Second Life: Virtual dating, virtual age play?

My friend David sent me a link to a News.com story about Second Life, the virtual world that’s engaging the interest of so many digerati. Seems like not only is there virtual dating going on there–there’s virtual sex–including activities involving adults pretending to be children–mostly happening in private–not public–areas of the site.
My notable quote in the story comes from David Fleck, the marketing VP, who said: ” The other thing to remember about ‘Second Life’ is that it is a free-form canvass. You can do what you want, and be what you want, and that’s what attracts people. ”
The whole question of virtual life–and virtual relationships is one that’s starting to engage my attention…both as a form of play and entertainment, and as a complement to relationships in the real world–if any readers have pointers to academic papers, interesting sites, etc focused on online dating, virtual relationships, etc… I’m definitely curious.

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  1. Randy says:

    I am fairly certain that as a matter of generational transition, younger people will tend to view, over time, virtual relationships as perfectly normal. They may also come to make effective moral distinctions between intimacy in virtual relationships and intimacy in physical relationships. Technology aside, though, we always seem to miss the distinctions between our intents and our actions, especially when it comes to the impact on our real-life committed partners. If I were to discover my lover engaging in virtual intimacies of kinds she never mentioned or contemplated with me in real life, I think our relationship would be irrevocably damaged – and I, unlike my younger counterparts, tend to think that any relationship that requires hiding or subterfuge is, by definition, an unhealthy relationship.
    But if virtual relationships are going to become more common, and if they are going to be subject to differing moral standards, then, yes, a friendly platform for these relationships – whether it’s just play and entertainment or whether it’s the next step in online dating – will be a social media goldmine. Gee whillikers, what a way to make a fortune. Let’s plow the profits into marketing crack, OK?

  2. IK says:

    Susan, you may want to take a look at what OmniDate is doing in the “virtual dating” space: http://www.omnidate.com

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