Friday, 24 August 2007

Turbulent times

These seem to be turbulent times. In the last few days two of my friends told me independently they and their significant other are splitting up. The situations are rather different though. In one case my friend, let's call him Fred, decided to leave because his long time girlfriend Ginger admitted to him she fell in love with someone else. In an other case my friend Eve's husband Adam is about to leave her because she confessed she "knew" someone in the biblical sense. Wait a sec ... didn't I say the situations were quite different? Well, in Ginger's case the proverbial green grass on the other side of the fence is a RL person in Eve's he is a Second Life avatar.

So is there a difference? After all, the net result is the same; two couples who have been together for years are about to split up. Does it matter whether Eve fell for an avatar and Ginger for some real life person? I think it does for a number of reasons. When we fall in love with someone we're always on our best bewitching behaviour to convince the other party we deserve a chance with them. How much easier is it to hide behind a flashy avatar than is to hide behind your toothpaste smile? I would say a lot. Sooner or later inevitably the smile will show some cracks but you can hide behind the av reasonably comfortably forever unless and until you decide to meet up in person. In SL there will always be a larger degree of wishful projections about the other party and their feelings even though it rarely feels that way.

Now there is also the matter of sex and adultery. Here I think things are a lot less clear. What is worse, Eve looking at pixels exchange bodily fluids whilst having a racy conversation or Ginger going out with her friend for a beer, holding hands and exchanging dreamy looks knowing all too well what they both rather be doing? I think the clue is in that last bit "what they would rather be doing", because basically that's what it is in both cases; the expression of a longing, not the act itself or lack thereof. Both Eve and Ginger respond to the social rules of their environment and we all know those are a lot more liberal in SL than they are in RL. Ginger is held back from the next step by her own morality and/or social constraints whilst for Eve there is no next step but to take things out of SL into real life.

That's why, if I was in Fred's shoes, I would probably leave as well. Ginger has decided she wants to devote her love to someone else. If I were in Adam's shoes I wouldn't and I know that for sure because I'm still married. Eve explored some fantasies and satisfied her curiosity in a limitless fantasy world. Don't we all fantasise about that new and exciting stranger at one time or other or of indulging in that kinky thing we would never even contemplate in RL? SL provides the sandbox to experiment with those fantasies. Does that mean you want to give up on an existing RL relationship? Of course not.

Fantasy and creativity are what makes us human and sets us apart from your average chimp. SL gives us the space to experiment without fear for consequences other than a better insight into what makes each of us tick. Consequences usually arise from the fact many can't deal with the newfound freedom or because of judgemental people that don't understand the nature of SL. So does experimenting make us adulterous? Of course not.

Right now my heart bleeds for Fred, Ginger, Adam and Eve although for different reasons.

Now before you shoot, I respect the fact we are all individuals, situations vary and a multitude of factors can come into play. Human emotions are not an exact science, I see that all around me on a daily basis. SL provides us with a unique chance that, if used wisely, can help us gain an insight into aspects of ourselves that might otherwise remain hidden.

My opinion until proven wrong...
may it never be ;-)

Saturday, 4 August 2007

SL vs. RL Promiscuity Index

After reading Vint's blog on the SLex / RLex ratio a while ago in which she tries to catch the differences between people's Sl sex life and RL one in a formula, I was left with the feeling some things in her math didn't add up. Math is not my thing either, but being a bit bored today I started thinking about it. Since it doesn't always have to be serious stuff, this is what I came up with:

A sort of "Promiscuity Index" so to speak...

(RLA -216) / RLP
-------------------- = PI
(SLA x 5) / SLP

RLA = your RL age in months
RLP = the number of RL sex partners since your 18th Bday
SLA = your SL age in months
SLP = the number of SL sex partners since rezz-day
PI = Promiscuity Index (I wonder is someone is going to turn up with 3.14 *grins*)

Now let me explain why I think this is a more accurate way of calculating or if you want more indicative of the differences between yourSL sex life and your RL one. First of all there is the fact that her calculation doesn't take in account we are more or less active during certain periods of our lives be it in RL or SL. At some stages in both our RL and SL we tend to experiment more. So I thought I should divide the time we are sexually active by the number of partners over that time in both lives. To compensate for the fact you can be active inSL from day one and not so in RL I decided (rather arbitrarily I'll admit) to deduct 216 from the RLA thus starting the count at 18 years of age.

Another thing that had me thinking is the fact that there is a difference in pace between SL and RL. Face it, what is the average life span of a relationship in SL? So based on my experience I set the value at 5. Meaning the pace of life in SL is imho about 5 times faster than in RL. I agree it's debatable and any good arguments to change this value are more then welcome.

What do we get out of this? I think it makes for a nice comparison of your promiscuity in SL as opposed to RL. Let's look at an of course completely fictional example:

A male 42 years old has had 15 sex partners since he was 18. In SL he has had 5 since he rezzed 19 months ago.

That makes:

(506 - 216) /15
------------------- = 1,02
(19 x 5) / 5

The conclusion in this case would be that his promiscuity in SL and RL are fairly the same.

index > 1 = RL promiscuity < SL promiscuity
index < 1 = SL promiscuity < RL promiscuity

This says nothing about the frequency of SLex or RLex. I guess if you would like to hazard a guess at how often you've done it in RL since you turned 18 and the number of times you engaged in SLex in SL you could replace RLP and SLP by those values but I'm not going to venture there :-)

On a side note, this equation also solves the problem Vint had with her calculation that could lead to an illegal "divide by 0".

I'm as always curious to hear your thoughts and reactions!
And your Indexes of course ;-)

PS In case you were wondering, no, it's not me in the top picture ...