Cyber love – is it for real?

Some nights ago, I turned on the TV and found myself drawn into the BBC documentary shown on our local channel entitled Wonderland: Virtual Adultery and Cyberspace Love.

The programme features 37 year-old American suburban housewife and mother of 4, Carolyn having a passionate affair. She spends up to 18 hours a day with her lover in Second Life, the immersive, 3D online website. Her Second Life lover, Elliot lives in London and keeps asking to meet her.

So immersed and engrossed is she in her Second Life relationship, that she neglects her children and her hapless husband, who must be so madly in love with her (or just mad) that he’s willing to overlook his wife’s obsession and stay by her side, as she works out her feelings for an avatar. Her home is a mess and her bed is left unmade as she sits at the side of the bedroom typing away on her keyboard, transforming herself into a voluptuous Amazonian-type goddess in Second Life. Of course, Elliot is a hunky stud in warrior garb on Second Life. When Amazonian-like goddess meets Zulu-like stud, how can (virtual) sparks not fly?

After about 8 months of online relationship, Carolyn decides to make the trip to London to meet him and to see if their virtual love could transcend the online world’s seeming perfections and make it in the real world. Well, what did you think will come out of it? I think the outcome should be pretty obvious.

For those who missed it, there are blogs on Second Life that feature it and I found one on  The Grid Live that shows various snippets of it, or you can catch the first ten minutes on a Youtube clip.

While some laud her act and see it in a romantic light – woman abandons old humdrum life to seek new life and new courage – many are critical, and see her as needing to get her act together and needing to basically get a life.

Some see Second Life as an escapism – into a world in which you could be whoever you wanted to be. You could have your very own beach house or mansion. (This should make it very popular with land-scarce Singaporeans!) I mean, hey you could even fly!

Another couple was featured on the programme and they got married in Second Life – the bride looked resplendent in her white gown and unimaginably huge train that would have tripped anyone within a 5 metre-radius if it were in real life, and the guests even cried tears of joy! It’s just like the real thing – gushed the bride – you have to pick the gown, the venue and the flowers. She mentioned that her Second Life experience gave her the courage and confidence she needed to socialise and get her life together, and now she’s engaged to be married to her Second Life husband, this time in real life.

So, is virtual love for real? Is cyber adultery the same as real adultery? Should Carolyn’s husband be jealous of an avatar? Should Carolyn go for treatment for online addiction? Should Second Life marriages be legalised? Or perhaps this last one is pushing it…Well, what do you think?


Mail Goggles prevents you from impulsive emailing

Don’t hit the ‘send’ button! Sometimes, we rush off an email in a huff, and send off something regrettable that can’t be taken back.

Now, you can hold yourself back with Mail Goggles.

GMail has come up with Mail Goggles to help those who are impulsive from landing themselves in hot water when they flame others or write rudely in their emails.

Akin to the age-old ‘counting to ten’ way to cool down, GMail presents you with mathematical sums to work out and then asks “Are you sure you want to send this message?”

No harm trying for those who are impulsive. It could save them from embarrassment, backlash and even lawsuits!

Death by Cyber Bullying

Some months ago, I wrote a post on MySpace Suicide victim, Megan Meier who was also a victim of cyber bullying via the popular social networking site, MySpace.

The recent suicide of Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil, due to cyber violence and cyber bullying has created interest again in the subject. In fact, some see this as a scary, growing trend as society gets more wired up.

According to Wikipedia, cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.

The recent case involving the Korean actress, was actually sparked by an earlier suicide by her fellow actor, Ahn Jae Hwan, as online gossip blamed her for his death. Overwhelmed by the hate mail and cyber attacks, and depressed by the her perception that the whole world hated her, she sought to take her own life.

The recent suicides caused by cyber bullying has turned attention to something that is seen to be widespread and should cause widespread concern. According to an online article, cyber bullying ” can occur on social networking sites and in e-mail and text messages … Sometimes cyber-bullying involves taunting or threatening e-mail or text messages or putting embarrassing pictures or personal attacks on teen networking sites like MySpace or Facebook”.

The cyber harrassment can even be carried out by people in authority and who should know better, as shown in the AsiaOne special on cyber bullying! of course, the playing field is also leveled as even the quietest and meekest person such as the sweet and quiet girl in class could also turn out to be a cyber bully, emboldened by the anonymity of the web and the misconception that one can say just about anything online.

A friend of mine who teaches in an eminent local educational institution recently told me about a case of cyberbullying involving two girls. The cyber bullying took the form of extreme flaming in blogs – lots of name-calling with various colourful interjections of expletives. He was shocked when he met the cyber bully – she was the quietest girl in class and he hardly heard a word out of her! Yet, she was blaring, flaming, fuming, venting, ranting away online. It’s as if she’d reserved all her words for her torrents of hatred online. That goes to show, you can’t always tell a cyber bully by his/her cover. or perhaps, there’s a cyber bully in all of us? That’s a dangerous thought, indeed.

 According to an online news story, two South Korean celebrities had already committed suicide due to cyber attacks on their websites. Choi’s suicide has provoked more urgent measures by the Korean government and it’s been pushing for “a law to curb the country’s notorious cyber bullying by preventing internet users hiding behind fake IDs. Major portals and news media websites must now record the real identity of people who post entries. Portal operators are also bound to disclose this information when victims of attacks want to sue for libel or infringement of privacy”.

Thankfully, individuals as well as organisations have started to take steps to educate society on cyber bullying and its consequences, and a number of also come up with strategies to stop cyber bullying and develop programmes to help vicitms cope with it.

The following are some available online: (with Detective Henshaw)

Well, it may be too late to save people like Choi who have been unfortunate vicitms of cyber bullying. Let’s hope that this terrible trend could be reversed in time and others saved. Society needs to be on the look out for cyber bullies as well as victims of cyber bullies, and both groups, yes the cyber bullies too, need to be handled with care and sensitivity.

What do you think is the best way to handle cyber bullying?

Facebook Killing

Loss of face in Facebook, so he killed his wife” – the irony in the headline of the short article in today’s Straits Times caught my attention. 

The article talks about how 34 year-old Briton, Wayne Forrester attacked his wife, Emma, with a kitchen knife and meat cleaver after she wrote in her Facebook profile that she wanted to meet other men. 

Forrester had just broken up with this wife and she had forced him out. Obviously, she didn’t just want him out in real life, but in virtual life as well, as she changed her Facebook profile status from ‘married’ to ‘single’, and posted messages that she was ready to meet new men. This drove an already devastated Forrester to the edge and the humiliation drove him to commit his ‘Facebook murder‘.

Apparently, people do take what’s written on Facebook profiles seriously!

For his action, Forrester has been sentenced to at least  14 years of imprisonment. That would give him plenty of time to think about what he’s done and perhaps his Facebook profile would state: Forrester is in jail regretting the Facebook killing of his wife.

Some useful tips on blogging

I subscribe to Alvin Phang’s blog and recently, he wrote a four-parter on how to blog, which I think is a useful reminder to those who have been blogging for some time, as well as useful tips for novice bloggers.

I’m including the links below:

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 1/4

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 2/4

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 3/4

Powerful tips on writing blog articles Part 4/4

Do add your comments and further tips for all bloggers out there!