Second Life,where men are men and women are women, almost, maybe, I cann’t tell?

October 29, 2007

Second Life,where men are men and women are women, almost, maybe, I cann’t tell?

 

Second Life is a virtual world where one can be almost anything one desires. One selects an Avatar to represent them in this virtual world. The Avatar can be male, female, or totally non-human. Its pretty much up to your imagination and how much money you are willing to spend. The Avatar is an extension of you in the virtual world but no one knows who is behind the Avatar. Think of it as a giant costume ball. All you can see is the outside costume. People can only know who you are if you reveal yourself to them. In Second Life you never really know whom you are taking to unless they are willing to tell you who they are in Real Life. So what does this have to do with romance? Well an interesting thing is happening in Second Life. You have a number of men who are straight in the Real World assuming female Avatars in Second Life. Now lets drop the whole issue of dating or having virtual sex with someone who is the same sex as you are in the real world. Others have covered this pretty well in blogs past. What I find interesting from a romance angle is that several men I have talked to run around as super glamorous females because that is how they can get attention. Guys in virtual worlds are much like guys in the real world. They seem to be attracted to physical beauty. It does not matter that anyone can purchase beautiful Avatar for fewer than 50 US dollars. Men are hard wired to focus on visual appearance.

Well if you define romance, as relationships that make one feel better about themselves, then being able to command attention or become the center of attention is appealing. The virtual reality may not be real. But the recognition and attention most certainly are real. I travel the virtual world of Second Life as a raccoon looking character called IB WISE. I am what people in Second Life call a Furry. I stay this way because I am ignored many times and it makes it easier to observe behavior. I have seen a lot of people doing many things in Second Life just to get attention. The ones who act out and disrupt thing have even been given a name, “grifters”. In romance we want attention. Is it really that much different for the grifters or men using female avatars to get attention? How unromantic is it to be in a group of people and have no one notice you or pay attention to you. How romantic is it to be the center of attention at a grand ball or other function?

 Let me know what you think, leave a comment.

Is Romance in a virtual world real?

October 29, 2007

Romance in the virtual world, is it really that different than in the real world? I started this project to look at Transreality which is about goods and/or services that have aspects in the real world and the digital world. What I am finding is that romance itself has become transreal. Romance can now exist in both the real world and the new virtual worlds. I guess I should not be surprised because relationships have existed throughout history so long as both parties could communicate in some manner. The Internet has been all about communication. So it has become another means of allowing a romance. What’s new to all of this is the 3-D virtual worlds and the use of Avatars. To understand why, you really have to go back in time to a period before the first PC. To a time when the first Role Playing games came out, such as Dungeons and Dragons. What people found back then was that for some people the roles they played in the game became their alter egos. Some people became depressed and emotionally impacted when their character died in the game. Now jump to 2007 and current avatars used in 3-D virtual worlds and the book titled “Alter Ego, Avatars and their creators”. In the book Robbie Cooper, Julian Dibbell, and Tracy Spaight let people who use avatars in different virtual worlds explain a little about their avatars. As you read through the book you see how avatars can become an extension of the people who use them in a 3-D virtual world.

 

So what do avatars have to do with romance? Avatars and the whole 3-D virtual environment allow a much deeper emotional involvement then were ever possible before, using the Internet. You have personnel space in a 3-D world. You can choose to share it or prevent others from invading it. Many of our behaviors in real life are reflected when we use an avatar because the avatar becomes an extension of ourselves. In the virtual world call Second Life this has become very clear. As I traveled through Second Life this week I attended a discussion on relationships in Second Life. The discussion verified a lot of what I had already observed. For those people seeking relationships, many of the guys seem to be looking for sex; many of the women seem to be seeking romance. This can be verified by the fact that you can find clubs where a guy can hire a female escort. Yet you find few clubs setup for a female to hire a male escort. People’s behavior in real life tends to carry over in their virtual life. Unfortunately, this is not really appreciated by the people who “play” the game of romance in the virtual world.

