Advisor: My husband has a virtual girlfriend

Discuss

76 Responses to “Advisor: My husband has a virtual girlfriend”

  1. botulf2000 says:

    Reminds mi of a Escape Pod episod about virtual boy/girlfriends.

    http://escapepod.org/2009/09/17/ep216-%CE%B2oyfriend/

  2. Cheaplazymom says:

    ummm… Ok, deep down 12 year old girls want to be strippers. They also want their uncles to fuck them. They also would like nothing more than to give the guy they babysit for a blow job in the car on the way home (let’s just call it a tip). They like it when men on the street look at their developing tits. Their idea of a good time is a gang bang in the parking lot after the prom. This is what they want deep down inside, and thank god that we have become liberated enough so that they are free to have these feelings and act on them.

    Are you now or have you ever been an adolescent girl? If not, shut the fuck up. I won’t tell you what gets you off– frankly I don’t give a damn. But don’t you EVER presume to know what is the mind of a young girl. I really HATE guys who buy their own hype and think that their fantasies are some true, liberated sexuality. This is part of my “problem” with the LOVE PLUS game because it is programing the virtual girl with male fantasies–making them her own–making it appear that it is in fact also her fantasy. (which, by the way, is what a lot of women do, because women have a strong desire to please and be loved) My POINT is that in this culture– which is constantly cramming male sexual fantasies down our throats (often literally)– it is almost impossible for girls to develop their OWN sexual desires.

    PS: the Stepford wives are the ones wearing the thongs and taking the pole-dancing classes– all good wifebots do whatever is necessary to keep Daddy’s dick hard.

  3. pinehead says:

    I’m glad Koh recognizes Rinko as a bit of software and not a real human. I myself love a good AI, and I’ve met a few that were able to push those instinctual-level empathetic buttons. Any botmaster would take that as a compliment. It’s also good that Yurie doesn’t feel threatened by it; a lot of people get very resentful of their significant other’s games or other hobbies. So they both sound like decent people.

    What I do disagree with is that sort of flaccid resignation that men have about themselves these days. Why do they insist that males are simple? If you review what we know of human history, you would find that the overwhelming bulk of it was made by males. There’s no sense in having some little slap-fight argument over it; that’s simply what our history looks like. So how could you look at thousands of years of history, then declare that men are somehow inferior things? It sounds like maybe some of us are having trouble reconciling their gender with their sense of self-worth. You guys need to get over that.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If you review what we know of human history, you would find that the overwhelming bulk of it was made by males.

      You would find that the portion that wasn’t made by males was violently suppressed, ignored and expunged from the records. Fixed that for you.

      • Jonathan Badger says:

        @Antonius
        Of course it depends on what sort of history you are talking about — obviously if you are talking about history of day-to-day life, women have always played a major role; but in normal history, the history of nations, their leaders, and their wars, only a handful of women (such as Hatsheput of Egypt and Elizabeth I of England) were major players before the 20th century. It wasn’t fair, but that’s the truth.

        • Anonymous says:

          Really? Catherine the Great wasn’t a “major player”? (heh! the Captcha is 27 Russia)

          Also, you’re describing not “normal” history, but “political” history. Cultural, intellectual, social history where women undoubtedly play a large role, are valid historical fields.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          only a handful of women (such as Hatsheput of Egypt and Elizabeth I of England) were major players before the 20th century. It wasn’t fair, but that’s the truth.

          Henry II wouldn’t be anybody without Eleanor of Aquitaine. Margaret of Anjou was pulling the strings for much of the Yorkist-Lancastrian wars. William III sans Mary ii? The Queen Mum certainly eclipsed George VI. There are very few male British monarchs of note who didn’t have consorts with equal influence. And didn’t England/Britain reach its greatest periods of world influence under Elizabeth I and Victoria?

          Despite male primogeniture, women have been hugely influential in British history because Britain allowed women to succeed to the throne. Countries with Salic law have very different histories. So, yes, it’s unfair. But it’s clear that with even the minor opportunities of non-Salic male primogeniture, women have been a powerful voice in British history.

  4. das memsen says:

    Well, ol’ Webster says it’s “exhibiting less than an expected degree of maturity.” Of course, I can already here the chorus of “who is to say what is expected? Who is going to define ‘normal’?”

