Love In The Time Of Internet

February 15, 2010

My husband and I have been together for over seventeen years. That’s pretty much the entirety of my adult life, and almost half of my whole life so far. Hopefully, it’s only the beginning. Hopefully, we’ll both live long lives and will celebrate the births of grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren and those years of our lives that were spent without each other will seem distant and momentary and we will tell people, we have been together forever.

It seems such a rare thing these days, couple staying together forever.  My husband sometimes remarks, when we hear that yet another relationship – a relationship of someone close to us, or someone not close to us, or someone that we only know through People magazine – has foundered on the rocks of infidelity or irreconcilable differences, that it seems that everything, everything these days is stacked against lasting love. What that everything is, he’s not sure, but it worries him, sometimes. What if it comes after us, he asks? What if it sneaks up on us when we’re not looking and consumes us before we even know what’s happened?

It won’t, I say. Because we’re always looking. Because we value what we have too highly to let down our defenses. Because our love is our defense. And so on and mushy so forth. But I understand his concern. We live in an age wherein the opportunities for undermining one’s relationships are more numerous and more varied than ever before. There is more to be distracted by, more to be tempted by, more to cause one to forget – for a moment, for many moments, for far too long – about what really matters.

I’ve seen, in the last few years, too many marriages crash on the rocks of the Internet, too many relationships suffer because there is so much else to do and so many others with whom to do it. I’ve listened to peers complain that their partners don’t want them to write about this or that private matter; I’ve read the e-mails attached to countless submissions to the Basement, cursing the fact that a husband or wife or significant other doesn’t understand their need to share. I’ve seen far too many friends and acquaintances take their sharing elsewhere, away from the person with whom they share their offline life, to someone else, someone online, someone who better gets them and their deepest, innermost thoughts, the ones that they publish online. I’ve watched, and lent a sympathetic ear, and understood – this world, this virtual world in which we finally, finally get to tell our stories, uncensored, often seems so much more vibrant and more real than the world in which we change bedsheets and diapers and argue over who will drop the kids at school and who will make the doctor’s appointment and who will pick up the milk. In this world, we are writers. Artists. Activists. In this world, we are noble, we are fascinating, we are awesome. We get to project our best selves onto a virtual screen and see ourselves – and see others see us – as our best selves, as the selves that don’t change diapers or bedsheets, or that make the changing of diapers and bedsheets funny and interesting and – maybe, if we’re really on our game – poetic.

It is so easy to be seduced by those selves, by the idea of those selves, by the idea of being received and understood primarily on the virtues of those selves. It’s the dream of anyone who is a geek or has ever been a geek, anyone who feels or has ever felt misunderstood; it is the high school dream of having your secret poetry-and-sketch-filled notebooks discovered and seeing everyone realize that you are, underneath your Sex Pistols t-shirt and ironic barrettes and black fingernail polish, really a genius! And so funny! And then they all want to be your friend, or fall in love with you! Or both! The difference, however, in the age of the Internet, is that we put the contents of those notebooks up on Blogger or Twitter or Facebook and wait to be adored and when – if – the adoration comes, whether from one person or one hundred or one thousand or more, we sit back and tell ourselves that we always knew that this could happen, that we always expected this to happen, if we only had the opportunity to show ourselves as we really are. And we forget, some of us, in the thrall of this lived dream, that there are people who have always adored us for who we really are, only they don’t say so on Twitter.

This, I think, is the dangerous thing, the monster, that can creep up on us: this forgetting, this unvaluing or undervaluing – when held against the sparkle and glitter and heat of the virtual world – of our real, ordinary worlds, and the relationships therein.

There are corollary dangers, of course – the dangers attendant to finding ex-lovers on Facebook, the dangers of e-mail flirtations, the dangers of cultivating any virtual relationships that might supplant the one that is the basis of your real-world home, the danger of placing greater value upon one’s life in the virtual world than upon one’s life in the real world, the danger of simply being distracted. Such dangers are not, of course, restricted to interaction in the virtual world, nor are they new: Helen’s desire to pursue a new and more interesting life with Paris launched the Trojan war; Emma Bovary’s attachment to romance novels prompted her to seek romance outside of her marriage; Anna Karenina, of course, followed her unfaithful heart and ended up – broken and broken-hearted – underneath the wheels of a train. And so on. It’s an old, old story. But it’s one that, I think, becomes more common the more that we embrace opportunities to speculate upon and indulge the fantasies of what if? What if my spouse were more dashing, more romantic? What if I had a partner who loved discussing philosophy in the middle of the night as much as some of my Twitter friends? What if I were married to someone who truly understood my obsession with Glee?

The Internet – taken in the larger context of a mass media that assaults us, constantly, with images and stories about how much better our lives could be, if – has, arguably, become the postmodern, poststructuralist, interactive equivalent of Emma Bovary’s romance novels: it tempts us with the possibility that there could be something or someone better out there, that we might be happier with that something or someone else, that everything that we have here, right in front of us, is so much less interesting, so much less sparkly and fascinating and fulfilling than that those other possibilities, and then it invites us and gives us the means to explore those possibilities from the safety and security of our kitchen tables or home offices.

We don’t all do this, of course. And not all relationships that founder these days do so because of social media, and not all relationships that do founder for any reason related to social media are relationships that would have otherwise survived. It just seems, though, that this – this phenomenon, this thing – is so much with us, and that it carries so much potential for harm where harm mightn’t otherwise have occurred and it just makes me so sad every time I hear about another relationship being shattered after battering against the hard, glittery edges of new media. I tell my husband, when he voices his concerns, that these relationships probably would have shattered, anyway – any relationship that is so fragile that it could be disrupted by the Internet, or by what its participants see in magazines or on television or in movies, could not have had long to live, I insist – but is this true? I read another Basement submission or talk to another friend or hear another rumor and my conviction wavers.

