Archive for the ‘Internet communities’ Category

Pitfalls of romantic relationships in a virtual world.

November 27, 2007

Pitfalls of romantic relationships in a virtual world.


I have been attending discussions held in the virtual world Second Life for a while now. A couple of weeks ago I attended one that centered on a couple that had been together a year. In the real world that is not a big thing but in Second Life where most romantic relationships last only a couple of months, it attracted a lot of attention. As I sat through yet another discussion of relationships in a virtual world, I heard many of the same things I have heard at countless other discussions. A major pitfall of online relationships is that it allows people for the most part, to stay in a fantasy. One can allow their ego and id to run wild. You can try to recreate that time in your life when you were free from major responsibilities and experiencing the excitement of romance. Those golden late teen and early twenty years. Or you can become your perfect alter ego. With the ideal body and looks you can never have in real life. You can create that emotional high that results in the production of neurotransmitters known for pleasure which are released for natural pain control, and are chemically similar to heroin and pain medication. One can literally experience a romantic high.


Unfortunately, seeking this romantic high may prevent the development of deep friendships, mutual trust, meaningful communication, etc. These are all parts of a relationship that lead to lasting relationships. In a virtual world you can experience, share and experience, and/or communicate. To me, people seeking the romantic high seem to share similar traits with people seeking virtual sex. Both are seeking experiences that will result in a HIGH for them personally. When the experience no longer results in a HIGH then they move off to find a new experience that will result in a HIGH. They are not really looking for true relationships with all the aspects that would go along with a relationship. They are only seeking personnel satisfaction.


In a real relationship, virtual or real life, one will notice idiosyncrasies about the other person in the relationship, that the person is messy, or has a bad habit that they do not like. Such idiosyncrasies only interfere with the desired experience. This may explain why I am now noticing people who either actively are seeking a certain type of experience in Second Life. I can now purchase an experience that matches my fantasy. Or I can fill the role in someone else’s fantasy for a fee. I do not have to have a real relationship. If I have the money I can buy the relationship I desire. What was only available to the wealthy in real life, buying your fantasy relationship, is now affordable to middle class Americans. What long term results this will have on society I do not know. Virtual worlds are really just beginning and only a small percentage of the Internet community participates in them. However, being 47 years old and watching the development of whole new technologies, I can see that the immersive world’s produced by 3-D technology such as Second Life offer the possibilities for impacting America culture in a totally new way.


If you have opinions please comment.


Thoughts from a discussion on Romance in Second Life

November 27, 2007

My wife attended a discussion on romantic relationships in Second Life a week or so ago. I have been spending time with family and have just gotten around writing about it. First I should clarify that my wife and I are both in our 40’s and this was the first time she has ever attended any type of discussion in Second Life. To her Second Life is just some type of role playing game that people, myself included, take too seriously. Fortunately for me she is willing to help me on my “Romantic Picnic Project”. Although I did have to bribe her with breakfast at her favorite restaurant.


So back to the discussion, my take on my wife’s impression was that the women were really looking for a more immersive romance novel. Many of them have true relationships in Second Life that are not romantic. The relationships seem to be more like ones may make on a brief meeting such as a business trip or vacation and continue through letters and/or email.


The romance part seemed to be more role playing. Building a fantasy such as recapturing that first teenage romance. Taking that trashy romance novel that you have reread ten times and trying to create your favorite parts in Second Life. I have been in Second Life enough to understand this. My wife was surprised by how drawn in women were emotionally with what to her was just role playing. It was hard for my wife to appreciate the emotional energy that was put into the romance and then the breakup. I tried to explain the emotional high that the romance in Second Life can create along with the crash that comes when it ends. Having not been in a Second Life myself I had to use examples of others I have talked to. This probably explains the strange look my wife gave me along with “OK”. It is hard to explain to someone who has not spent time in Second Life that for some people it really is a Second Life.


The subject of stalking came up in the discussion also. My wife was surprised about this aspect of Second Life. Some of the young women have had men try to stalk them in Real Life. Being 47, over weight and balding my wife is not worried about me being stalked. However, she was a little surprised with how easy it was to use email and the Internet to identify who you really are.  In Second Life there is a high level of anonymity. This leads to behavior in Second Life that one may never do in Real Life. The anonymity is only lost when you willingly give information to someone. Like sending them pictures, etc. If the example of the stalkers is true then it would seem to me that some men are also creating fantasies that they are then trying to take into the Real World. Second Life is a world where you can be perfect. Unfortunately, this perfection can not be transferred to the Real World. In the real world we may be over weight, unattractive, etc. The Real World has warts no matter how much we may wish they did not exist.


Second Life is a world where our alter egos can run free. The fantasy of romance can thrive, and we can achieve that which we can’t in the Real World. Or those who don’t have a wife who reminds them that it is just a role playing game 🙂

Impact of community building on romance?

November 2, 2007

An interesting trend is taking place in the Web 2.0 world and it has an impact on romance. This is community building. Back in 2003, coined the term nethoods to describe an emerging trend: “neighborhoods, streets and even apartment buildings are starting to get their own internet and intranet sites: not just to promote the many qualities they have to offer their (prospective) inhabitants, but also to provide communal interaction and localized services.” Springwise has pointed out  a new company  “LifeAt is a private social network for your building which allows you, the resident, to actively contribute and improve upon your residential experience.” This is just another example of community building that is taking place on the Internet. As more and more of these communities develop they will enhance some real life communities or compete with some real life communities for time and resources.
So what does this have to do with romance? Well I am finding that men and women are joining specific communities. They join based on a number of reasons, which is an interesting study in itself.  However, because of their interactions within these Internet communities they are developing romantic relationships.
This is not really a new thing. This was observed in chat rooms years ago. What is new is that some of these new communities are functional communities with rules, culture, morals, etc. The romantic relationships that develop are not just simple one on one relationships anymore. The romantic relationships now take place within the dynamic of the community. One has to think about the reactions of others to ones romantic relationships. Can it be kept private from the community? What will others in the community say about this romance? There can also be impacts when a romantic relationship ends. Will there be consequences within the community? Yes, life on the Internet has gotten a lot more complicated.