Being in null sec does change your outlook in EVE Online.
And by being “in” null sec, I mean being there in an alliance with sovereignty, a home station, and such.
There you are surrounded by your friends and allies and it is easy to identify hostiles in local. All your friends and allies have a blue icon next to their name, while people in your actual corporation have a green one. These represent the relative inherited standings of the individual pilots.
And if you live in NBSI (not blue, shoot it) space like I do, then it becomes easy to spot the bad guys. They either have a red icon or no icon at all.
You quickly learn to make the Local channel as big as possible, with the compact view enabled, and to stare at it obsessively while pottering around in your section of null sec space. All blue means you are safe and happy. (Unless the intel channel says something is coming your way.)
The only time I hide the Local channel is when I am on a fleet op, and that is because I have been flying logistics lately. So Local gets replaced with my watchlist which has to include the FC, the main anchor, the logistics anchor, all the important support ships, my +2/-2 logi mates, friends, corp mates, and anybody else the FC might ask us to watch. I usually add the inevitable person in the totally in appropriate ship (the Typhoon in Tengu fleet, the Caracal in Drake fleet, or the Megathron in welp fleet, just to name a few past champions), because it makes me feel good when someone totally out of place survives.
But, I feel that, with enough else to which I need to pay attention, somebody else can watch local. With 100 or more people in the average strat op fleet traveling in a group, incidental reds and neutrals tend to get out of your way or die very quickly. And once we get near an opposing fleet, FCs are generally pretty good at bringing that to your attention over voice coms. (Fun fact: I have never once spoken on start op voice coms.)
So this method of operation generally sets in pretty quickly. You get used to the routine of watching local, using the intel channels, and generally staying safe in null sec when you are not actively trying to PvP. The only thing that still trips me up every so often, 10 months into my time in null sec, is that my own name has no icon, which kind of pisses me off. Can I set my standings for myself? Because constantly seeing myself as a neutral is annoying.
But all of that makes going back to so-called high security space really unnerving because it is FULL OF HOSTILES!
Who are all of these people? And what is with the names people choose in EVE?
My friend Gaff, who has been in null sec for a while, used to tell me once in a while about the paranoia that being in high sec can bring on after being in the safe blue womb of null sec. It is a different world. Bad guys, aside from the rare awoxer (somebody, usually a DBRB alt, who joins a corp in order to shoot blues in an attempt to sow discord), are easily spotted.
In high sec though, the place is full of GDIs. And the standings icons don’t make a difference. That guy with the red tag probably isn’t actually at war with my corp/alliance, so I can’t shoot him. Meanwhile, some high sec extortion corp might have war dec’d us again, but they could very well show up as neutral in Local.
Which makes trips to high sec a bit nerve wracking at times. And I have to go there now and again. I have to buy skills to inject and supplies to be shipped out to null sec as well as contracting over to my high sec alt loot from ratting which I have shipped to Jita so he can sell it. And, when I know I am going to be offline for a couple of days, I jump to a high sec clone I have with +5 implants to speed up skill training.
Of course, it is that last one that really leads to paranoia. After a couple of days, I log in and forget where I am for a minute as I panic at being in a system full of hostiles. Oh, wait, no. It is just high sec.
And, so long as there is not a war dec in operation, the initial paranoia passes. But there is always seems to be that moment of alarm when I first arrive and see local looming, and there is always a bit of an edge to things that I cannot quite shake.
At least until I get back to null sec, where I feel safe.
Or, if not safe, at least sure of where I stand with everybody in Local.