I’m secure in my marriage, but still – I’ve set some ground rules. I won’t publish a story against my husband’s express wishes (just as I would expect him to do, were our situations reversed), I don’t seek out exes online, I don’t cultivate intimate relationships with members of the opposite sex, I don’t bitch about him online, I don’t share with others – confessions, secrets, grievances – anything that I wouldn’t share with him. Not because I believe that our marriage would be in mortal danger if I did any of those things, but because I don’t want to take any chances. What I have is too valuable, too precious. It wouldn’t be worth the risk. It just wouldn’t. I want to hold hands with my husband when we are in our very old age and the Internet and blogging and Facebook are so much far-distant retro bullshit and say, we have been together forever

And then we’ll turn to our hologrammatic communication avatars and have them Twitter that directly into the post-electronic hive-mind, and we’ll high-five each other with our wrinkled, iPhone-bent hands.

This post was prompted, in part, by last week’s Basement post about a Facebook-fueled affair. It was not the first such post of its kind, of course, but came in a week wherein it seemed that every magazine and news feed had stories about infidelity and after a weekend during which I sat on a conference panel about memoir-writing and fumbled over questions about how and why I share or don’t share certain stories online and what my husband and family think about all that sharing. Which, you know, prompted some reflection. But am I overthinking this? Am I overexaggerating the dangers? Do you keep your real-life relationships front of mind when you’re deciding what to reveal – or to whom to reveal it – online? When you’re cultivating relationships online? What would you do if your marriage and your Internet came into conflict? Are you certain that your marriage would come first? What do you do – do you do anything – to make sure that it does? Could I have come up with a better topic with which to harsh Valentine’s Day?

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    { 82 comments }

    Theresa February 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I totally agree – each person has their limits. Mine? No negative blogging about my husband. No kvetching. Because he’s my best friend, my team mate, the guy who has my back. I think we forget sometimes (myself included, hello PMS!) that our partners are the people in our lives who deserve the BEST treatment, not the leftovers. Well said and fully apropos re: Valentine’s Day. What’s more romantic than coming clean about being dedicated keepin’ it together forever with your husband? Heck, I would almost take that over chocolate. Almost. :)
    .-= Theresa´s last blog ..We Heart La Fête des neiges =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    “our partners are the people in our lives who deserve the BEST treatment, not the leftovers.”

    SO important to remember, and so easily forgotten.

    Anonymous Today February 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    You said: “I don’t cultivate close relationships with members of the opposite sex”.

    This is something I’ve heard over and over again throughout my life as a “rule”. A way of respecting your partner and ensuring you don’t end up tempted.

    But what if you are bisexual? Does that mean that you cannot cultivate close relationships with anyone other than your spouse?

    I am a bisexual woman in a monogamous relationship with a man. We’ve been together for 15 years, married for 12. I do not tell a lot of people that I am bisexual because I don’t want people to assume I want to have an affair with them just because I’m getting close to them. Society already polices my friendships with men that way. I don’t need it policing my friendships with women that way too.

    All that to say, if not pursuing close relationships with members of the opposite sex is something you need to do to avoid temptation, then it is great to recognize that and act accordingly. But I guess I have to take the risk (?) of becoming attracted to a friend if I ever want to have any close friends at all.

    Her Bad Mother February 15, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    That’s a fair point. I suppose that the clearer way to put it would be, ‘don’t cultivate close relationships with anyone with whom there might be a temptation.’ Obviously, as a heterosexual, I wouldn’t be tempted by just anyone – there’s lots of scope for relationships outside of the sphere of people who might potentially ‘tempt’ me. But I think that I can make good guesses about who I might be tempted by, and could spot such a development early enough on to know that I should avoid the path I’d be wandering down. I don’t shun male friendships entirely; I just don’t actively cultivate close ones. (I should say that I have, in my life, developed close friendships with men – especially during graduate school – so the word ‘avoid’ should be taken as an alternative to ‘reject’ or ‘refuse.’)

    The point here isn’t to avoid any and all temptation because I am or my marriage can’t cope with such temptation. It’s avoiding trouble before it starts, by being aware of potential risks. Do I miss out on a potentially great friendship by avoiding *close* relationships (not all relationships) with men to whom I might be or become attracted? Sure. But I’ll suck up that loss for the sake of my marriage. I wouldn’t want my husband in an intimate relationship with someone for whom he might have an attraction, so I won’t go there, either.

    But your point is a good one, and I stand corrected on my original phrasing.

    Loralee February 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Um…no. You are not overthinking it at all.

    AT ALL.

    The internet can be a great and a terrible thing for certain.

    I cannot tell you how many people I have listened to say “I would NEVER! I would NEVER!” only to have them sobbing their guts out on my shoulder.

    I think it’s like porn in a small way. Those that wouldn’t necessarily have gone out and gone to a bookstore to ask for one behind the counter or subscribe to a magazine might look because it’s in a dark, private room and CLICK…it’s right there.

    People who may not have an in life friendship or go to the trouble to look up an ex/hire a private investigator don’t have NEARLY the roadblocks…The internet makes it so easy to connect.

    I think your approach is wise, babe. xo
    .-= Loralee´s last blog ..Conflicted =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Yeah, I’ve heard far too many ‘I would nevers’ only to see them retracted, too. And they make my heart hurt.

    aqua February 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    “And then we’ll turn to our hologrammatic communication avatars and have them Twitter, directly into the post-electronic hive-mind, right?”

    I love it! Brilliant!

    Loralee February 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    That was one of my favorite quotes, too. ;)
    .-= Loralee´s last blog ..Conflicted =-.

    Jack February 15, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I think that a lot of people enter into marriages with unrealistic expectations. In addition many are young when they get married and don’t really know themselves very well.

    Add kids into the mix and all sorts of craziness comes down that you don’t always expect to encounter.
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..Was It Good Sex or Love =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 15, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I totally agree – and I think that in some such cases, the Internet can be toxic to those relationships. Which might be as it should be, but I also think that some relationships are hurt here that shouldn’t be.

