273: Second Real Life

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the article was very well written.

It's kinda scary what people do online. Mind-numbing at best.


OT: I've actually experienced something similar a few years ago, on a MUD I play. I became friends with a guy whose name I won't reveal. We chatted a fair amount, used to go hunting together, and so on. He was in his mid-20's, gay, with a dead-end job he hated and some mental problems that made him very uneasy around people. I knew that he was unhappy about his life, because when we chatted about it he'd get very upset sometimes, but while I sympathised there wasn't much I could do for him.

One day, he revealed he'd never actually had a boyfriend. Again, I sympathised, but it wasn't really my business. Eventually problems with stress led him to lose his job and he became much more mopey, often moaning about how he got so little human contact. He started asking me to come and visit him, with the not-so-subtle intention of being "more than friends". I kept declining, as nicely as I could under the circumstances (he was about a decade older than me, lived on the other side of the country, etc), and we gradually drifted apart. After a while he stopped logging on, and I lost my phone and with it his number. Ever since, I've always had a nagging worry at the back of my mind about what happened to the poor guy.

Good, I am glad someone mentioned this: The interpersonal relationships in online virtual environments have been been bleeding over into IRL feelings for quite some time now. Probably even before MUDs (Multi User Dungeons, used to be mostly just text like it was Zork but as time went on Visual MUDs came about - I used to use zMud to enhance the text based ones, these days I find SimpleMU much more easy to pick up and get running - and in many ways I consider MU*s to be the forerunners of MMOs) this has been happening with Bulletin Boards or something, but my own experience was with a MUD called Adventures for Ancient Wisdom (AAW) which I asked my then girlfriend, now wife, to play with me. She actually broke up with me IRL for a while because she felt romantic towards another player in the game, which I was rather flabbergasted and rage filled towards this other player whose name and character I have long since forgotten. We did get back together after she realized she could be as open with me as when she would chat with that other player, so in the end it made our relationship stronger.

So, if you are looking for related urban legends, articles or documentaries, be sure to include MUDs in your search, there is a history of this stretching way back and Second Life certainly isn't the only place this happens.

Peace and happy hunting in all your games.

That youtube video of that kid having a massive tantrum over his mum deleting his WoW account? Yeah now I feel bad about laughing at it :(

dont, it was staged along with every other video they made.

OT: I live in a small town with very little to do, suffice to say MMO's allow me to have a wider social interaction than what real-life allows.

While I still make some jokes about Second Life, the same could be applied to every MMO, god knows I had my share of crazy people in Anarchy Online..........

That is really sad...

Thank you all so much for your awesome comments and feedback. It's super awesome to know that people read my stuff and it's great to know that The Escapist has such an intelligent and fantastic audience.

Josue Habana made some really excellent points on his blog about my article. I encourage all of you to check it out if you get the chance!
I posted a similar response to his article on his blog, but just for the sake of convenience, I thought I would also post it here.

I would like to clarify a point that I feel was unclear in the article:

I am very well aware of all of the fantastic things that SL offers--and, admittedly, I did little to highlight these in my article.

However, the article in question was written to tell the story of my encounter with "K" and "W', and not as a broad-spectrum article on Second Life in general.

I in no way believe that all people who play Second Life use this as a "replacement" for real life--in fact, I am in agreement with you that this is a very rare exception. The article I was hired to write for The Escapist was just about this one experience--even for the short time that I was logged in for, for the one "K" that I encountered, I also met probably 20-25 other people who were there for the same reasons you so aptly illustrated---to enjoy themselves and to participate in enriching and entertaining activities in a format that allows them to connect with others who enjoy the same interests.

In making the statement "people like K", I meant, specifically....people like K: in her case, she is both homebound and disabled. I think that the disabled audience is an often-overlooked consumer populace, and in some part, I sought to explore the alternative uses of Second Life, specifically, in the case of K, as her way of connecting to the outside world.

