Well of course I was interested in the story about the couple in England who divorced because he was found having sex with a prostitute in Second Life. I was more interested in a story I found (but now can’t again) about the reporters with whom the woman refused to talk in RL but was happy do so in SL.
This, of course, prompted several discussion about identity, virtual worlds etc etc. One of the ‘work’ conclusions was that it’s a weird marriage if they both get married then spend all their time online in different worlds being different people. I guess they talked about what their avatars were up to? But another view is that those of us lucky enough to live the kind of life that allows us the luxury, spend a lot of time trying to work out who we are (our teens and twenties), how to relate to others (all our lives) and how the world sees us (our teens and twenties? all our lives?). By the time we get to our 40s and 50s we realise that:
everyone has multiple identities
time is short, so why worry?
the whole world is a little weird
And we do develop multiple identities that emerge when we are in different social situations. However the internet allows us to be ‘other than we are’ in many interesting and perhaps more compartmentalised ways. Momentary and fleeting connections can be made with identities that match yours at that precise point in time. Like conversations on a train. I do think the net allows us to push other boundaries, some of it good, healthy and enlivening. It allows us to create communities of interest previously difficult to imagine. Some of it, however, if you are young and in the ‘who am I?’ phase, is not so good.
Humans have always searched for other ways to be, and our language tells us this: ‘out of it’, ‘off our heads’, ‘in another world’, ‘day dreaming’ , ‘away with the fairies’ the way we love movies, opera, books and plays, and of course travel tells us that we love to ‘escape’ and to be ‘someone else’ for a while.
But some stories are a little weirder than others.