Second Life allows someone to create just that, a second life away from their real life. People meet new people. They make friends and even fall in love. What is interesting is that people have no trouble accepting that the friendships they make in Second Life are real friendships. They may never meet someone in real life but many of the friendships are as important as ones they may have in real life. Now here the interesting part, at the same time they believe that romance in Second Life can be treated as game. They meet someone, share a number of romantic experiences, in some cases they may even hold a virtual wedding. They tell themselves it is just for fun or it is just a game. In the end one of the two ends the relationship for one reason or another. It is when things end and they experience all the emotional pain that they really appreciate just how “Real” their emotional involvement was.

Over the last month or so I have been talking to people about this. I have heard people tell me about talking to their real life partners about their relationships in Second Life. Some have even gotten their partners blessing on their virtual weddings. After all, it is not real, it is just a game, what harm can it do. The trouble is that these romantic relationships in Second Life tend to be short for a number of reasons. I have heard several stories of the people who had the blessing of their partner for a virtual wedding, needing to be comforted emotionally by that same partner when the virtual relationship ended. They were surprised by how real the emotional pain of the breakup was.

At the same time there is another group of people that follow the “What happens in Second Life, stays in Second Life” philosophy. These are the ones who have real life partners who are unaware of their activities in the virtual world.

If you seek virtual sex, or find a romantic partner in a virtual world such as Second Life, are you really cheating on you real life partner? After all Second Life is just a game not real life. Do you really lessen your real life relationship by marrying someone in a virtual wedding that your partner does not know about? These are interesting moral questions for which I only have answers for myself. But as the popularity of virtual worlds and use of avatars grows these are questions that more and more real life couples will have to deal with. For it takes time and emotional energy to maintain any type of romantic relationship.

 

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Will designers unlock the chemistry of romance?

October 24, 2007

Here is another take on the chemistry of romance. I am approaching the romantic picnic as an emotional experience. Location, food, accessories, etc. have emotional elements. I have also talked about research that shown different chemical changes related to romance. Do you realize that designers see dollar signs in your emotions? What science is increasingly showing is that the same places in the brain that register comfort and contentment also happen to light up when people are shown familiar products and brands.

Will romance be measured by chemicals like endorphins and Neuromarketing technologies like fMRI, EEG, and facial coding to gauge true emotional response? Is it possible that designers will use emotions and romance using these means to measure it? With companies going to 3D design and virtual environments such as Second Life it give one much to think about. Check out Futurelabs take on neuromarketing.

Is it easier to find romance in the land of beautiful people?

October 24, 2007

Is it easier to find romance in the land of beautiful people?

 

What if you could be your idea of perfection? Would all the phobias and hang-up you have about yourself go away? In a 3D world such as Second Life you can be almost anything you want to be. You can create an Avatar that can be your idea of perfection. That was a point that came up last Saturday during the discussion about Romantic Picnics. It would seem that people, who decide to represent themselves with a human avatar, tend to only select attractive avatars. You see very few ugly human avatars in Second Life. In fact you tend to find people spending money to have the most attractive avatars possible. One can dress in a variety clothing to make different fashion statements to the 3D world. Many people have a collection of bodies as well as clothing. They trade avatar bodies more than most people change clothes. So again, what impact does this have on the self esteem and image people in Second Life have about themselves? Are they more at ease because they are now one of the beautiful people? Are they attracted to others in Second Life because of the appearance of another’s avatar? Do they put aside their own phobias and hang-ups about themselves in real life? For once you have become one of the popular branded avatars you have become one of the beautiful people. I have stated before that people enter relationships not because of how they feel about the other person, but because of how the other person makes us feel about ourselves. Can representing ourselves to others using beautiful bodies make us feel better about ourselves. If so does this make romance easier to achieve in a virtual 3D world?

 

Let me know what you think, comment on this.

How do you define romance?

October 17, 2007

How do you define romance? This is important with regards to what you expect out of a romantic picnic.

Romance Consultant L.A. Hunter defines Romance as “the creation of an atmosphere where she feels unconditional love and appreciation. You can turn down the lights, turn on the radio, take her by the hand and ask her to dance in the kitchen. That’s romance”.