I by no means believe or affirm that all Second Life members are in any way in this situation and I did not mean to imply in any way that I believe interactions in Second Life are in any way less genuine or sincere. What I sought to illustrate with my small article is that there are exceptions to the rule--and my encounter with K showed me how people (specifically, people in her situation) can utilize online encounters to fulfill their needs.

I am an avid gamer, and I will admit that it bothers me as well when I am lumped into broad categories by those who don't understand my hobbies. Hopefully, this helps at least in some way clear up any bad taste that my article may have left you with.

Anyway, stay awesome everyone!

I've briefly been on SL, and I've seen this thing happen, hell, I was involved in a brief romance, and it does serve as a reminder that the internet is populated by REAL people, with real lives and emotions and problems. Even though I am a massive MMO junkie, I tend to shy away from forming many relationships online as I do in RL because of that experience.

K's tale is one often heard, many people who are disabled or housebound for whatever reason use things like SL and WoW and even XBox Live as their only means of social interaction. Just remember that.

Ah internet relationships nothing new. I've delve into it myself and had returned with dividend. I actually meant up with her and um...well lets just say we didn't get much sleep that night, for that matter all that week ;) I do still miss her cooking ^-^

Just make sure you arent lying about yourself if you actually plan on getting "romantically involved." Cause remember when you meet up its all gonna be revealed. Use the tools available to you to make sure the person you think it is IS that person. Facebook helps

Don't get into it if you aren't ready for the consequences! poor girl gonna have own up to reality sooner or later. This definitely not gonna bode well in the end.

This was a fantastic article. Really sad, but worthwhile reading - the way that though it's 'just online' these are real people with real emotions and personality. I feel bad for them both, though I don't see why he had to lie to begin with. It's kinda heartwarming to see that people with disabilities that leave them homebound aren't necessarily totally reliant on others, however - that with this advent of easy communication and friend finding, even if it hasn't/won't work out for her in this case, the possibility is there when it simply wasn't a decade ago.

Great article. It's amazing sometimes the bonds that we form with people before we are even aware of it. Online games like this are really no different than any other hobby or sport. I'm not sure why we think that the only way to connect with someone is to be able to see them. In many cases people find themselves spending more time with their online friends than those people around them. I have made friends and enemies online that are no more or less real than ones I make in person every day.

I remember when I played runescape all those years ago, I would make iron weapons and armor for all the little lvl1s populating the starting town. arming an army that would eventually cause chaos. I would like to think they didn't gank too much in the wildies.

So like, what happens if K just happens to stumble by this article online and read it...

Uh oh...

Meh, I wouldn't worry about it. She seems pretty engrossed in that, that thing. God I hate SL.

I would never get into a relationship over a mmo. Whenever I consider it, that fat guy from Gamer (ya know, that slightly shitty action movie with Butler in it) pops up in my mind. That pretty pixie with the fur boots I'm hitting on is probably a fat 40 year old guy who creeps chicks on facebook. Even if it is a girl, she's prolly married and old or ugly and socially awkward... Well yeah, would never do it.

No thanks, I'll stick with real females (and I know what they look like) you can actually have sex with.

Sounds like an exhausting situation. Sorry to say this but, Didn't your momma teach you not to talk to strangers on the internet? I play MMO's and joke with my guildies but i wouldnt get involved with them on such an intense level. Call me old fashioned I suppose.



I'm not sure who I feel more sorry for in that situation. This kind of drama is exactly why I stayed the hell away from Second Life. Kind of lame that he told you - for all he knew you could've been an EDiot, and after that it'd be game over, man.


Intense stuff to think about right there. I'm going to have to excuse myself and go distract my mind for a while. Good article.

darth jacen:
Very engrossing and deep article. I will now need to read something more cheery to keep my mind from racing as well, but it was worth the read nevertheless. Thank you for the article.

My comment would have been the same as this, but these fine folk said it just as good I could have.

Surprising, thought-inducing, slight empathy and now I need to go read something funny before I crack on with some work.

I've never read one of these articles before, very interesting indeed. Cheers Catie.

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