    Jack February 16, 2010 at 11:48 am

    That could be true. What would you like to see happen?
    .-= Jack´s last blog ..Was It Good Sex or Love =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I don’t know that there’s anything that should ‘happen’, other than for people – couples – to be conscious of the amount of time they spend on the Internet and about the types of relationships that they develop here and to be totally open with their partners about that stuff. It’s just a matter of awareness and openness and discussion, I think.

    judy February 15, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I admire your strengh to put it all out there in your posts. Keep up the good work.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    strength, or foolhardiness ;)

    Angela England (@AngEngland) February 15, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    It’s only overthinking if you consider buckling your child’s carseat before heading to the grocery store “overthinking”. I mean, no one thinks they will get in an accident, but you still take precautions!

    I will never post about my husband when I’m angry. I wouldn’t want him telling his buddies at work how horrible I can be. Why would I do that to him? Like you said – it’s a matter of respect. While I do have friends and acquaintances of both genders, I think the key here is openness. If there were ever an email or IM conversation I wasn’t willing to show my husband that would be a huge red flag! Not that he stands over my shoulder – but he could if he wanted.

    My husband is not only my best friend – but my favorite person in the entire world. :-)

    Angela <
    .-= Angela England (@AngEngland)´s last blog ..Fun Toddler Activities: How to Enjoy Baking with Your Toddler or Preschooler =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 15, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve been tempted to rant – on blog or twitter – about some thing or another that my husband has done to piss me off. But I always, always, resist. ALWAYS. Our conflicts are not for sharing; it would be a betrayal. Unless he gives me permission, of course. Then I go to town ;)

    Angela England (@AngEngland) February 16, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Yes, exactly. If I can’t solve my differences with my husband with MY HUSBAND than how is someone else going to help?

    Besides – my temper is so….Italian…it never lasts long. I’d hate for a temporary frustration to be bits and bites all over the internet permanently. The impression in other people’s minds will last far longer than my momentary upset feelings.

    Angela <
    .-= Angela England (@AngEngland)´s last blog ..Fun Toddler Activities: How to Enjoy Baking with Your Toddler or Preschooler =-.

    Beth February 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Ok, well I think it boils down to a) what people expect marriage to be like and b)how committed they actually are to each other (and not just the idea or concept of being married).

    Getting married doesn’t change, or rather fix, a relationship. He’s not going to magically always remember to take out the garbage or close the cupboard doors. She’s still going to leave her makeup and hair brush all over the bathroom counter. Pretty much every little annoyance will be multiplied once you’re married.

    If you’re committed to your spouse or partner and willing to acknowledge and deal with issues than I think you’ve got a better chance at it than someone who thinks it’s going to be hunky-dorey just ’cause.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Odd Searches =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 15, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I totally agree. A strong marriage is a strong marriage, and shouldn’t necessarily be weakened by things like, ugh, the Internet. But then, I’ve seen stuff that suggests otherwise. And I think that the strongest marriages benefit from recognizing that they’re not invulnerable.

    My parents thought that their marriage was invulnerable. And then it wasn’t. I’ll never forget that.

    Steve February 15, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    On the flip side the internet brought me my wife (thank you Match.com) and hence my two kids…. who then lead me back to the internet to write about them.
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..Nursery parent-teacher chat =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 15, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    And that is indisputably awesome ;)

    Alison February 15, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Not overthinking at all. It’s refreshing to read some thinking about this thorny issue. I admire the way you rarely blog about your husband – he’s like a safe, secure presence in the background that is mentioned when appropriate. And I have tried to follow your lead. I find it a turn off when people bitch about their partners online – it just seems so disloyal (I may have let my standards slip once or twice!). If someone is going through an actual divorce it’s also tricky – what if the kids read it, what if your ex-partner reads it, although conversely some of the best writing I am reading at the moment is from people going through just that..but they keep it about them, not a bitchfest. What really resonated with me in your post is the bit about distraction.

    I don’t feel I’m in danger of a flirtation with another man, but rather I could become so immersed in other people’s lives and the next instalment that I forget my own, in the real world. When my husband says, blogging again? when I know he wants me to sit down and watch The West Wing (hey, I know I’m years behind)and I’d rather be catching up with blogs, then I know I’m in trouble.

    Great post, as always.

    Kelly February 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I don’t think you are overthinking it at all. I’m still processing all my thoughts about your compelling post (while dealing with a tantruming child), but I have to agree with you that it is important to constantly check in. I have in the past said things online I shouldn’t have, and it was painful. A little forethought can save you a lot of heartache.

    The Diaper Diaries February 15, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    This post is so important to me. My husband and I teach marriage preparation classes at our church and where I live people tend to get married very young. The naivety at which people approach Facebook, close same sex friendships and the like troubles me.

    Rarely do affairs start was some steamy one night stand on a business trip. They happen when someone pays you more attention, seems to understand you better, etc than your spouse. What better place for that to happen than on the internet where you can be whoever you want.

    My husband and I take this very seriously. We don’t cultivate friendships with exes and generally are very, very open about our online comings and goings. We also don’t have opposite sex friendships outside of our friends as a couple.

    Our culture is so short sided in marriage these days with a very big “I just needed to be happy” mentality. We are all missing out on the richness that comes from toughing it out and arriving on the other side with a deeper, more satisfying marriage. I desperately want to grow old with my husband and will do everything within my power to make that so. Is it mind numbingly hard at times? Absolutely. But I truly can’t imagine anything more worth it.

    Fantastic post!!

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 10:54 am

    This –> ‘Our culture is so short sided in marriage these days with a very big “I just needed to be happy” mentality. We are all missing out on the richness that comes from toughing it out and arriving on the other side with a deeper, more satisfying marriage.’

    YES.

    cagey February 17, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Oh, my GOD.

    YES.

    I am a child of divorce and have witnessed COUNTLESS divorces over the years via friends and family. Oh, so much family.

    My marriage is not easy right now, we are facing many external stresses right now. But I forge on in the knowledge knowing that our hard work WILL pay off because we are in this for the long-term.