    I think human beings, being the weak, fallible creatures that they are, will generally always hang themselves given enough rope. Life usually takes care of that by forcing you to confront things you don’t want to during the course of your life, resulting, hopefully, in a wiser, more balanced version of yourself. That’s maturity, to me- the ability to recognize and deal with unexpected situations in a way which is beneficial to everyone, you included. The more we allow ourselves the ability to avoid these situations, the more immature we are becoming as a culture.

    I’m sure that’s not a perfect definition, but hopefully you get the gist. I’m not defining maturity as “someone who wears a suit every day” or anything that ridiculous. I do read boing-boing, after all!

  5. dculberson says:

    I hate the false male/female simple/complex dichotomy. I certainly admit that there are things that men are simple about, but the same can be said about women.

    But yeah, this game would be embarrassing as all hell to play.

  6. billstewart says:

    At one time there was a Tamagothi program, or at least a description of one. It’s very depressed. It doesn’t like sunlight. Unlike Tamagochis, it only comes in black, ebony, or onyx colors. Sometimes Virtual Drugs will cheer it up, or you can play it romantic depressing music on your iPod.

  7. nutbastard says:

    @das

    well in this instance, ‘immature’ was defined at least peripherally in this statement, “most men are immature and want to put the least amount of effort into anything relationship-wise.”

    so we’ve got a loose definition, at least as it applies to you, which works since given that it’s literally defined by “exhibiting less than an expected degree of maturity.” the expectation part leaves it some room for interpretation.

    so, regarding your observation that men could be expected typically to be at least somewhat attracted to the prospect of a virtual relationship over an actual relationship, it all comes down to effort vs return.

    the astonishing thing isn’t that virtual relationships exist, it’s that there is an obvious imbalance that makes the effort to return ratio higher in the case of virtual relationships. my question isn’t ‘what’s wrong with this person that they would indulge in such fantasy’ – it’s ‘whats missing from this persons IRL relationships that would cause them to find a virtual relationship preferable’?

    what im getting at is that while a healthy real life relationship will (almost) always trump a virtual one in terms of return, in terms of effort, it may just not be worth it to some. if you give people the option, ‘you can work 1 hour a day and make $40 or you can work 8 hours a day and make $100′, you find out really quick which ones actually WANT to work. you find out which ones require less to have their needs met.

  8. Egypt Urnash says:

    Yurie: If there was a boy version, I think most women would be able to clearly distinguish between real life and in-game life. I have celebrities I like, too, but then I also have a husband. And they’re totally separate.

    I have seen women completely lost to WoW. Before that, I have seen women completely lost to mucks. The attachment to the world of imagination is no less powerful for women than men; both sexes will fill in gaps in presentation to see what they want to see.

    So yeah. Keep telling yourself you can hold yourself away from this kind of hole, Yurie. Maybe you can – some people are more vulnerable to this kind of thing than others. But I have seen a lot of people fall into virtual romances, with or without real ones to pull them back. And now it seems we finally begin to have software presenting a sophisticated enough illusion to do it without a person on the other end of the datastream.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wait…Dating Sim, or Dave Sim?

  10. Anonymous says:

    A major factor? That’s bollocks. Western-oriented media loves to exaggerate otaku culture as indicative of all Japan, but the reality is much more mundane. Those “sad nerds” and their virtual relations are a miniscule fraction of Japan. The shrinking population has much more to do with unstable economics and the loss of lifetime employment. Fewer people are having kids because future prospects are dimmer, especially in contrast to the heyday of the 80s.

    But blame the nerds, despite the fact that by being social outcasts, the nerds have never had any sort of meaningfully significant influence on the population in the first place. It’s easier to do that than to examine the government policies and economic institutions that really got us into this mess in the first place.

    Who cares about the weirdos, right? Doesn’t matter that they’re just as human as anyone else, it’s just too much easy fun to use them as a convenient punching bag, right? Scream and cry over how pathetic/dangerous/sick/whatever the “abnormal” people are, and alienate them further. That way you’ll always have a steady supply of weirdos to blame when things go wrong. Why try to understand them and help them rejoin society? If we do that, we won’t have any scapegoats left and might actually have to take responsibility!

