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.