    Alison February 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    No, not overthinking at all. Refreshing to read some thinking on this. I really respect the way yourarely mention your husband. It’s like he’s a safe, solid presence in the background. Only mentioned when appropriate. And I’ve tried to follow your lead on that (may have slipped up a few times!). I find it a real turn off when people bitch about their partners on their blogs – it just seems so disloyal. Conversely, I am reading some of the greatest writing from people who are going through divorces/separations but they keep it about them rather than a bitchfest. Still, I sometimes worry the kids will read it – if not now, then in the future.

    I don’t think I’m in danger so much of an internet flirtation but I could be in danger of getting so caught up in other people’s lives – eager to read the next instalment – that I forget my own. You sum that up beautifully when you talk about distraction. I know that if my husband says ‘blogging again?’ when I know he really wants me to come and sit with him and watch The West Wing (I know, years behind but I’m in the UK and we’ve only just bought the box set), and if I would prefer to be catching up on blogs, then I know I’m in trouble.

    Great post, as always.
    .-= Alison´s last blog ..And When Did You Last See Your Rabbit? =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I struggle sometimes with not talking about him – and sometimes he even asks why I don’t talk about him more. But I do think that it’s important to keep his stories HIS, and to keep our conflicts OURS, and to our marriage before the blog ;)

    Maggie May February 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I have only had one issue when it comes to my marriage and the internet and it’s the big one you mention- what I can and can’t share. In my marriage there is a HUGE elephant in the room, a lingering and extremely emotional issue that might possibly at some point end the marriage, and not talking about it, not writing about it, is very hard for me. I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I publish poems about my childhood. That’s what I do. It’s what saves me from the chaos of my insides. And I can’t write about this thing, because my husband doesn’t want me to. So I don’t. But I resent it half, and understand it half. I don’t think it’s going to affect the outcome of my marriage, and I am working hard to do every positive thing I possibly can to make it work, including just WAITING, which is undervalued these days, in addition to therapy, etc. OUr issue is not a romantic ideal of life, that is for sure. I had too hard of a childhood to ever have a romantic ideal of relationships or life. But some things just are too damaging and too ill to be saved, and only time will tell.
    Thanks for a compelling topic.
    .-= Maggie May´s last blog ..People In Your Neighborhood: Amy Ross =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I so hear you; so many women (and probably men) who write struggle with issues like that or very much like that – how to balance privacy and desires of our partners when something big is just bursting to get out?

    (You could always write about your elephant in the room in the Basement, anonymously. You’re more than welcome to :) )

    lisa @thebeadgirl February 15, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    wow…thank you for sharing. thank you for your honestly. thank you for drawing a line.

    i think about it and worry about it constantly. as much as i love the internet, i love my social media, i worry about the what if’s? especially when i read stories such as the one in your “basement”.

    i have been married for 15 years…and i intend to stay that way and grow old and grey with the man i love.
    .-= lisa @thebeadgirl´s last blog ..FREE Hugs! =-.

    Nissa February 15, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I got married at 22 (just three years ago) and people were upset because they thought I was too young. It really pissed me off – especially when people who told me this were divorcees, endlessly singles, and people who have a history of terrible relationships.

    I choose to look at marriage like this: the man I married, whom I love more than any other thing on this planet, is my safe place. My home.

    The rush, the lust, the intensity- the things that will ultimately fade (and have in many ways, are already faded) in my marriage are the things I find elsewhere in my life. My career, my travels through the world, my weekends, and often with my husband.

    I don’t expect perfection. I don’t expect my love life to be the only source of happiness, excitement and stability in my life. That doesn’t work, for anyone, ever.

    Right – sometimes, the marriage just doesn’t work. That’s true. My parents were an example of this. I feel that far too many women (and men) let their dreams go and give in to a subdued lifestyle, so when their marriages become stale, they blame it on the marriage. They expect their self esteem to come from someone else – and not themselves.

    I think marriage is wonderful. I’m sad, horribly sad, at what terrible shape it is in right now. I’m sick of hearing about affairs and infidelities. It just makes me horribly sad. I can’t tell people how to treat their marriages because I’m not them – but I do wish that things were different.

    Thanks for writing this, Catherine. I am going to spend some extra time with my husband tonight.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    This – “I choose to look at marriage like this: the man I married, whom I love more than any other thing on this planet, is my safe place. My home” – captures perfectly what is awesome about a good marriage.

    And? I didn’t marry at 22, but I met my husband when I was that age, and we’re still in it and thriving, so. All the best to you!

    Gwensarah February 15, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I see how the internet *could* be bad for marriages but in my case it actually helps my relationship. I’m usually sitting next to him while on the computer (he’s usually watching some History Channel thing) so it’s not like I have anything to hide, he doesn’t get the whole blogging/tweeting thing but likes reading my tweets as I am sending them (I think he likes the tweeting so I can say inane things and yet not interrupt his program ;)
    And while the one person I am usually constantly in IMs with is my ex-byfriend, it’s all very open and non-threatening to all parties involved.
    I do think that the internet can be a slippery slope if one is in chat room, and the like or is constantly trolling online for porn at the expense of real life relationships, I’ve seen it happen way too many times not to sometimes have a niggle of unease about the darker power of the internet.