    Cruelty, alienation, and scapegoating, just more of humanity’s “normal”
    self-righteous ugliness.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My soon-to-be ex got WAY too into a Second Life relationship for my liking. It absolutley did affect our personal dynamic. It was a symptom of a larger problem, but it absolutley impacted our relationship for the worse. Some can handle, some can’t. You never know which one you’ll be until you find out. Like drugs, some get addicted, some experiement and go back to real life.

  12. Gloria says:

    “Yurie: Oh yeah. That would be kind of bittersweet.”

    Considering how unusual the subject is, I was kind of surprised to find it pretty funny. In a good way.

  13. spazzm says:

    I think this comes down to the fact that men are simple.

    Methinks someone is having a spot of self-esteem issues. Maybe that’s got something to do with his addiction?

  14. greengestalt says:

    Uh, so how’d she feel if he was addicted to RapeLay, Battle Raper or those tons of “Lolicon” games they can’t import here…?

    Kind of reminds me of Lawnmower Man that was trying to predict “Virtual Immersion Addiction” and it had the scientist with his $20,000 “NextBox” computer that’d be half a modern computer even now and he was playing in the field of virtual liquid blobs. His wife comes in: “Let’s see, Floating, Flying, Falling… What’s next, FUCKING!?”

  15. Cheaplazymom says:

    Oookaaaay…..cultural norms and media imagery do NOT affect behavior… then please explain the $120,000,000,000 spent on advertising last year. Face it, humans are highly suggestible. Show us enough images of cute horny 13 year olds and young girls and boys (and their Moms and Dads) will start to accept this as normal. Frankly, we are so saturated in men’s sexual fantasies that its pretty hard to sort out what is “natural” or “genuine” and what is conditioned. The girls are as susceptible to the images and narratives as the boys. They internalize these fantasies and before you know it they are dressing like strippers on Halloween, their Mom’s are taking pole-dancing class at the Y, and the whole family is buying 100% cotton thong panties from Lands End.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Cheaplazymom

      “They internalize these fantasies and before you know it they are dressing like strippers on Halloween, their Mom’s are taking pole-dancing class at the Y, and the whole family is buying 100% cotton thong panties from Lands End.”

      I could just as easily argue that these actions are manifestations of desires that always existed and people only now feel free enough to live them out.

      Do you think a woman, in her natural state, is a Stepford wive and any sexual fantasies extending beyond laying down flat for her husband are manufactured by the media?

  16. das memsen says:

    Does no one notice the obvious: how pathetic it is that people are avoiding real-life emotional intimacy by hiding in a game that gives them the illusion of intimacy with none of the drawbacks (dealing with other human beings and their unpredictable factors) and all of the control? I get why that’s appealing men, since most men are immature and want to put the least amount of effort into anything relationship-wise. It’s still pathetic at best, and incredibly fucked-up at worst. This guy is clearly on the mild end of the scale, but even there, he clearly has some issues if he’s constantly checking out new versions of these dating games out of “curiosity”. I know boing boing is a pro-video game sort of environment, but Jesus, even geeks need to grow up eventually, for their own good.

    • kobrakai says:

      since most men are immature and want to put the least amount of effort into anything relationship-wise.

      Way to stereotype. Y snd ft.

      • das memsen says:

        Of course it’s a stereotype. That’s what “most men” means. Not all men, but most men, in pretty much every culture I’ve ever encountered. In history, literature, and present-day reality, most men are pretty immature when it comes to acknowledging and dealing with their emotional side. Stereotypes exist for a reason.

        • bibulb says:

          “In history, literature, and present-day reality, most of frickin’ HUMANITY are pretty immature when it comes to acknowledging and dealing with their emotional side.”

          Fixed that for you.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually, das memsen #12, stereotypes exist out of ignorance, not out of provable fact. It were it fact, it wouldn’t be labeled a stereotype.

          So by saying “most” of anything and classifying, you are simply furthering a stereotype, not stating a fact and thus showing your own ignorance. I could say something like “most women are overly emotional”. It’s not a fact, just a stereotype that shows my own ignorance. People may find a statement like that offensive.

          Another example:
          Saying all lizards are green is false. Saying most lizards are green is a stereotype. Drawing a lizard, coloring it green, and stating it represents lizards is a stereotypical drawing – easily recognized, but not accurate according to facts. When you apply this to people, they get offended.

