Identity and Expression, Second Life

Virtual Worlds and Second Life: Bring on the Love

What’s WRONG with love in a virtual world? Why does the press insist on obsessing with sex and divorce? Well, pretty much for the same reason I’m writing this post – as a shameless traffic generator.

Not really.

But hyperventilating commentary about the forlorn and the jilted, the lovestruck and cheaters – well, it makes good press, although it reminds me of the early days of the Web when the media, which didn’t understand what was going on, focused on what they termed a seedy underbelly and what everyone else termed a natural reaction: if you have a new vehicle for making whoopee, why the heck not? Besides, Second Life won’t cook dinner for you so you might as well get some of your basic needs met.

I’ve written at length about the power of virtual worlds as a site for real feelings and how they inform our understanding of how we carry emotional connections into online space. I think this is healthy amazing stuff (although, like all healthy things can be taken to extremes….a glass of wine a day can help your heart, a bottle a day can steal it).

Was it Philip who talked about SL being a dating site at SLCC? Can anyone find that quote? He was asked about adult-oriented content and went on this sort of tangent where he said something about sex at the office. It was such a priceless Philip moment.

I think that love and dating and maybe just connecting for a virtual coffee or dance is one of the things that holds virtual worlds together, it’s the pulsing heart, just as it is in physical life, and yet what we get are ads for owning your own home or throwing snowballs at Winterfest. But why NOT advertise more of the love?

When a client asks me about sex in SL I tell them – “OH! Then you KNOW about that! That’s awesome! Because what does that tell you about how far the level of engagement in a virtual world can go? What does it say about how deep collaboration can be?”

If nothing else, it often ends up being a pretty wild conversation and I breathe a big sigh of relief that they brought it up. Better to get it on the table, talk about the filters, and dress codes, and how you can have a private sim away from all that stuff – but use it as a learning opportunity, a discussion point, speak about the broader implications for where consumers or students are living their lives these days, whether it’s in virtual worlds or Skype video calls.

I was pinged on an in-world dating service that’s in start-up mode and looking for testers. And I have to say, I like the idea of this, although I can see it being extended to non-love based topics….why not list yourself as looking for someone who wants to go sailing or to an in-world concert or whatever? Plus, this type of thing can really help bring connection when to some of those single green dots….whether the reasons are just to hang out or they include a trip to Zindra.

“Second Love is a free gridwide dating HUD for friendship, partnership, marriage, adoption and more. Create your own profile and connect with others everywhere you want. Second Love is designed in a website look ‘n feel, but all the system is entirely >>ingame<< and always where your avatar is. It uses latest web & database technology to handle a lot of concurrent users."

With all the talk of linking to Facebook and this idea that sociality is happening somewhere ELSE, that social media is someone ELSE’S domain, it’s refreshing to see that there’s love enough to go around in Second Life, that you can socialize and meet people and, yeah, go on a date. You don’t need a widget on Facebook, you need one on or somewhere – “go on a trial run in Second Life before you meet in person” or something like that.

And in the meantime, come into Second Life and grab yourself a Second Love HUD and see what engagement is all about.


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