    Bon February 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    started a tongue-in-cheek post last night (for Vday) about how social media is GREAT for relationships. ended up not finishing it to actually spend time with Dave.

    i get the irony. and i think social media bring us into realms of temptation that we’re not especially equipped for. for our generation those doors generally closed when we left high school or college or moved away or whatnot, unless we made specific one-to-one efforts to keep in touch. which, with the one that got away…is not so likely. until Facebook. plus social media allow relationships to flourish based on the intimacy of asynchronous self-exposure, which for a certain type of personality (erm, mine) is absolutely like crack. so meone writing to me and performing for my entertainment in small literate chunks is waaay more hot than the dirty socks on my floor every morning.

    but…i see social media as the access channel, not the actual trigger to relationship-damaging behaviours. i think the processes by which a person engages in flirtation and crosses lines online or through social media channels are no different in terms of steps and slippery slopes than at the office or at a party or whatnot. the path to intimacy may seem more innocent online, but i think a person who is clear about his or her own boundaries can be fully and safely online.

    or at least, my own relationship is premised on that idea. and in a way, social media really HAS been good for us. during the years where i was home with bedrest and babies and isolation and grief, it gave me a social community beyond Dave’s shoulders, and gave him a learning community beyond the small confines of PEI, one that he could access while still being here beside me to, y’know, fetch me water whilst i lay pinned to the couch.

    interesting post.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    I think that you’re right that it’s an access channel, although I do think that there are certain aspects of the medium that perhaps lend themselves more readily to problems than do ordinary real life social environments – the round-the-clockness of it, the nearly infinite opportunities for meeting new people, the encouragement to share stories and secrets and forge semi-intimate relationships, the sense of intimacy that can emerge when one falls into conversations late at night after the family is asleep… etc, etc.

    I think that the difficulty is, in part, that this is all just so NEW. We know how to navigate flirtations at cocktail parties. Do we know how to navigate the intimacies that develop online?

    You’re right, though, that general clarity about boundaries is a solid defense – or offense? – against any potential weirdnesses. But I think, too, that even the strongest marriages do well to stay on their toes, and to never assume that they are immune from weakening forces.

    Stacy February 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I don’t think you have over thought this at all. My soon to be ex-husband sits in jail as I type because of things he did online. Having porn so easily accessible started him on a slippery slope that led him into the realm of child porn. This did not happen over night. It was a process that went from looking at women his age to meeting random women for sex. Eventually the “normal” porn did not give him the high he was looking for. At what point he moved into looking at pictures of teens, I have no idea! He hid his secrets very well. But someone knew because one night the police knocked on my door and arrested him.

    Wow this is the first time in almost 6 months I have actually typed that out. I wish now that 14 years ago when I first found he was visiting porn sites I would have gotten rid of the computer. But hind sight is always 20/20, right?

    I think what you have said really hits the nail on the head.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Oh, oh. I am so sorry. *hug*

    Jessica February 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I think that a lot of people forget that a marriage takes work. Just like any other relationship in your life, if you take it for granted, it will weaken and you will drift apart. You can’t get married expecting things to always be perfect, because shit happens; half the time it’s getting through all that shit together that makes a marriage strong and lasting. I applaud those who are honest enough to admit that there is temptation out there and intelligent enough to avoid it.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog .. =-.

    Another Suburban Mom February 15, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    When Hubman and I both started blogging we set up a few ground rules. We don’t say anything negative about the other person online EVER and if we write something about the other person we let them see it first before we publish.

    We follow those same rules over to Twitter.

    We each have complete access to each others emails and everyone we communicate with knows that.

    As far as exes, they are exes for a reason and we do not have romantic feelings for them.
    .-= Another Suburban Mom´s last blog ..For Those Who Had A Sucky Valentine’s Day =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    My husband and I have access to each other’s e-mail, too – we know each other’s passwords, etc – and everything is pretty much as open as it can be. Which is as it should be, I think.

    Brenda February 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Brilliant read!

    Totally agree with you on the “won’t share with others anything that I won’t share with him.” This should be included in the marriage vows. I’m just saying.
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Sugar, Oh Honey Honey =-.

    Kristin February 15, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Not sure I agree that the internet or social media forums are a threat to fidelity. A strong partnership is a result of trust, maturity, integrity and honest communication. Where those are lacking, the internet can certainly make infidelity easier. But to think that limiting access to the internet will limit broken marriages is, in my mind, backwards logic. People don’t lose their integrity because they log onto Facebook.

    Like a previous commenter, I met my husband on match.com. I also found my voice and my feet in the world through writing, which has only improved my relationships.

    Beautifully written post. Glad I found you (through Brenda, on twitter).
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..Lost in Kansas, planet earth =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Oh, I wouldn’t for a minute suggest that limiting access to the Internet is a solution, not at all. My point is that even the strongest marriages – and I do consider mine a very strong marriage – should always be aware of potentially harmful forces, and never simply assume that they are above harm. It’s the honest communication that you mention – that should include, I think, discussion, sometimes, about how we’re using new media (whether on the level of ‘gee, I wish we’d talk more in the evening instead of you reading blogs,’ or agreeing to not share stories without consultation or maintaining openness about other close friendships that might develop.)

    M.Bailey February 16, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I still remember taking a marriage preperation course (all of 8 years ago), and being reminded that our memory of an argument can fade so quickly. Telling others — not so much. They will remind you and remember of that one argument you had way back when… So, the point being, some things are best not shared. Especially when it comes to one’s own personal relationship details.

    M.Bailey February 16, 2010 at 12:03 am

    BTW, I wanted to congratulate you on 17 years of marriage…and a great post!

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Thank you :) (it’s not 17 years of marriage, actually – we’ve been together over 17 years; been married 14 years this year… )

    Lilia February 16, 2010 at 2:22 am

    What self righteous crap. Relationships do not break up because of the internet, that would be like saying relationships broke up because of the phone and post offices.

    Relationships founder because people do not grow together or they entered into a relationship before evaluating if this really was the right partner for them. Most people have this idealized notion that marriage is all roses and romance or quite frankly they are afraid to be alone. Perhaps if they spent more time developing themselves and achieving their dreams then they would be happier with themselves. People also can stay in decades long marriage because its comfortable and safe.

    If you think your partner who travels for business doesn’t have their head turned on occasion your dreaming. It can happen anywhere any time in an office, at a store, at school. Perhaps instead of blaming the internet people should examine themselves and ask am I doing what I want, living the life I desire, achieving the things I want out of life. If your not then change the things you need to do so so you are a happier and fulfilled person.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 9:24 am

    You’re right, it is self-righteous crap. I alone have diagnosed this ill, this love-destroying cancer, the Internet. I have ignored entirely any other issues, and claimed that the Internet eats love like candy, and that all are vulnerable.