          In summation: I find your comment ignorant.

        • Anonymous says:

          Gee, I wonder if you pondered as to why. In militaristic societies where there is a chance of getting drafted, men are taught to suppress their emotions and treat them as a negative thing, because the army does not value a soldier who cries on the field. That is how it is now, that is how it has been, and as long as there is a chance for war that is how it will continue to be.

  17. benher says:

    “…Maybe she’s dead now.”

    I shot tofu milk out of my nose when he said that.

    But seriously, I’ve had that same passing thought in regard to my meatspace relationships from a decade ago.

  18. Cheaplazymom says:

    So, its embarrassing that he’s got the hots for a computer program, but not that he’s hot for an adolescent. Is the game for kids? Or is the point that grown men are supposed to be acting out their fantasies about kissing high schooler girls? And yes, I know that the Japanese are all about sexualized teens and pre-teens. But that doesn’t make it right.

    • Gloria says:

      A *virtual* adolescent. Let’s distinguish between fantasy and reality. Give some credit to those who can indulge their desires in a harmless way. (Granted, this article is about how a real relationship can be mismanaged, but no real teenage girls are being harmed or solicited.)

  19. rocketpop says:

    @cheaplazymom

    Thanks for that last comment. Beyond what you said, those sexual projections are being pushed so hard that when a young girl is flirting with discovering her sexuality/desires (in a hellishly awkward and confusing state) it seems there are always so many nearby desperately(not necessarily actively/consciously) waiting for a whiff of their sexual fantasies to be “redeemed” or “validated.”

    Young women can then quickly find themselves immersed/locked into a situation, when they were just attempting to explore their ideas and feelings.

    I think everyone deserves time and space for their gender & sexual developments. In the US I find media (and lest we forget the superior works of men historically) is saturated with penis imagery.

    As much arguing happens over sex ed classes, generally parents don’t spend time even attempting to help their kids deal with such a monumental part of development.

    Who was there to help you? Has there ever been? Maybe if you pay a counselor…

    • Cheaplazymom says:

      @ rocketpop
      thanks for your elequence and concern. I don’t need a therapist. I made it through the minefield of American girlhood and sexual awakening relatively unscathed. But only because my sense of self was so strong and my determination to be true to my needs was so great. (You’re bad at kissing, you don’t get into my pants) Many of my friends were not so fortunate.

      It is fairly typical for my defense of the girl’s perspective to be met with accusations of prudery, frigidity, repression, etc. As if questioning the male centric view and experience of sex is denying ALL sexual desire, needs, impulses. Which is of course a perfect example of the problem that I am trying to articulate– many people simply can not IMAGINE a sexual reality that is not about slavish devotion to men’s needs.

      I have three daughters. Along with all the other things a mother wants for a child– health, happiness, and work that they enjoy– I would also like them to have rich sexual lives with a partner or partners of their choosing. I would like them to be treated with respect and kindness. I want them to know that they deserve to have their sexual needs met. That only they know what is right for them and their bodies.

      Maybe there is a computer game out there that teaches this. Perhaps all you geeks can point me in the direction of girl-positive media– examples of sexual game playing where “no” means “no, thank you” or “not with you”. I’m not a gamer, so I truly wouldn’t know.

  20. jjasper says:

    I think I see a side plot for a Charlie Stross novel in here somehwere.

  21. Anonymous says:

    A person has to be pretty proud of themselves to believe they know which sexual fantasies others pursue are healthy for society, in the past, present, and future.

    We cannot choose what mentally or physically attracts, or why, but we know as individuals what motivates us. To have some strange people with differnt fantasies than our own tell us that our variety of fantasy is somehow categorically unhealthy, is by nature offensive, and likely to be met with spite.

    That kind of social antagonism can also contribute to the intensity and irresistability of the object(s) of our fantasy. The forbidden fruit is the one that promises to taste sweeter than any other.

    If you think sexual video games are harmful, then don’t draw attention to them.

    I agree with the guy who said that a man’s priority of software fantasies over real-life relationships is about the ratio of effort put in to the gratification one gets out of it. If, for some individuals, software produces gratification more efficiently than human interaction, what is source of the problem?

    You obviously think you know….the software.

