I use to believe "You guys have GOT to be Kidding me.. you want a relationship with a cartoon?"
There are 3 ways of coming into a virtual world. Dissassociatively: meaning you don't give any value to the pixels or the people behind and are purely coming in for entertainment. Immersively: Acting & reacting as if the avatar represented you and discussions are honest or you perceive they are honest. They come in to meet people and socialize. Augmentively: Those that use the virtual environment to add to real life, with work or education or even looking for real life mates.
But just like using a hammer as a screwdriver one has to be able to use the tool in it's proper way. Virtual worlds are amazing! They are especially good for those with handicaps or support systems for those that are home bound or taking care of the home bound.
I just did a wedding as Priestess of the Universe for a 24 yr old gal July 3rd. She had never been married and one of my philosophers called me and asked if I could do the wedding real quick.
I, of course, asked why the rush? I was told she has never been married and has always dreamed of a beautiful wedding with all her friends attending... and she has cervical cancer and they say that she only has a few days.
Well my first reaction was to say, Yes I would gladly do it, but in the back of my mind I questioned. "Is this a dissassociative player entertaining themselves with the drama of extremes?"
The bride took 3 weeks creating the venue for the wedding just as a real bride would prepare the guest list, invitations, flowers, dress, etc.
The wedding went well and she was over-the-moon... but three weeks later I heard that her second life friends were on Skype with her & her father as she weakened and passed away in real. ... but with a smile on her face.
A last request served up with intensity and success. How can anyone mock that?
Reality is nothing other than the roles we play in real. Shakespeare had it correct when he said all the world is a stage. We create our own plots in our minds in real or virtual.
We have people say "I love you" with no meaning in real. We play professor, doctor, cop and wear the uniform and walk the walk, but is that truly Who we are? We are a composite.
Relationships are breaking up because of virtual worlds mostly because Knowledge is power... what we conceive can be real, but it takes intelligence to comprehend the added filter computer-mediated-communication gives.
This is all so new for everyone. Be gentle people. There is value in worldwide communication on a social level.. it just all needs to settle and I have to finish my book..
Some have commented on the addiction of virtual worlds and those who find value there in.. but I say: Addiction can be chocolate or running to extremes. Nothing of value misses an addictive component.