    Actually, I said no such thing. I pointed out that relationships end for a variety of reasons, not just ‘the Internet,’ and that strong relationships mightn’t have anything to worry about, if they really are strong. The point of this was to suggest that even strong relationships require work, and need to be on their guard, and certain characteristics of new media might be something to be on guard against.

    Jennifer February 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    And you are right. The internet is just one avenue that can threaten a relationship. It would be folly to guard against the internet but spend office lunches with the guy in the next cubicle. Relationships are strong because you fortify them.

    Ami February 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    There are times in the course of a long relationship when it is not possible to be actively strengthening one’s marriage. Terminal illness of a family member, an aging parent requiring additional help, loss of a job, a natural disaster or other catastrophes may sap our ability and stamina to build up our relationships.
    If both partners have discussed these potential relationship landmines (such as the internet)BEFORE then there can be a little piece of mind while one deals with the disasterous cards that have been dealt. After the chaos has cleared, then everyone can get back to the business of strenthening and building relationships. Being prepared doesn’t just work for Boy Scouts, it helps all of us, which is the message I got from this post.

    mary February 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    This is not self righteous crap. I believe you hit the nail on the head, Catherine.

    My husband started playing Second Life three years ago. At the time, another hobby led him there. He has always loved music and dreamed of becoming a DJ– and Second Life allowed him to try it out without expensive equipment and a requirement to play YMCA at weddings.

    Prior to Second Life, hell, even to this day, my husband and I have always had a very strong relationship. We make it a point to spend time together and time apart. We are still attracted to each other, and work to maintain ourselves to that end. We have shared interests, and have faced shared obstacles. We are tender and considerate with each other.

    Second Life is an incredibly accurate example of the kind of real life v. online life dichotomy Catherine is discussing here. People create glamorous avatar versions of their best selves– trendy clothes, perfect figures, finely rendered features. In Second Life my husband can be a rock and roll god– not the man who struggles to find work in his “back-up field” — let alone live his dreams.

    And he met someone there, in the game. She lives on the other side of the world. She is older and less attractive than I am– with kids– something neither him or I have any desire for. I see so little he could possibly have in common with this woman. The only explanation I turn up with when I think about this relationship is exactly the type of situation Catherine describes. They are attracted to the best parts of each other– to the lives they project. He is attracted to something that I (in all of my bill paying, house-cleaning glory) could never be. He is attracted to an illusion, and to his own self as a component of this fantasy world.

    In that world he is amazing, adept, intelligent– and she is some kind of mystical creature. In our world, he is occasionally unemployed and I wash off my makeup when I come home from work.

    We have what it takes to be together for the long haul– chemistry, compassion, friendship. When he says he loves me I believe it. I don’t know how to walk away– if I should walk away.

    What I do know for sure is that this isn’t self righteous crap. We are encouraged to be our best selves online. When you have the ability to play God with your image– add the right photos from the right angles, pretend like you finished college or have a more glamorous job– this is what happens. People become attracted to myths.

    The submission about the husband who is having the phone affair could easily be my story with some minor revisions. He checks in with her here and there, claims he needs to for some reason pertaining to the game, and I try to ignore it– wait for her to go away. I never in a million years expected that the considerate, sweet man I married would do something like this to me. I wish all the time that he had just slept with someone else– our relationship is easily strong enough to survive something short term and physical. An emotional affair is different. While a physical affair might lead me to believe that he is no longer attracted to me– an online affair with someone 15 years older and 18 timezones away indicates what, exactly?

    That he is in love with a fantasy he has created with her, where no one is flawed and everyone says witty fantastic things.

    Thank you for this post, Catherine. I think you’re dead on.

    Backpacking Dad February 16, 2010 at 2:45 am

    “…philosophizing in the middle of the night…”

    A young philosopheuse like yourself should know better than to summon the dashing, romantic, Phantom of Philosophy, he of the scarred visage and late-night songs sounding suspiciously like Andrew Lloyd Webber numbers…

    “Night-time sharpens,
    focuses attention.
    Darkness stirs and sparks your cogitation.
    Disregard your senses (“They’re error-prone,” Descartes says.)

    Leave the Cave and bathe yourself in Truth now.
    Form and matter, everything is two now.
    Turn your death askew
    tracking Sartre and Camus,
    Wittgenstein would say
    your claims cannot be right -
    philosophers start games instead of fights…

    With your eyes, or your hands, you can distinguish shapes
    for Molyneux those ideas were each their own.
    Wager that
    there’s a God whose works He’s shown.
    And who makes
    good things good by choice alone.

    Full this world is,
    There’s no such thing as vacuum …
    Act from duty.
    No causal reasons, says Hume…
    Acquire freedoms from for
    those freedoms found in Hobbes’ war
    But know that
    all your means are justified-
    And science aims for bold claims, falsified …

    End the class of the owner
    start the commune now.
    All your thoughts are
    just network stimuli.
    There’s a man who can’t read a Chinese word
    But with code he’s a true translation nerd.

    Floating in a
    lifeboat with three others
    Eat the old guy, because the rest are mothers.
    God did not begin,
    But confess your mortal sin.
    The Golden Mean means having balance in your life.
    Have faith, but fear and tremble with the knife.

    For Berkeley, G., esse est percipi…
    But now I think the only thing is me.”
    .-= Backpacking Dad´s last blog ..The Rule: A Valentine’s Day Story =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

    You’re trying to seduce me, aren’t you?

    Annie @ PhD in Parenting February 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Or he’s trying to convince you why you can’t be friends. ;)
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..My little Valentine =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    That’s probably it.

    Backpacking Dad February 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Who me? Nah, that’s just a song I heard one night in the library.

    Stay away from drafty mirrors, and make sure your husband keeps the torch high by his face to foil the garrotte.
    .-= Backpacking Dad´s last blog ..The Rule: A Valentine’s Day Story =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Noted.