    Finally, harmonious human relationships are not the benchmark of human maturity. Some mature humans pursue lofty scientific or artistic goals, and are not interested in human social pursuits. Would you call their choice in life immature too?

  22. Disquisition says:

    @dculberson and Egypt Urnash: Definitely, I agree totally about the false line drawn between men and women on this topic. It’s easy to look at the other group and say “how pathetic” when you’re not the one being targeted. All humans want to feel loved, men and women, and anyone could fall into this imaginary world to get that feeling.

    @das memsen: Like I said above, EVERYONE wants to feel loved. Thousands of girls across the world at this very moment are obsessed with the Twilight series because they get this emotional feedback by proxy through the stories. To say that men are pathetic because they’re doing the same thing with a medium that is also interactive is just silly.

  23. nutbastard says:

    “how pathetic it is that people are avoiding real-life emotional intimacy by hiding in a game that gives them the illusion of intimacy with none of the drawbacks (dealing with other human beings and their unpredictable factors) and all of the control?”

    Depends. I avoid (or more accurately, purposefully do not seek) real life emotional intimacy because it’s a losing proposition most of the time. Does that make me pathetic, or am i off the hook because i’m not simulating such entanglements in lieu of actually having them?

    “I get why that’s appealing men, since most men are immature and want to put the least amount of effort into anything relationship-wise.”

    I wouldn’t put much effort into pleasing someone who appears to be a determined misandrist either. I swear some women just aren’t happy unless a man resents his masculinity as much as she does.

    “And yes, I know that the Japanese are all about sexualized teens and pre-teens. But that doesn’t make it right.”

    As long as it’s virtual, it isn’t ‘wrong’, either.

    • Cheaplazymom says:

      “As long as it’s virtual, it isn’t ‘wrong’, either.” I don’t know….I wish it were that simple. How much love play and emotional entanglement with a virtual adolescent girl gets you comfortable with the idea of flirting with your babysitter? Does raping someone in a “virtual world” desensitize one to violence against women– does it make it all “just a game?” If a “virtual girl” tells you she likes to do it with lots of guys, do you start to believe that that’s what girls want? When you are making love to a “virtual teenager” are you thinking that she’s a computer or do you think she is real and if you think she is real then what is the difference between a program and a live teen in a “virtual chatroom” that you will never meet?

      Books can spark plenty of erotic fantasies and they can be very engrossing– but they are not interactive, they do not talk back and pout, they don’t ask you to touch them and kiss them. Let’s stop pretending that there is no difference between inner life, books, and interactive games.

  24. Anonymous says:

    @Cheaplazymom
    There are lots of high school girls who are both biologically mature and in their age of consent so there is nothing wrong there.

    Beyond that it might be more about “rewriting/reliving” one’s own somewhat inpet teenage years.

    The game sounds like a tame and harmless way to experience getting to know/love someone new.
    It’s just a minor step from the daydreaming all of us do (don’t we ?)

  25. Aloisius says:

    Does no one notice the obvious: how pathetic it is that people are avoiding real-life emotional intimacy by hiding in a game that gives them the illusion of intimacy with none of the drawbacks (dealing with other human beings and their unpredictable factors) and all of the control? I get why that’s appealing men, since most men are immature and want to put the least amount of effort into anything relationship-wise.

    You are absolutely right. I often think when I see all those men completely absorbed in those trashy romance novels that they should really stop living in a fantasy world and come back to the real world where someone isn’t going to rescue them from their dull existence. Men are absolutely pathetic.

  26. Gloria says:

    “I’d actually say “most people are immature” but this wasn’t about people, it was about men; hence the statement.”

    True, but I think you’re aware enough to know that saying “people” would have avoided a lot of unnecessary fire and brimstone, especially since your generalization — unconsciously or not, in some commentators’ minds — linked you to Yuri in the article, who also makes a generalization based on sex.

  27. Gloria says:

    “Not all men, but most men, in pretty much every culture I’ve ever encountered.”

    I’m still amazed by how so many people I meet on the internet are so worldly. Every one of them veritable globe-trotters and international social butterflies. Uncanny!

    I guess it’s not difficult to meet every culture when only two exist for you — “People I Approve of” and “People I Don’t.”

