Marriage gains new dimensions. Never mind whether he still brings you flowers. In 2012, the average husband will be expected to flirt with you by text message, serenade you in live video, make wanton love to your virtual double over lunch, and still have enough energy to engage in thoughtful conversation at dinner.
To say nothing of how complicated deciding to commit is becoming: Michelle Pignatano of New Jersey met Joe Trykoski of Illinois in the 3-D online environment known as Second Life—and fell head over heels.
They moved in together and got married in the virtual world, then moved in together and got engaged in the physical world. In a nutshell, that’s post-modern love. It’s an increasingly common phenomenon as we erase the lines between “real” and “virtual”— and the lines get blurrier by the day.
Soon, “Cameras will capture our expressions and movements and express them in real-time on our avatars,” says Utherverse CEO Shuster. “[They’ll] move and act like we do in real life.”
You, too, may soon live a double life on Second Life. “We’ll see the emergence of a phenomenally successful virtual world that targets the mainstream audience,” says Brenda Brathwaite, professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design and author of Sex in Video Games (Charles River Media, 2006). And that’s not a bad thing.
Today’s media paints virtual worlds as sex-drenched free-for-alls where adults create digital representations of their fantasy selves and swap their real lives for the false promises of cybersex.
It’s not true, but we seem to enjoy fearing each new wave of technology. So we ask the same old questions about every new realm: Doesn’t everyone lie about who they are? Is love “real” if it starts with avatars? Can cybersex become so addictive that it erodes true intimacy?
By 2012, thank goodness, we’ll realize that paying the occasional visit to these virtual worlds is just the natural next step in the way we relate online. It may even be a panacea for a stagnant marriage— a way to reveal ourselves more honestly, relate more openly, and maybe even send flowers more easily: on nights when he meant to get you flowers but had to work late . . . his avatar can.
“In ten years, everyone will have a virtual persona in cyberspace that will be as integral to their real lives as an email address is today,” predicts Kevin Alderman, CEO of Eros, LLC, which, early to the party, is creating erotic animations in the hopes of helping us improve our virtual sex lives.
But don’t be worried: Those personas will never replace actual physical human connection, so I’m afraid we’ll just have to find something else to fear. What will it be in 2012? I vote for robot sex slaves who can simultaneously bring us to new heights of orgasmic ecstasy while making the perfect Baked Alaska. That should scare the hell out of most husbands.