The Guardian has discovered virtual sex in second life. The subject of infidelity is front and center, and it probably should be. Infidelity is second life's national passtime. But the reality, virtual and otherwise, is more complex than that. The conflict between marriage the economic institution, and marriage the personal relationship, is old and deep. On the same day the talk about period dramas and Jane Austen. If there is a subject to the novel, it has been oft pointed out, it is infidelity and the marriage conflict. The middle class is both rich enough to need marriage as economy, and poor enough to need marriage as romance.
And so we have novels, and diversions, and distractions. A good fraction of the female population of America is about to become football widows, or join in as football moms. My roomate, having a large television, and the ability to pay for the NFL network, is about to commence the ritual of gathering around the altar of sublimated combat. With beer and nacho dip. I'm going to be out of the house tonight if I can possibly arrange it.
These diversions and compensations are often the target of finger wagging and moralizing. But why? Yes virtual sex can be real cheating, but the question is whether it makes life more bearable, and reasonable. If a virtual relationship fills the holes in people's lives, why should we not accept that it is a way of stretching life. There will be blood, I know. There will be affairs that become real, but that is the ordinary way. I know many people who have had sl affairs, but the rl ones were not with sl people.
There is also the need to explore, and often without the person whose relationship is invested with time and fraught with peril. How is it to want BDSM, or cross dressing, or three somes, or any number of other activities, when you haven't even seen if it goes beyond personal fantasy to interpersonal fantasy. Sharing something here, is a good way of seeing if it can be shared out there.
Thus I don't abide as much by the finger wagging. Yes, it is cheating, if those are the rules of your relationship. But what happens if that game is broken, and needs to be changed? It's better than a marriage bend, rather than break.
I've seen what a marriage breaking does.