  28. nutbastard says:

    “I think this comes down to the fact that men are simple.”

    that SOUNDS negative, but a simple inversion makes it sound POSITIVE:

    “I think this comes down to the fact that men aren’t complicated.”

  29. h4x0r says:

    The fact anyone would buy the game is sad. The fact anyone would play it and entertain the idea of a virtual relationship with a simulation, is even sadder & highly disturbing.

    • Anonymous says:

      There was a BBC documentary a few years back (I don’t remember the exact name), but it identified the many virtual-relationship-alternatives for young men as a major factor in Japan’s shrinking population problem.

      Basically, there are a lot of sad nerds in Japan who fell that digital girlfriends are cheaper and more understandable.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Digital gods?

  31. nutbastard says:

    so, das, i think we can all agree that the generalization regarding the level of maturity typical in men (or people, whatever) isn’t a crux of your argument, it’s just garnish on the side, and that in this specific case, perceived immaturity is best left inferred by the evidence at hand instead of treated as a given forthright? Gloria? Sound agreeable?

  32. nutbastard says:

    i only interject here because i feel like the discussion is close to devolving into a semantic clusterfuck.

  33. das memsen says:

    Let’s see. First, I do travel the world. I’ve been to most continents and gotten to know people from all over the globe during my journeys, none of which are the “stay at a hotel resort” kind. I, myself, have lived in 3 different countries as well. Not to mention all the people I meet right here at home. The internet isn’t my home- I check boing boing when I’m on a job that required me to be at a computer all day, and when I’m not on that job, I avoid computers as much as possible. But I do like to engage in a discussion- virtual or otherwise- when an interesting one arises.

    Second, I’m a guy- I’m not a woman, for anyone who thinks this is a “trash men” post. And I’m the first one to admit that most guys are like this. Not all guys, but most guys. I don’t care whether it’s nature or nurture- it’s still a fact that, until recently, was acknowledged by most intelligent people. It’s only in our current PC-revisionist culture that we’re not allowed to state something so obvious without backlash.

    Third, this isn’t trashing any men. I understand that all people need to be loved- it’s a basic human need. Yes, many women find it in their trashy romance novels, just like many men are now finding it in their new video games. Fine- I get why that is. Either way, we, as culture, used to acknowledge that this wasn’t healthy, even if it was common. But now, god forbid someone has a critical argument against it. Our current culture’s inclination is to support and encourage this behavior, which isn’t healthy and doesn’t recognize that there is no growth when one isn’t challenged. A genuine relationship with a genuine person forces you to confront things about yourself you’d rather not think about- this is called maturity. We may not like it, but it’s good for us. The more control we are able to exert over our environment, however, the more we naturally choose to avoid such messy situations, and cling to the warm, nurturing world of a computer program that isn’t going to give you shit for all your faults and flaws.

    I understand the direction current culture is taking towards this, and I don’t think it’s healthy. That’s all I’m saying. It’s not a judgment on any individual as a person- we all want to be loved, as someone said here, and that’s valid. But it is a critique on the decisions people make, and the collective attitude of our modern culture. I was just surprised that none of the comments acknowledge this obvious, underlying issue. I’m sure Koh and Yurie are very nice people- I might even be friends with them someday. It’s still not a healthy cultural trend.

    • Gloria says:

      “The internet isn’t my home [..] But I do like to engage in a discussion- virtual or otherwise- when an interesting one arises.” Haven’t accused you of the first. Many people can lead perfectly normal lives and *not* be globetrotters. The second is no sin (well, from my biased point of view).

      The fact you’re a man doesn’t change my perspective. I’d also point out many commentators here didn’t refer to you as a woman.

      “It’s only in our current PC-revisionist culture that we’re not allowed to state something so obvious without backlash.” Still your opinion.

      I appreciate you went ahead and backed yourself up with an explanation — and I don’t mean that to be condescending.

      But I still find it incredible that someone can push the idea that people — men and women — are *more* repressed about relationships than ever before in history. That you blame a computer program for today’s dysfunctional adults is just a different form of the same problem that’s plagued us forever.

      I think there has always been a sizeable population that hasn’t been able to form healthy relationships, but they do it anyway for the sake of appearances or for lack of better options. How many times do we hear about a golden age of “stable” families? People divorce more now because they *can.*

      “Either way, we, as culture, used to acknowledge that this wasn’t healthy, even if it was common.”

