There’s quite a stir in the media about a Real Life divorce which has been caused by the behaviour of the husband’s avatar in Second Life.
One piece of follow up can be found here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7729207.stm
The couple concerned met in SL initially, then met up in RL and eventually got married both in a RL registry office and in a SL ceremony. However, the behaviour of the husband’s avatar on two occasions with two different female avatars, one an online prostitute, has been cited as ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and has led to a divorce. Here is a case of behaviour in a virtual world having a very real effect on life in the real world.
It’s tempting for many to dismiss Second Life as ‘just a game’ but behind the avatars are real people with feelings and needs. This was a point made at a recent meeting in Guildford UK where a group of lawyers, theologians and others gathered in RL were joined by members worldwide in SL to discuss the development of the ministry of the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life. As Mark Brown, Deacon-in-charge said, “We are not dealing with pixels but with hearts.”
None of those present at that meeting was in any doubt that this expression of Anglicanism is as real as any other. When avatars meet together for worship there is a sense of community, of being present as a group to offer prayer and praise to God. When someone asks for and receives prayer it is a genuine experience of having needs heard and a response offered. Real friendships build up in the times of socialising that often take place on Epiphany Island. There is care and support for those who are going through difficulties in life.
We are using technology to facilitate our meeting, but it’s the hearts, minds, souls and spirits of real people who actually meet through this medium and find their (real) lives enriched as a result.