According to Barbara and Michael Jonas, creators of the relationship-enhancement games An Enchanting Evening, To Know You Better, and Two to Tango, “romance is not so much what you do, but how you do it, your attitude, and the creativity you use to make your partner feel loved, appreciated, and special. For one person, romance is daisies on a breakfast tray. For another, it’s a foot massage after a long day at work. For a third, it’s surprise weekend getaway. Each of these romantic gestures is different. But they all have one thing in common an attitude that says I love you. I care about you. I appreciate you and I’m happy to put some effort into demonstrating it”.Romance seems to center around a relationship. According to Relationship Expert Russell Price Jr. “We fall in love with somebody not because of who they are but because of how they make us feel about ourselves. They are attracted to us so therefore we suddenly feel very attractive and grow in our self-esteem. The more they are attracted to us the better we feel, and the better we feel the more we are attracted back to them for making us feel THIS GOOD. In turn, they feel the same feelings and emotions as us because we are making them feel good about themselves, too! What a great cycle of love; we actually fall in love with each other for making us feel so great about ourselves.”I have read many articles, books, blogs, etc. and in most of the “Good” ones romance and a relationship between two people go hand in hand. The general consensus seems to be that we enter into a relationship not because of how we feel about the other person but how the other person makes us feel about ourselves. Words like love, appreciated, special, etc. always seem to appear in discussions about romance. There is also some type of cycle or feedback involved between the two people. The two people give to the relationship with an expectation that they will receive benefits. These benefits as related to romance are emotional in nature with physical elements common. In fact it is the emotional elements that separate physical encounters into love and self-gratification. Is one giving to another or is one taking for personnel gain only. Romance seems to be a cycle of giving and taking for the emotional benefit of both. Since romance is emotional it does not have to be logical. This gets into the right side of brain versus left side of brain functions. Ones feelings and emotions do not have to really make sense. So romance does not have to really make a lot of sense. History is filled with examples of silly ways couples have tried to PROVE their love to one another. Negative emotions such as jealousy, distrust, etc. are the classic weapons in history for destroying romance. In some cases romance becomes a battle between the dark negative emotions and the bright positive emotions. I like Russell Price Jr. description of falling out of love.
”Our hearts are heavy and empty. We feel betrayed, hurt, and resentful. How could they allow such ruin? We do not feel good about ourselves. The sun has stopped shining, the old oak tree is wicked looking, with gnarled twisted branches, your eyes have dark circles under them and there is a dragging shuffle in your walk. You have fallen out of love.” Notice the vast array of negative emotions directed at oneself. Romance is really all about ME. It takes effort to go beyond the me and give back to another. Unfortunately, the effort it takes to give back usually has to be less than the value I receive. Such is the nature of romance. That is what can make it so hard to last. How can I be expected to give more than I receive back? Remember we are not talking logical but emotional. Maybe one can look at this differently. Can one use romantic picnics to not only give to another, but to give to oneself at the same time? I know this sounds bad at first glance. However, when we go to a romantic location do we not benefit emotionally by the location itself. When you really take something like a romantic picnic apart you find a great deal of emotional benefit received that is not totally dependent on who you are with. There is a percentage of emotional benefit that hopefully will be supplied by another. But it is also possible that the majority of benefit to both parties can be supplied by the location, food, mode created, etc. How much easier is it to give to another when our emotional cup is full on the positive side? Proper planning of a romantic picnic can also remove or help negate negative emotions such as stress, tension, fear, worry, if only for a period of time. Some time just removing a percentage of negative emotions and tip the balance to the positive. Again it is all about me, so I have to remove my negative emotions. Again, location, food, mode, etc. can all become allies to this effort. It may require no effort on the part of the other person in the relationship to remove these negative emotions. Don’t we all seem to have comfort foods? Have you ever thought about places and situations where you have really be able to relax. Only the ME can leave the world behind for a brief period of time. You are the one who carries you daily worries and cares with you on a romantic picnic. Only you can set these cares aside for a while.
So does romance boil down to emotional investments in oneself maybe more so then an investment in another? How one defines romance will greatly govern their expectations from a “Romantic Picnic” and expectations from the one we are in a romantic relationship with.   

