I am supposed to be doing a sharing session this upcoming Thursday at the Idea Factory for the Secondlife Community meet.
To be honest, after hearing the discussion at the E27 unconference, and seeing participants with their scepticism and disbelief, I’m not very confident about talking this Thursday, in front of all the technophiles I saw on the attendance list. Especially with Cory Ondrejka, the Chief Technology Officer of Secondlife being there.
(Even if I *am* looking forward to seeing Kevin and his helmet cam)
But I think that during these events, many people focus on the economics and technology segment. I believe that behind every mode of communication, there is a human element. So to prevent myself from mumbling incoherently during the event, I think I should give the topic just a little bit of thought.
Experiencing relationships in the metaverse. Or more specifically, Secondlife Relationships.
I believe that the feelings that experienced online, could affect a person in real life. These feelings does not necessarily have to be romantic feelings, it also includes the feelings that you get when you get to know the people online, whether it be from blogs, instant messages, virtual worlds or other alternative sites.
Some time back while I was in cybertown, a well loved resident passed away due to her illness. I remember the genuine feelings of grief. There was a eulogy and everyone remembered the good memories and happy moments that they had of her. The feelings of loss, the feelings of sadness, these are all real even if we do not meet these people in real life.
So why should Secondlife relationships be any different from real life relationships?
In Secondlife, I’ve seen how easily and quickly on how two individuals from a relationship with each other. I think that this is largely because people have the freedom to express themselves more. They fashion their avatars as how they wanted it to look and they control how they want themselves to portray. Moreover with the awareness that the metaverse is a platform as opposed to real life, people are less inhibited.
But as quickly as these relationships are formed, many of them are quick to dissolve too. A casual survey done in Secondlife shows that the average duration of a SL relationship lasts about a month.
Perhaps these relationships in the metaverse are seen as disposable. With over 4 million registered users in secondlife, there are always many other avatars that one can go to. Moreover, these residents can control their world as real as they want it to be, or to keep their relationships strictly online.
A wedding in Secondlife
There has been stories of partners turning out not to be as what they describe to be – some are married, some even not being open about their actual gender. It’s very difficult sometimes to differentiate the truth in the metaverse because of the lines of transparency here.
The dilemma begins when a partner believes the representation of an avatar to be exactly the same as it is in real life. If they are happy in-world, would it be considered cheating when they find the truth about their partners?
I think the most important element in online relationships is maturity. Each individual needs to trust each other and to be truthful about their situation and always remember that behind every avatar, is a real person.
Torley and Jade
At the same time, there are also many couples who traversed from online romance to real life romance. It isn’t easy, and it may not be for everyone. But I believe that with trust, patience, faith and strong commitment to each other, the relationship will eventually work out in the end.
Thanks to Secondlife, there has been real life partnership and matrimonies. And that’s a good thing. It shows that no matter how advanced technology is, there will always be a human element prevailing.
Falling in love is natural. And emotions are what makes us, human. The metaverse is thus another avenue where we can express, emote and relate.
p.s If you are free on Tuesday afternoon, do drop by NTU, ADM Atrium. Cory will be giving a talk about Secondlife at 4pm. I cant be there though since I’d still be at work. 😐