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?


About blogscapes
An intrepid explorer into the the brave new dimensions of the blogosphere and new media landscape.

20 Responses to Cyber love – is it for real?

  1. Amanda says:

    To state whether virtual love is real or not is rather subjective to a large extent. There are a series of pros and cons pertaining to this issue. In relation to this, there are real cases whereby people actually fall in love and eventually end up together in the real world. However, it may not be very pragmatic to some as well due to the fact that there are several cases where people get cheated emotionally or even monetary wise. Then again, i believe there is definitely some truth to cyber love being extensively established as of recent times and it is ok to carry forth such a ‘relationship’ so long as you are self-aware and prudent of your actions whilst in the process of getting to know your ‘online date’.

  2. Xiao Ling says:

    I do not think what they have between them is real as they are not true to themselves when they met on Second Life. They look like how they wish they want to look like, which unfortunately is very different from how they look in real life.

    In order for a relationship to work, they should be honest with each other. I think they are just in love with the ideas, the endless possiblilites they could have and explore in virtual reality.

  3. Katherina Oh says:

    In my opinion, a relationship can be formed betweeen two online users. This relationship can be developed over time because eventhough the relationship is virtual, real emotions and thoughts are exchanged and a connection is formed. Being humans, we are mostly emotionally attached to our actions. In this case, the lady is so engrossed and is investing rather seriously in this virtual relationship. It is evident in how she has neglected the role of a wife and a husband. Whether this relationship does develope into a real physical relationship or not, relies entirely on the future actions taken by these two consenting adults. If they allow their emotions and feelings to take over, they might find themselves seeking each other out eventhough they are on opposites end of the world. Just like in the real world, whatever we do, posts some form of consequences. We must be resposible in our actions whether in the virtual world or not.

  4. Joey says:

    cyber love is not real love.. for carolyn case, it was just a moment of addiction and folly.. she should not have abandon her family for something virtual..

  5. wanzihao says:

    I don’t think that it is real love even they have known about each other for long time. However, the whole event is based on a online game, it’s not real life. There must be very different between virtual life and real life. There is no actual responsibility in games, every thing is not real. From my own opion, the reason why this woman fall in love with the other is that she can’t feel happy or love in real life. As a result she can only looking for happiness from the virtual world. I think the woman herself also does not know whether it is real love. It may be a way for her to enjoy happiness.

  6. youreallywannaknow says:

    Third Life is on your way!..
    Your choice..say YES or NO to marriage or to Desperate Housewives upcoming season!..haaa

    We Are The World!..We Are The People!..
    Lets Not Be Strangers!..yet children suffers!..
    We Are The Future!..dont internet explorer!..get out and go national geographic explorer..

    cyberpunkS?? whos to blame?

  7. Alan says:

    i dun think so, coz some people hide their true self and using another personality(which is more appealing to others) to get attention. and normally the person who like such people will be felt cheated when the truth comes to light.

    I think Carolyn’s husband should be jealous of the avatar. Because who wouldn’t be jealous when their wife/someone you love is neglecting them for some thing in virtual life which is not even in the real world.

    I think Carolyn should go for treatment and second life marriages shd not be legalised.

  8. Khairul says:

    In my opinion, I think that virtual love is not for real. I think that Carolyn’s husband should’nt be jealous of the avatar as it is just based on virtual and not reality. I feel that Carolyn should go for counselling as she have not treated their family as a mother and she is too addicted to the virtual world.

  9. Jieshun says:

    I think that she isnt really in love. It could be a virtual or imaginative way to think for her that this a real love, maybe because she didnt experience this kind of love, she had from her marriage.

  10. James says:

    Personally I think that cyber love is delusional, as avatars do not necessary portray the person behind the screen manipulating the avatar. To treat cyber adultery as the same as real adultery is quite joke, as what happens virtually does not actually happen in real life. In Carolyn’s husband case, he should just get a Second Life avatar to spite her wife, if he is really jealous of her wife’s newfound “love”. In Carolyn’s case of addiction, I personally feel that Carolyn should go for treatment, as her children is unable to feel their mother’s love. Second Life marriages should not be legalised, as there might be some issues of the person being married in real life.

  11. syahir says:

    i think that cyber love is possible. people nowadays are looking for an escape from their stressful life and ‘second life’ is a wonderful example in which someone could be a totally different person. they could meet someone who they like and they think they have fallen in love with. however, i dont think that it would a long lasting love as sooner or later, they will find things that are more meaningful in life.

