracted people who are opposite to me in that they will talk and talk and talk.

... But people frequently take offense when I say I want to be left alone, and some still whisper me even when I have DND up! (I usually ignore whispers when that happens, which has angered one of my friends.) I've tried initiating conversations with them when I feel up to being chatty, hoping that would ease it, but that often just encourages them to whisper me more. It's gotten to the point where I don't even want to initiate any conversations because I never feel like chatting to anyone but my best friend anymore. I just feel so drained from it, and I've started hiding on alts and so on.

I do like these people, and want to be their friend, but I know better than to expect a friendship to still happen without my participation -- it's unfair on them. But I'm just not cut out for it!

What do I do? Am I being rude in my request? Am I allowed to ignore whispers if busy/do not disturb is up, or was he right to be angry? Is there a better way I can handle this? I feel it's unfair on both of us to participate in a conversation when I just want to be quiet -- am I wrong? Or am I wrong for wanting so much time either alone or just with a single friend?

With gratitude,

Overly Introverted

Drama Mama Robin: Overly, I know exactly how you feel -- which may seem weird since I run a guild of 1,200+ and love to stream my adventures. I go through periods of extreme social activity and times when I just want to play the game I love without having to be "up" for other people. It's not them, it's me. Of course, I've already outed myself as clinically different, so I have an excuse ... kinda. But this is really a common problem, even among those more extroverted than we are. Everyone wants a little social downtime -- which is why an Invisible status for Real ID would be so popular. This leads me to an important question ...

Do you participate in Real ID? If so, you really need to turn that off. You can use parental controls to opt out completely, or just politely tell your friends you are no longer participating and then defriend them all (but your best). Hopefully, you're not, so that you don't have to take this step as it may annoy some of your already-annoyed friends.

Overly, you are obviously a friendly, fun person when you do want to chat, or else people wouldn't want to hang out with you. Yours is kind of the opposite problem of the antisocial guy who wanted friends but was having trouble getting and keeping them. I don't think roleplaying a nasty person will help you in any way, however. So adjusting the advice for him just won't work here.

You seem to be handling talking to your chatty friends pretty well. The drama isn't coming from what you are saying. It's coming from the fact that you are putting yourself in a position to say it at all. I'm sure you don't go to a party and then ask everyone to not talk to you. It's the same situation in Azeroth. Don't go to the same virtual space as your chatty friends when you aren't feeling sociable.

I'm not saying to play another game or not game at all. But if you want to WoW without your chatty friends, then make yourself inaccessible to them. The solution is really simple: solo or play a duo with your best friend on another server when you aren't feeling up to socializing. Good luck and happy hermiting!

Drama Mama Lisa: I feel you, Overly Introverted, I really feel you. Until quite recently, I was a one-character type of gamer, and suggesting that I play an alt on low-key evenings would have been tantamount to telling me not to log in at all. I do have a couple of ideas for you, though, as well as some food for thought.
  • Stop making explanations and excuses. As your experience has shown you, other players don't really heed your pleas for quiet time; after all, as Robin points out, you've just voluntarily logged in to a social setting. Explanations simply don't sink in, so don't keep trying harder or trying better -- stop trying this tactic at all.
  • Use a DND macro. Create a DND macro that's bound to a key you can easily smack the very second you log in, when you're planning a peaceful gaming session. Because your DND status automatically clears itself when you log out, you'll need to be able to reset it immediately when you log in, before anyone can send you a whisper.
  • Create an effective DND message. Be matter of fact: "AFK frequently; messages answered later this evening," or "Focused on farming, chat windows hidden; messages answered later this evening," or anything that clearly informs others that you are not monitoring chat in any way.
  • Follow up. Did you see how both of my DND message suggestions include "messages answered later this evening"? So do it! I can see that you do value these friendships, so stretch yourself enough to follow up; this investment is worth your time. At the end of the evening (or later during a break, or when you're feeling more energetic), shoot your friends a quick tell: "Psst, was just about to log and remembered to check my chat logs. How are you doing? Just spent a few hours working on Loremaster, and I'm soooo pooped ... Made good progress, though!" Look at all the things this single whisper accomplishes:
    • You've reinforced the idea that you really-truly-honest-to-goodness haven't been checking chat from anyone. Your lack of availability isn't personal.
    • Their friendship and tell are important enough to you that you're making time to check in.
    • You're sharing something about yourself and what you're doing these days.
    • You've established that you're ready to log out and set the conversation up to be a short one.
  • If you miss connections, drop friends an occasional in-game mail. Use the same basic message as above: "Just checked my messages and saw I'd missed a whisper from you, blahblahblah ..." If it's been a while since you were able to chat, tuck in a bouquet of flowers or a Steamy Romance Novel. Or, you know, a 17 Pound Catfish if you're not the sweet type.
Easy enough, right? Before we wrap up, though, I hope you'll take a moment to consider why you've been feeling such a strong need to cocoon lately. As a fellow introvert, I recognize there's a difference between wanting me-time and feeling overwhelmed. Reading between the lines of your letter, I'm hearing more signs of the latter ... Take care of whatever's dogging you, and then try out my suggestions to help you enjoy your friendships at a pace that works for you. Happy gaming!

Drama buster of the week

Stay clear of knee-jerk reactions to text statements. Sarcasm and other methods of harmless comedy don't translate well in chat channel limitations. Clarify before you invest yourself in messy drama that was totally avoidable. It will also give you a moment to calm down and react more rationally, regardless of the intended meaning -- which is always a good thing.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas@wow.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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