    Delphine February 16, 2010 at 4:25 am

    fantastic post !
    Extremely interesting and well-written as usual.
    I don’t think on-line flirtation is the same as flirting at a party : it is MUCH MUCH easier.
    If you’re shy, like me, “harmless” flirtation behind your screen might come to you much more easily than it would in real life.
    I’ve been extremely happily married for 8 years and I like to think I would never cheat(if only because it would devastate me to be cheated on) but something happened to me which made me realize how fast you can slip.
    Once I was reading medical articles online and I came across the name of my first boyfriend, a Dutch exchange student from highschool. So I emailed him, he emailled back and even though the messages were harmless and could have been read by my husband, Oh my god the thrill of receiving them, the incredible burst of nostalgia, the temptation to see that person again, who knew me when I was 16 years younger – and thinner etc… The messages stopped after a few days but I was really shaken by the force of what I felt. My therapist said it was exactly like a drug rush.
    Now I know what it’s like for people who experience this kind of thing with a co-worker or a neighbour and even if I am not judging them, I will be extremely careful not to go on that slippery slope.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing that – I think that most of us can imagine that type of thrill, or something close to it. We’re all human, after all. And it’s so, so important to remember that.

    WarsawMommy February 16, 2010 at 8:14 am

    I loved that part about those ‘other selves’ that take over on the internet, and the need that some of us have to be adored (and in a few noteworthy blogger cases, to be worshipped). I love how you point out that many of us already have people in our lives who adore us, and how the internet can so easily take us away from them.

    Absolutely fantastic post. This is my first visit here, but you can bet I’ll be back.

    Miss Grace February 16, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Many of my best, and closest friends are men. I think this has to do with the fact that my family is overwhelmingly dominated by males, and ‘boy think’ is often more clear to me.
    These aren’t sexually charged relationships, and I can’t imagine viewing them as dangerous.

    That said, I’m also single, so it’s hard for me to know if this opinion might change.
    .-= Miss Grace´s last blog ..Weekly Winners – #SSTOA =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    yeah, as I said to another commenter above, I think that the key issue is the possibility of attraction, temptation. I’ve had close male friends that were quote-unquote ‘safe’ because there was no possibility of that ‘charge.’ (whether that ran both ways, of course, I don’t know ;) )

    Tiffany February 16, 2010 at 9:54 am

    This was absolutely fabulous. I wholeheartedly agree with your points, and I think far, far too many couples downplay the hazards of certain online activities. The biggest key here is open, honest, transparent discussion with your spouse. My husband knows when an ex contacts me on Facebook, because I call him over to look, and we spend a few minutes giggling over the past. He does the same when one of his exes contacts him….we tell each other about this person, and check out their picture, then move on. When things are kept secret, in hiding, they become bigger and more seductive than they should be. When discussed openly they just….go away.

    As for blogging, if I want to write about something really personal, I always ask my husband if he’d mind. And so far he’s told me everything is fair game. But he trusts me and knows I’d never publish anything hurtful or demoralizing.

    Even still, it’s far too easy to fall into the Internets. There’s times when he’s talking to me and I’m engrossed in something online I find myself nodding and uh-huhing him. That’s when I have to pull myself away and say, “Sorry, wasn’t paying attention, start over!” Thankfully, he knows me and my online shenanigans enough that he isn’t offended. He laughs at me and starts over.

    But if I kept things secret from him, or he didn’t “get” what it is I do on this laptop, I fear we’d be in for some rough seas ourselves….

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I certainly get sucked into the distraction, sometimes paying more attention to the iPhone or the laptop than to him. And then I catch myself, and smack myself upside the head and remind myself that a real live human being who loves me is much better than anything that’s going on at Twitter, any day.

    Apryl's Antics February 16, 2010 at 10:17 am

    The internet can create marriages and the internet can destroy them. I’ve seen both. Great post and it certainly acknowledges the power the internet weilds.

    Okay Then February 16, 2010 at 10:29 am

    This post is fine and all, but why the constant pimping of it on Twitter? I think you’ve mentioned it at least 4 times. We get it: You have a blog. You wrote something. Link once and move on lady.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 10:49 am

    It’s actually kind of standard Twitter practice to retweet a post that one wants read/discussed a few times, to hit different audiences, because, after all, not everybody is on Twitter at the same time. It’s good enough for Guy Kawasaki, so I’m comfortable with it. Also, it’s sometimes nice to have conversations carry on over there.

    But, you know, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to follow.

    jonniker February 16, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I really, really liked this, and found it to be very, very true.

    I do have close friendships with men, though, although I’ll say there are a few limits on them, AND those men are also in committed relationships with the same attitude towards their marriages that I have: that is, they are married, period, and nothing is more important. But those relationships, I am careful to ensure, NEVER reach a level of intimacy beyond that of my marriage, although I have the same rule in female friendships.

    And to those of you who think the Internet isn’t a threat to fidelity, HOO BOY, I am a little jealous of you, honestly, because you’re being a bit naive. Yes, people’s heads are turned in real life, but the Internet provides a way to develop intimate relationships and seek to fill the holes in our own egos/marriages without feeling like you’re doing anything “wrong.” It’s not the only threat, but it’s a very real, very dangerously insidious one that can sneak up on you in ways that real life doesn’t always mimic.
    .-= jonniker´s last blog ..Thriller =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    I think that you make an important point – that calibrating intimacy can be just as important in same-sex friendships, or any friendships (if we want to leave gender out of it). Intimacy with one’s spouse should always be primary, and dominant.

    Megan February 16, 2010 at 11:15 am

    This is so, so real for me. I needed to read this today – thank you for putting this out there!

    When I was 15 years old my family got our first computer, and shortly after that I watched my parents’ marriage fall apart as my dad sat up all hours of the night talking to other women in chat rooms, neglecting his family for something he described as “harmless”. The one day he disappeared and he called a few days later to let us know he was ok. He had been in another state, with another woman. A woman he had met on the internet. And that was the end of my parents’ marriage.

