Friday, 18 April 2008

Growing Pains

Cindy Kesey wrote another great blog post venturing into the subject of SLove & SLex (no I don't do the trademarking stuff). Although I agree with her conclusion that cheating on your RL spouse in SL is more a symptom of an already flawed marriage then a cause I think there is more to it. Albeit true in some cases it is too easy a conclusion as it relies on a few givens I'm not so sure of.

Given one: the notion of eternal romantic love.

A marriage, even in the legal sense, is a contract, a contract that will hopefully be beneficial for both parties. Looking back at its historic significance one could debate the merits of such contract in this day and age where women no longer depend on their husbands to provide for them and their children or where the careful planning of strategic weddings to keep family fortunes together or alliances intact is no longer a real issue. Still, you don't have to look far to find cultures where, to this day, it is absolutely normal for parents to decide who their children will marry. Anyway, whether it be now or in the past, marriage and romantic love are two different things all too often confused in our western culture these days. Fact remains though that no one wants to grow old alone or be alone period. So I do believe a marriage can last forever but I am not convinced the same goes for romantic love.

Given two: getting caught with your pants around your ankles in SL is just as bad as it is in RL.

Hate to burst your bubble but it isn't. If I simply count the *hugs* & *kisses* or variations thereof I have received in my time in SL they by far exceed the number of RL hugs and kisses I've received in RL to this day. Face it: they are a convention; a way of expressing you like a person for lack of other, more subtle signals we have at hand in RL where a look can say more than a thousand words. I won't push it as far as to saying that doing the "pixel polka" is meaningless but to compare it to RL sex is selling RL short.

Given three: there is such a thing as a perfect marriage.

Need I say more ?

Now, if you accept above givens are not as factual as they appear in the first place what is the problem with SL relationships? Why do people still get their knickers in a knot over them?

What I do see is that SL in many ways acts as a magnifying glass for emotions, fooling a lot of people into seeing things that simply are not there. I believe it has a lot to do with the limited way in which we can express ourselves online. It leaves no room for subtlety and forces us to be very explicit to avoid all kinds of misunderstandings. By doing that the message sent becomes a very powerful statement. The reaction will be equally strong and the ball starts rolling... Looking at it from the outside and comparing given conversations and/or interactions with RL ones can be very easily misinterpreted. You can not compare a RL relationship with an SL relationship because the whole frame of reference in which they exist is completely different. Trouble usually starts when people start mixing up the two and start judging SL actions within a RL frame of reference or the other way around. I guess the main question is where you draw the line between the two because the are inevitably intertwined and most certainly related.

This is not an exclusive SL thing. I've seen the same issues in chat rooms many years ago. It will take time for people to learn to put things in the right perspective. If you look at how teenagers, who grew up with all this technology, have made a whole new frame of reference that includes both online presence and physical presence I think there is hope for the future. In the meantime we'll have to deal with the growing pains.

On a side-note: I'm no ogre, so yes, I left out some of the grey in between for the sake of argument ;-)


Anonymous said...

Loki, my dear, I couldn't agree more with most of what you have written. You have coalesced many of the points I've made on several past blog posts into one. Well done.

Although I don't have an issue with SL relationships personally, I can see why some folks find "cheating" in SL as detrimental as "cheating" in RL. It's about emotional honesty. My feathers would feel equally ruffled if I were to find my spouse cheating financially--as in making major purchases with our joint finances without my knowledge.

About the long-term romantic love issue: well now, that may be an entirly new post in itself. What a can of worms that one is. And while I agree in theory, it saddens me a bit to think that my marriage may be merely a contractual obligation. If that were the case then if something bad were to happen to my husband, I'd feel no real sadness or loss. And that's simply not true.

I don't claim to have the answers. But I love that we're asking the questions and talking about it. Too often do people react and act without sitting and exploring further why the world is the way it is.

Oh, and xoxoxoxoxoxoxox. There--some more to add to your growing collection. :-)

Loki Popinjay said...

Cindy, as I said I left out some grey. Part of it is the fact contract s are supposed to be beneficial to the parties involved. In the case of a marriage it's obviously the emotional involvement the partners benefit from. So no, of course your marriage is not just a contractual obligation :-)

Lord knows I don't have the answers either but like you I do love pondering the questions and exploring why things are the way they are. I'm glad I can share that with you!

Anonymous said...

I think Cindy hit the nail on the head for me. The issue is honesty. After finding out about my husband's affairs on SL, seeing the chat sessions with his friends telling him how to lie to me, the issue for me is the trust is gone.

I guess if you are comfortable not having trust as the basis for your relationships it must work. For me, I need to be able to believe what my husband says for our marriage to work. SL affairs hurt the RL partners.

SL seems to be as addictive as cocaine and there is a whole community of users who seem to have lost their moral compass and willingly tell each other to do things that are not in a gray area in RL.

I can tell you that my husband looks better, acts happier, is more connected to our kids, to me and his business is going much better without the negative influence of his so called friends in SL.

Interestingly enough, when I found out about his SL affairs he had multiple SL friends encouraging him to divorce me. All of our RL friends stood by, helped with the fragments of our life as we tried to piece together our injured marriage.

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