Posts Tagged ‘Intimacy’

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Your Cheatin’ Heart

October 8, 2010

I love Hank Williams.  He’s one of these people who displayed such a prolific genius so young, you can’t help but wonder if he somehow knew that he had a limited time and was rushing to create while he could.  I’m not normally what you would describe as a huge country music fan, but his songs have a stark passion and emotion that is so hard to resist.  Recently, a few things in SL have reminded me of one of my all time favorite Hank Williams songs – Your Cheatin’ Heart.  The biggest one of these is a recent conversation with my friend ChatBrat Pippita, in which we talked about how many people cheat on their SL partners.

This post isn’t about the question of virtual relationships and first life infidelity, but instead about infidelity within virtual relationships themselves.  (First, a very important caveat: This post is not about you or your partner.  I know there is a tendency among people to read into blog posts that intimate the personal and let me say for the record, this post is not about any specific person, it is simply my musing on something that I’ve seen. )  One of the things I love about Second Life is that relationships take all sorts of forms.  Monogamous, polyamorous, open, partnered, you name it and SL has it.  Of course, the most important part to all of this is how the two people in the relationship have defined it for themselves; if it is an open relationship, it is hard pressed to define it as cheating.  All that said, among the monogamous relationships in SL – partnered or unpartnered – it appears to be relatively common for things to go sour because one avatar has been unfaithful to the other.

I’ll be the first to admit that my evidence for saying virtual infidelity is “relatively common” is purely anecdotal.  But between stories from friends, observing some relationships break-up, and my own being hit on by avatars admitting to be cheating (either as an alt or more blatantly), I feel pretty safe to say that it does happens with some frequency.    It happens in all sorts of ways, of course, but the most common appears to be through alting.

My big question is why does this seem to be so prevalent in Second Life?  In a world where trust is the most important currency of all, why is it common for people to try to circumvent that trust?  I have some partial answers; I think one is that I believe people do it because they think they can get away with it.  Another is a belief that a little dalliance isn’t so bad, they still love their partner and this is better than breaking up.  Finally, I think that it also has to do with why people seek other relationships in any world; they’re trying to address some unmet need.  But as I mull over it, none of these seem to fully answer all the whys.

So I put it to you, dear reader, do you believe cheating on virtual partners is a common occurrence in Second Life?  And if you do, just *why* do you think this is?

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Never Say Never

June 18, 2010

A year ago, I had the idea that it might be interesting to interview a new Second Life Resident for this blog.  I went to Help Island Public in search of a newbie who would be willing to sit down and share their initial impressions of Second Life.  I was fortunate to meet Kyla Riddler; she was eight days old at the time and our conversation became the post A Portrait of the Avatar as a Young Woman.  She had some interesting things to say, including a healthy skepticism about relationships in SL.  Her view shifted a little with time and she partnered with tonk Mayo.  Kyla and I would talk from time to time, but we really hadn’t been in touch much for the past six months.  So I was a little surprised when I received an IM out of the blue from tonk.  He shared that Kyla had just passed her first rez day and was wondering if I would have any interest in doing a follow-up interview.  The more he and I chatted, the more it was apparent that they had a wonderful story about their experiences in Second Life together and it would be great to interview both of them.

Curious about what they said?  How does a new Resident go from being skeptical of SL relationships to partnered?  Are there any twists and turns to the story?  If you have the time to scan the first interview with Kyla, it provides a fun context, but it isn’t necessary to enjoy their story.  Read on after the jump to find out what they had to say!

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Do you know me?

May 31, 2010

I’m trying something new.  Most of the time when I’ve blogged, I’ve labored over my posts, wanting them to be just so.   This post, however, I’m giving myself only half an hour to write it; just getting my thoughts down and posting it for the world to see.  I’m giving this a try because my schedule isn’t giving me much time and I want to see if I can post something without making it an arduous process.

This morning I read a wonderful post by my friend Chestnut Rau that included some of her perspective on trust in SL.  As I read it, one of her key points was that trusting people enough to regularly let them in was something that didn’t come naturally to her.   I couldn’t help but read that and think about my own journeys of trust and intimacy in the virtual world.

Initially I likened the intimacy that comes with pseudonymity in SL to meeting a stranger on a plane.  You sit next to someone, exchange pleasantries, and sometimes you find a surprising conversation where people are divulging all sorts of details about themselves that you would have never imagined.  Then you get off the plane and never see each other again.

My first experiences in Second Life were similar to this; I met wonderful people and shared surprising nuggets of myself.  But then some funny things happened; I found that I got quite good at being an intimacy junkie, looking for a fix that comes with sharing something deep with other people.  I coupled this, however, with a unique ability to keep many people at an arm’s length that comes with having a virtual identity.  I found pseudononymous intimacy to be powerful but it was tempered by my own anxieties about too closely linking the atomic and digital worlds.  Yet as time wore on, like any junkie, I found the fix got harder and harder to satisfy.  I found myself getting less satisfaction from virtual intimacy and decided to start trusting and let down the veil of pseudonymity.

The gist of all this?  I’m not exactly like the people on the old American Express ads, but I have gotten to know quite a few people.  Yet like our first lives, we recognize that a much smaller circle of people are worthy of trust.  I’m glad I decided to trust people and move toward a deeper and more genuine intimacy.  The experience has undoubtedly made both my first and second lives richer.

But what is it for you, dear reader, have you found people you could trust to share intimately all of yourself in Second Life?