Admit it, you’ve secretly wasted hours of your free time on Facebook updating your status and leaving your friends messages on their wall. Maybe you’ve dabbled in Second Life, or have played the online game World of Warcraft. We live in a world obssesed with social interaction, only we’d prefer to talk to the person we’ve never met on the other side of the world rather than our next-door neighbour. We are a generation of infomaniacs.
But when you get divorced in real life after a virtual affair, hasn’t it all gone a bit far?
Amy Taylor and David Pollard are getting divorced after three years of marriage ended when Amy discovered David’s Second Life character, Dave Barmy, having sex with a virtual hooker. Quite surprisingly, this isn’t the first divorce case the couple’s solicitor has dealt with involving Second Life.
This is mind boggling. Virtual interaction is that. Virtual. It isn’t real. There has got to be a limit to how our online activities influence our real lives. After all, it would be insane if insurance companies started to base car insurance premiums on how someone drives in Grand Theft Auto.
Of course there is a line. Certain online activities are policed. Most of us wouldn’t dream of using the internet for such things. Rather the internet has become a major social tool. But such is the power of the world wide web and interactive games that it has surpassed social tool and become a social hindrance.
There is a notion amongst the Millennial Generation of “if Facebook says it, it must be true”. At a party recently I overheard a friend tell another that, “you’re not in a relationship until Facebook says you are.” Have we really become so caught up in virtual social interaction that everything we do is dictated by a screen and a wifi connection? Whatever happened to the old art of letter writing or even face-to-face meeting?
In the case of Amy and David, I can’t help thinking that if they had spent more time actually speaking to each other in person rather than hiding behind their alter egos and living idealistic lives through the internet, their marriage may have succeeded. Indeed, David explained away his infidelity claiming Amy was more interested in her life online than she was in him.
And while Amy speaks of the “ultimate betrayal” in her husband’s virtual affair, it would appear she hasn’t learnt her lesson. She met her new boyfriend through World of Warcraft.
Contradictory as it may be, we live in an age submerged in all manner of communication tools and barely know the people who live in our street. We have lost the ancient human ability of communication while striving to advance the ways in which we can stay in contact with each other.
It’s time to quit Facebook, commit Second Life suicide, turn off your computer screen and go to VA meetings.