  12. weiliang says:

    Virtual love can be made up. For a true relationship, there are other factors to play a part beside having love…

  13. Ze Chuan says:

    Virtual love can be real.
    Cyber adultery can be the same as real adultery.
    Carolyn’s husband should be jealous of the person behind the avatar instead.
    She should, since caring for her real family takes priority over something virtual.
    Second life marriages should not be legalised as it is still considered “virtual”.

    There are more thrills and fun stuff in reality than virtual reality.

  14. ChenWeixi says:

    In my opinion, the cyberlife is not true. Instead of spending time and energy in this virtual world, she really need to come back into her real life. The “second life” is only a world built on Internet. The stuff inside are created by people who actually live in real world. No need to cost money, no need to pay time and energy. It’s just data. The woman in the video need to realize that the virtual world can only be used to release the presure and anxiety. This is because everyone can do whatever they want in virtual life. No consequences, no law, no judge, so it is built. It will never have the quantity to compare with real life. Therefore, the woman really need to jump out of the Internet. People cannot live in virtual life and my suggestion is if someone really wanted something from the “second life”, then he might stop wasting time and start to persue in real life.

  15. Brandon says:

    Theres nothing wrong with occassional indulgence with cyberlove.Its drawing the line that marks the difference between harmless play and something that could threaten a real-world relationship. Its only a sort of fantasy, fun when done within safe boundaries.

  16. zhiting says:

    Poor husband and children got neglected , getting too emotionally involve to the game , spending 14 hours a day and even decided to meet up the real world , isn’t that sign and symtoms of adultery and sign of broken marriage.
    I felt being trueful and realistic in life will truely satisfied oneself in terms of morality and emotions

  17. Jensen says:

    Firstly i really admire Caroline’s husband for his unrequitted love for his wife, despite knowing that his wife is having an affair in the virtual world.

    Basically i think that if Caroline wasn’t married, the online relationship could have propelled her to greater heights. However, it could all have turned out differently. Such things are often very unpredictable.

    I thought that online relationship should best stay the way it should- Online. We do not know who is the person on the other side of the screen as well as any hidden agenda they may have. This might put us in danger of frauds and scams, as well as any other form of harm.

    Fundamentally, i thought that the couple could use “Second Life” to their advantage. Their marriage is facing some serious problems and it would be rather awkward or embarassing for them to communicate face to face. By using “Second Life”, a virtual barrier is formed between them and therefore reduces awkwardness and discomfort. In this way, they could re-explore each other and get to know each other again. This could actually help in rekindling their relationship, and perhaps save their marriage.

    In addition, they could also invite their children to create avatars on “Second Life”. Their children have suffered much during this period of turmoil, and might have become withdrawn. Thus they might experience difficulties in communicating the problems they face to their parents. “Second Life” would provide an alternative avenue to effectively convey their displeasures to their parents.

    On the whole, I feel that Social Networking sites like “Second Life” should be used with responsibility. Exercising caution in online communications can go a long way in maintaining a healthy social life for the user.

  18. Chee Yan says:

    Virtual world is a platform to fulfill all your fantasies that reality denies you. That’s why she’s so addicted, she fantasizes the man as the ideal romantic partner, but him in real life is of course never like that digital hottie.

  19. Nan says:

    Well after watching the entire video about the virtual world,I think it’s kind of addictive and it is definitely real!However,in the case of the women it was wrong of her to continue entering the world since she has one of her own in real life!

    I seriously think the husband is ver ipatient depsite knowing what her wife does and the fact he doesn’t get angry or something.Maybe in his point of view being calm can earn him his wife again..However,I think that the wife has drifted way too far from him and his kids.

    If she wasn’t interested in the virtual guy she woudldn’t have agreed to meet him in real life.I think the wife is in the wrong!super wrong of her.
    Once someone chance upon such things,unless you are interested or curious you will not enter the site ever again.

    The wife should atleast more her limits.Spending 14 hrs in virtual world and the rest to sleep is no way a human should be spending their time.
    It’s such a dread and bore.I don’t think I can ever stand a day doing what the women does O.o

  20. blogscapes says:

    Thanks for all the responses. As you can see, it’s elicited pretty divided views.

    The wife is definitely addicted to Second Life and I do believe she has issues that led to it, and she did mention about her depression and all. To her, virtual life seemed real and the fantasy appealed so much to her that real feelings became involved, and that’s why she went to meet her online boyfriend.

    I do believe she would need to work out her issues and salvage her marriage. Well, at least she has an understanding and patient husband who seems willing to work things out with her.

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