At once both the forefront of invention and the thing most bitterly despised on the grid.
I've said more than once, possibly even on these pages, that I am not equipped for, nor do I intend to employ, voice. That in our text-based world, voice is not the lynchpin to propel us forward, voice is not the deciding factor in how anyone, on the grid, relates or should relate to me.
Voice. It's a bane and a blessing. And it never stops being both.
Perceptive sorts will notice, over the past few months, that the bright white dot of the voice-enabled now hovers over my head--in those zones which are voice-enabled themselves. Don't worry overmuch: by and large, you will never hear me speak. (I leave out such unusual occurrences as the destruction of Saint Kitts'--clearly, I was...*coughs*...overcome.) But being voice-enabled, being able to both speak, when I desire to, and to listen in, whether or not I choose to speak...it's been enlightening in more than just the usual sense.
Voice can be an invitation to deeper intimacy. To hear the voice of the one loved reveals more of their personality, day by day, than even words will; words show the mind, voice carries more of the spirit. I don't think this is an invalid conclusion. I think we can learn a great deal about someone, just by hearing their voice.
On the other hand--and this, I also know full well--voice can be the single greatest barrier to future intimacy ever developed. First of all, because it is so easy, so very easy, to get caught up in netskimming and forget other things entirely. We talk about politics, religion, games, movies, music, books, mythology, computers...we discuss how to make webpages walk the plank and the daily toil of the Goddamn Batman. We discuss building and business, Bare Rose and cybernetics, go on scavenger hunts and forage for freebies and explore the weirdness of Japanese sims...
...and, between custom commissions for him and Bare Rose shifts for her and hosting and everything else for me, there's not a lot of time for...well. Anything else.
Add in the annoying tendency of both the SL voice channel and most microphone equipment to drop out voice entirely in low ranges--so 'whispering sweet nothings'? Will result, nine times out of ten, in a 'What did you say?' being asked across the wire. Which is, you might agree with me, the thing you crave least to hear.
Then, of course, one has to add in the oddity of being me. Let's take last night as the stunning example. At times, for no apparent reason, I cannot speak. I want to; I can make noise; but something prevents the words from reaching through the fence of flesh and bone they strain behind.
Last night? Was one of these nights.
So, suddenly, for no reason, I...could not...talk. Voice was active, open, waiting to transmit...nothing but the sound of my breathing. It was unbelievably frustrating.
I am lucky in that I have a love who was willing to--even with the voice channel active--return to the keyboard and the written word, and slowly, slowly, I regained my voice. But it was surreal to the extreme.
So to those who have not yet ventured into the voice arena...be careful. It could be the thing that brings you and those you love together, bind you more deeply, bring you closer than you ever thought possible...or it could drive a wedge in your relationship that you slowly, painfully, try to chip away before it severs each from each completely.
Could go either way. You make the call.
Literally--the button's on your screen.