Is there chemistry on a Romantic Picnic

October 12, 2007

Is there chemistry to romance? This Love Chemistry web page seems to do a good job in linking emotions to chemicals that help create those emotions. Take a look at the different chemicals and related emotions. I believe you will find them interesting if nothing else. The information is in line with research I have been looking at on this subject. For romance as defined in the intro to this blog I would focus on endorphins.
These morphine-like opiates calm and reassure with intimacy, dependability, warmth, and shared experiences. I have read where actors who played heroic parts actually produced endorphins. They had blood tests and found that roles of hero’s created endorphins and roles of villains did not. On a truly romantic picnic you would expect the body to at least create measurable amounts of endorphins. That is why one can feel so good after a truly romantic picnic.

 

Please comment and let me know what you think.

Romantic fairy tale movies

October 12, 2007

The Geeks of Doom have picked the top 5 romantic fairy tale movies. I think they have done a pretty good job. Several are favorites of my wife and I. They all have couples that overcome heroic obstacles while growing their personnel relationship. Which is pretty much the plot line of most romantic novels. So what are your top romantic movies, and why do you find them romanticJ

Is a hunk of meat romantic?

October 12, 2007

“Pork chops: can a hunk of meat be romantic”? This is a question from the Slashfood blog. Lets go back to my prior blog and the four factors that can influence product attachments.

  1. Self-expression (can I distinguish myself from others with the product?) Eating certain foods can set one apart. Think of drinking Champaign, eating caviar, etc. Many gourmet foods can fall into this.
  2. Group affiliation (does ownership of the product connect me to a group?) There are many foods that link people to cultural, ethnic, social, and other groups. These recipes make us part of something.
  3. Memories (related to the product), here is where the recipes for romantic picnics can really come to play. How about what you ate the first time you met. Or the lunch you had on the best day of your life.
  4. Pleasure (provided by the product) – here I only need to say Chocolate.

Romance is all about experiences and emotions. Look at the picture of the pork chops in Slashfood’s blog. First, they are a work of art. Visually they are very attractive. Secondly, the recipe takes advantage of taste and smell. Then you can imagine the texture of these perfectly cooked pork chops. When you look at the picture you see the sauce, rosemary sprig, and other items that combine to create the overall romantic effect. These are a far cry from the pork chops I toss into the broiler and serve with some frozen vegetables that I took out of the freezer and micro waved. (Yes, I am a 47 year old guy still hoping to one day learn to cook with style.) These are the pork chops of which memories are made and you will look back years from now and fondly remember them. Is a hunk of meat romantic? Maybe not, but it has to potential to become part of a whole that is very romantic.

 Please share your opinion 🙂

Is upgraded picnic food in your future?

October 12, 2007

Are upgraded cupcakes items for a “Romantic Picnic”? Springwise has identified http://www.sprinklescupcakes.com/ as makers of gourmet cupcake kits made from the highest quality ingredients, including Callebaut cocoa and Nielsen-Massey vanilla.
”If customers are willing to spend top dollar for haute cupcake batter, enterprising food & beverage manufacturers should be asking what else could be upgraded with similar sophistication”. Expect to see more of your common picnic foods upgraded in the future.

Its all in the recipe

October 12, 2007

When someone goes to the store and purchases an item, are they really purchasing that item or what the item enables them to do? Well when shopping for food items for a Romantic Picnic what matters? Retailwire thinks it is the recipes. Many people have Family Favorites when it comes to food. These can be regional, cultural, family traditions, or simply personnel tastes. The key to these types of foods many times is the recipe! Each of these recipes contains Key ingredients. Some of these Key ingredients are must have. They require a certain brand based on tradition, flavor, etc. to make the recipe really work. Without these you don’t get the full experience.

This bonding to certain ingredients in a recipe can be further explained by a blog form Futurelab. In it they identify “four factors that can influence product attachment: self-expression (can I distinguish myself from others with the product?), group affiliation (does ownership of the product connect me to a group?), memories (related to the product) and pleasure (provided by the product).

  1. The first item certain foods can set one apart. Think of drinking Champaign, eating caviar, etc. Many gourmet foods can fall into this.
  2. The second can relate to many foods that link people to cultural, ethnic, social, and other groups. These recipes make us part of something.
  3. Memories, here is where the recipes for romantic picnics can really come to play. How about what you ate the first time you met. Or the lunch you had on the best day of your life.
  4. Pleasure – here I only need to say Chocolate.

 When creating a romantic picnic you are creating an overall experience. So don’t overlook the importance of that recipe and those ingredients.