CBC program the fifth estate has released Strangers in Paradise, a documentary about Second Life relationships that includes a look at Ric “Dutch” Hoogestraat, whose wife left him over his Second Life fling.
The show looks at two couples in Second Life, examining their relationships in the game as well as the impact those relationships have in the real world. While the online world is just a “diversion” for most people, the show acknowledges, in rare instances, such as these, the virtual world can intrude on the real, often with less-than-pleasant results.
Up first is Carolyn, a married mother of four who’s become caught up in a relationship with a fellow Second Lifer from England. But after finally traveling overseas to meet the real-life man behind her virtual lover, she discovers that the flame that burned so brightly on a computer screen fizzled when brought into the harsh light of the real world. The second case is one already known to most gamers: The story of Ric Hoogestraat, who was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article entitled Is This Man Cheating On His Wife? and whose story may be told in a big-screen adaptation directed by Gore Verbinski. After his wife left him over his online antics, Hoogestraat, who’s been married “several times,” traveled to Canada to meet the object of his affection. The pair remain together, although in order to move to his home in Arizona, the divorced mother of two was forced to leave behind her two children.
In both cases, it’s just about impossible to conclude that at least one of the parties involved hasn’t crossed a very distinct and important line, not just by discarding existing relationships – husbands, wives, children – but by doing so in favor of an obviously idealized, fictional character. Seeking love is a normal human behavior; seeking it in someone else’s fantasy isn’t.
The fifth estate documentary Strangers in Paradise can be seen in full at the CBC website. (Includes adult content. Avert your eyes if you don’t like virtual boob flashes.)