You know what would make us feel pathetic? Marrying someone only to discover he has a twisted double life in a different name with another wife. You know what's the only thing that could make us feel even more pathetic about that? If that "wife" happened to be a made-up character in a cartoon virtual reality world that our husband, under the name "Dutch," wooed only after spending his actual salary on videogame "defined stomach muscles, a furry chest and special hair that sways when he walks." Anyway, "cheating" on one's spouse in the virtual reality world Second Life is the latest trend in harbingers-of-the-apocalypse news, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal:
It's really devastating," says Sue Hoogestraat, 58, an export agent for a shipping company, who has been married to Mr. Hoogestraat for seven months. "You try to talk to someone or bring them a drink, and they'll be having sex with a cartoon."
Ah, Sue, do our hearts go out to you. Although in the future, when a man proposes after spending "two years on the road selling herbs and essential oils at Renaissance fairs," just say no.
On the other hand, we've seen a lot of marriages like this. Just usually not in the seventh month.
The next morning, he's at his computer at 10 a.m., wearing the same black Harley-Davidson T-shirt. It is Sunday. He's been logged on to Second Life for four hours.
Staring purposefully at the screen, he manipulates his avatar, who is shirtless in cut-off denim shorts and flip-flops and renovating the lower level of his mall. "Sunday is my heavy-duty work day," Mr. Hoogestraat explains. Earlier that morning, he evicted 10 shop owners who hadn't paid rent, and signed up four new vendors, including an avatar named Arianna who sells virtual necklaces and women's shoes.
Sue Hoogestraat thinks her husband Ric spends too much with his Second Life wife.
From the kitchen, Mrs. Hoogestraat asks if he wants breakfast. He doesn't answer. She sets a plate of breakfast pockets on the computer console and goes into the living room to watch a dog competition on television. For two hours, he focuses intently on building a coffee shop for the mall. Two other avatars gather to watch as he builds stairs and a counter, using his cursor to resize wooden planks.
At 12:05, he's ready for a break. He changes his avatar into jeans, leather motorcycle chaps and motorcycle gloves, and teleports to a place with a curvy, mountain road. It's one of his favorite places for riding his Harley look-alike. The road is empty. He weaves his motorcycle across the lanes. Sunlight glints off the ocean in the distance.
Mrs. Hoogestraat pauses on her way to the kitchen and glances at the screen.
"You didn't eat your breakfast," she says.
"I'm sorry, I didn't see it there," he responds.