    It’s been 10 years since that happened, and I recently found myself getting sucked into social media. Things got so bad that I became addicted to twitter and reading blogs that my husband told me over Valentine’s dinner that he wanted to leave me – not that he was going to, just that he wanted to. I hadn’t realized how much time I was spending online until then, but then it clicked. I was completely neglecting him and our baby to read about the lives of complete strangers. So in the last few days I have limited myself to online going online when my husband is at work AND the baby is sleeping. And already I can see a difference in us.
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Confessions =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Aw, lady. *hugs*. And good for you for realizing what was going wrong – and for your husband, for being open about it – and for fixing it.

    Jennifer February 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    You are not exaggerating at all! This is an excellent post. I spent some time with my arms wrapped around a woman in tears because her relationship turned out not to be the dream she always thought it was. The irony of it is that her husband’s infidelity happened because he loves her so very much that he never thought it could happen to him. Never thought he could be tempted away from her and so he let his guard down. You should guard your intimacy aggressively. And I mean your emotional, relational intimacy. No one puts their security gate against their front door. they put it at the end of the walk or drive. There is nothing sacred between that gate and your front door, but it serves as a buffer. Put your boundaries far enough away from what is truly sacred. That way, if someone does happen to breach it, they only land in your buffer zone and you still have time to push them back.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Romantic Movies =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    This? –> “No one puts their security gate against their front door. they put it at the end of the walk or drive. There is nothing sacred between that gate and your front door, but it serves as a buffer. Put your boundaries far enough away from what is truly sacred. That way, if someone does happen to breach it, they only land in your buffer zone and you still have time to push them back.” — is EXCELLENT insight and advice. Thank you.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Whoops – that was supposed to be a reply to Jennifer’s comment, directly above. Gah.

    verybadcat February 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Ah, modern love. Well, let’s see. I blogged about my wasbund, I tweeted his misdeeds, hell, a few times i trashed him just to see if he was paying attention. (he wasn’t). and the straw that broke the camel’s back was his affair started… on Facebook.

    So. We had serious inherent problems that caused us plenty of misery with or without the internet, and I can’t say that what happened would have happened without sloppy online boundaries.

    But perhaps more telling than all of that is this:

    I won’t do it like that again. I will not be doing more than occasional vague grousing on Twitter, I will not blog the very sad or angry, and as far as Facebook? To me the boundaries are much harder to place on Facebook without being purposefully intrusive and nosy. Maybe the best way to immune yourself to Facebook is to shut down the computer and get horizontal. Often.

    I heart this post.
    .-= verybadcat´s last blog ..And So It Goes =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 16, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    ‘sloppy online boundaries,’ yeah. it’s so tempting to let them get sloppy, to keep them sloppy, and so hard to unsloppy them. sigh.

    Lisa February 16, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    As usual, a very interesting, thought-provoking post.

    I do think the danger you see and write of, applies more to a specific subset of people. I imagine that those who pour their hearts and souls out on the internet, are driven there because they don’t have that outlet in real life. They don’t have someone who gets them. They’re thirsty before they ever get online, and so are more tempted to drink from the forbidden well.

    I mean, look at all the mommy bloggers. It seems standard issue that they start blogging out of loneliness – which makes sense, since sahparenting is so isolating in these modern times. They may be fine in their marriage, but still looking outward for a connection, something their spouse simply can’t be for them. No spouse can be everything for another.

    So there will be other bloggers also missing some connection and go online seeking it.

    Trish February 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

    What they said too ^ !
    Everyone should read this !
    .-= Trish´s last blog ..Wednesday =-.

    cagey February 17, 2010 at 9:50 am

    My husband put his foot down on my blogging about my “journey” through post-partum depression. It was a single argument and that was the end of it. I respected his wishes, because I respect our marriage.

    I respect myself and equally, I respect HIM.

    When I “confessed” all of this to a high-traffic blogger she sniffed her nose at that and declared that it was “my” blog and that he had no right to ask me to not write about “my” PPD. At the time, her words stung and I did question my acquiescence.

    Now, I can only wonder what her own marriage must be like if she really thinks a blog, an outlet is more important than her own husband’s wishes.

    In general, if there are pre-existing emotional cracks within a marriage, having an online existence simply makes it easier to explore other options. Sadly, once a person dips their toes into those waters, they discover it is chock full of riptides and undercurrents. As I am sure you have seen, I have been simply shocked at the type of folks who find themselves in the midst of even an “emotional” affair these days.

    Tons of good thoughts in here, Catherine. I have been ruminating over them for several days now. While my marriage is safe, my problem is online vs. offline friendships. I have a tendency to give more of myself online these days simply because it is easier and more convenient. It is hard to get away from my family, but quite easy to hop on the computer to tap out some emails, Tweets, Facebook comments, etc.

    However, I have sadly neglected some offline friendships and I need to seriously ponder that now. Thank you for giving me something to mentally chew on.
    .-= cagey´s last blog ..First? I need a saddle. =-.

    Quadelle February 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Excellent post, with so many good points. I know people who were so negatively impacted by their parent’s infidelity that they thought it “never” possible for them, and were devastated by who they became.

    There are two things we do that have gone a long way to keeping our marriage safe. Firstly, no public put downs. Not even the light-hearted joking ones. Even if it’s something we can tease each other about privately we can’t presume it’s okay to take it public. What this translates into is that we feel safe and supported by each other. Secondly, as soon as we notice we’re attracted to someone else, we tell the other. A secret attraction grows and grows. An open one is not nearly so thrilling.

    Alana February 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Late to the discussion, and haven’t read all the other comments so I’m sure someone posted this already: What are your thoughts on sites like “Second Life”. Talk about immersing yourself in an imagined/imaginary/fantasy world and living another life altogether. I’m fascinated and a little bit terrified about sites like that and what that means about “real life” life.

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