Thursday, September 20, 2007

Do *you* think it's real?

I've had some people ask me recently if I think that sex in Second Life (or anywhere else that's considered an 'online' environment - chatrooms, etc) is "real". My emphatic answer was immediately 'yes', but now I'm wondering how other people feel.

My 'online' days started years and years and years ago on IRC (DALnet, woo!) in one little chatroom and let me assure you, there was a lot of sex going on there as well. Second Life is not the first time people have had sex online, despite what some articles may have you think (oooo, people are being unfaithful online! It's the devil himself at work!). Second Life brings a 'visual' to it, that's for sure, but the underlying effect is still the same.

I am personally not the kind of person that can separate their online and offline lives. One is part of the other for me, and I also truly believe that my online identity helped shape the person I've become and also gave me the strength to make some amazingly powerful changes in my life. I've met dozens and dozes of 'online' friends in offline meetings, parties, and get-togethers and every single time I've been amazed at how perfectly at ease I've felt with the person when meeting them for the first time in the 'physical' world. You get to know someone online in very different ways than if you met that person offline. It's as though online environments are some sort of microscope into a person's psyche and it's truly amazing (and in my mind, incredibly fantastic) that you can know so much about a person just from watching the mannerisms of their avatar, their punctuation, or their grammar.

I've met people recently that think it's just 'incredibly interesting' that I meet people offline that I met initially online when to me.. this is just part of who I am and what I've done for years. For the life of me I can't grasp why it's so fascinating or 'weird' to people. With all the ways to meet people online these days- IRC, Second Life, message boards, forums, chatrooms, and God knows how many websites are now dedicated to hooking people up - why is it still so 'weird' to some people?

What about you? Are you the kind of person that can separate your online and offline lives? Have you met people in person that you met online first? Have you felt that incredibly strong connection with someone you've just recently met online? Have you taken online sex into the 'real world'? Or are you one of those people that just think it's 'weird'?



cmykdorothy said...

I can never separate the two, even when I try. I always find it odd that *so* many people keep their "RL" off limits. I'm all for keeping some details private, but even in completely fantastical roleplay, there's a lot of the real you in there.

I have met people in person that I met online first, and it hasn't always been fantastic for me. I've never met anybody from SL aside from the people I already knew in RL first.

I have had insane amounts of chemistry with people I've met online. I so agree with how mannerisms, punctuation, and articulation can allow you to see into somebody's mind a lot quicker than you'd be able to pick up on those things meeting someone at a bar, etc.

This post and all of these topics fascinate me. I would love to do a roundtable of sorts where we can all just talk about this stuff and share openly.

BTW, I bought a really hot black silk blindfold last night that blinds you and lets people drag you around. I want Pixel to drag me around. *bites pinky*

dandellion Kimban said...

Is cybersex real? Define real, then I'll tell you.
For sure, it is different thing than physical off-line sex. But that doesn't make it unreal. It is just different kind of experience. And it is even more dependant on with who you are playing with. With intresting, intelligent and skillful partner cybersex can be amazing experience. It is not rare occasion that emotions indiced in virtual environment like SL goes out of it and show up far away from the computer.

Though I do try to keep my two lives separated (in privacy way), they do mix. I am not about to become schizophrenic who deny significant part of own time and activities. And I am not to devalue all the experience of my cyberlife.

pixel bailey said...

cmykdorothy - you know how I feel about you. I'll drag you around anytime, dear.

dandellion - I think that's exactly the point - define 'real'. To me everything that is said (typed) is real. That's not the case for everyone, or.. maybe that IS the case, but it's only 'real' if it exists inside Second Life and they don't carry those words or feelings into 'real' life. Some people can separate with the idea of 'what happens online, stays online' mentality. I'm not one of those people.

Roisin Hotaling said...

One of my best friends is a woman I originally met in a birdwatching chat room nearly 14 years ago, and I did a little online dating before I met my RL husband. Meeting people online is certainly nothing new to me, either.

In SL I resisted doing more than flirting, initially, because I was concerned about how permeable the membrane between SL and RL might be. Of course, I found people in SL with whom I made a connection, and I'm having the same sort of experiences with powerful chemistry and making big changes in my life that you and cmykdorothy describe.

Do I consider my online friendships real? Absolutely! My feelings for them are no less strong for having never seen them face to face. Do any of us plan to meet in RL? Maybe, maybe not.

With those who are just friends, that might be fine, someday. With those who have become lovers in SL, no. We've agreed to keep things online only, as we value our RL marriages and have no interest in jeopardizing them.

I love cmykdorothy's idea about a roundtable, since I too am fascinated by these topics.