      I’d like to read examples where romantic novels were considered genuinely “unhealthy” rather than just silly, or at worst, an example of low literary taste.

      “But now, god forbid someone has a critical argument against it.”

      No one, as of my writing, has responded to your *current* argument. Your critical argument, previously, consisted of blaming “most” men and calling them “immature.” That’s what people reacted to. I think you’re indulging in your own brand of “revisionism.”

      • das memsen says:

        I don’t believe I ever said we’re more repressed now than ever before- that’s pretty silly. This issue has been with us ever since we know- people have always done stupid things because of their emotional needs. I’m sure the pendulum has swung in many directions throughout the different cultures in history- but in 2009, the trend towards more and more control through technology is evident. Take an ancient human trait, plug it into our modern technology, and, presto, you get this, just like you get plenty of other things. I don’t think people are any hornier now than they were 3,000 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you can’t point out the problems internet porn can create.

        I’m not sure where it seems like I blamed a computer program for all our problems, either. That’s a bit of stretch. The program, if anything, is a symptom of a problem; my comment was never really about the game itself. I’m not calling for a ban on video games, I’m calling for people to grow up a bit.

        I also never said “things were better back in the day.” Each time period has it’s own limitations and biases; however, the limitations and biases of today are towards indulging people in whatever it is they want without a context of intelligent criticism surrounding it. I’m not saying a healthier alternative is to get married out of social pressure and never talk about your problems with anyone, as people did in previous generations; criticism of the present isn’t automatic praise of the past.

        If people’s own life experience has brought them to the opinion that most men are not immature, well, bully for them. I completely disagree, but there’s no proving either argument, so why bother trying here. I still stand by that statement- it’s a generalization, but an accurate one. I’d actually say “most people are immature” but this wasn’t about people, it was about men; hence the statement.

        Finally, whether political correctness is one’s completely-independently-arrived-at-position or simply a sheeplike-acceptance-of-the-norm-position isn’t really relevant here. Because of all the sexism and bigotry that has existed in the past, people have now gone to the opposite extreme of being afraid to point out things that are true for fear of being thought of as bigoted. I don’t know how you arrived at your opinions, and all the better if they were arrived at through thoughtful contemplation. “PC” is still a very much active concept that describes our current society’s general stance, as can be witnessed by the writings in magazines and the speech on television, for example. I do think the knee-jerk accusation of “you’re stereotyping!” the minute one hears a generalization about something is a direct reflection of this way of thinking, whether conscious or not. It’s silly to assume that these expressions have nothing to do with our surrounding culture, and that it just happens to be a coincidence (though, sure, it COULD be.) 30 years ago, had there been an internet, such a reaction would have been surprising and confusing. I’m not saying 30 years ago people were more enlightened; I’m saying that the term “PC” fits here.

        • CANTFIGHTTHEDITE says:

          How are you defining immature? Emotionally undeveloped, as in a person who can’t control their emotional desires and reactions so as to accommodate another person? We should be clear on this point, I think.

        • Gloria says:

          “I don’t think people are any hornier now than they were 3,000 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you can’t point out the problems internet porn can create.”

          You sure can point them out. I’m just not sure how helpful it is. Like you say yourself, these … tools (for lack of a better word), like internet porn, are more of a symptom than a cause.

          I admit I’m colouring this with previous experience. I’ve read a lot of spouses ignoring innate behavioural traits and looking more at the things they were abusing. It’s a terrible way of addressing a problem, and it sets me off.

          With that said, it’s obvious I agree with the assertion that people are the root of their own problems.

          “I’m not sure where it seems like I blamed a computer program for all our problems, either.”

          I got the impression from the phrase “[..] the warm, nurturing world of a computer program that isn’t going to give you shit for all your faults and flaws” and the choice to preface that with a phrase on men and video games. That you bracketed your thoughts on basic immaturity with specific technology led me to believe you were tying them together a lot more closely than you really meant. I understand now it might just be colour (and you know, somewhat relevant to this blog entry).

          “If people’s own life experience has brought them to the opinion that most men are not immature, well, bully for them. I completely disagree, but there’s no proving either argument, so why bother trying here.”

          Hey, you brought it up first. I just wanted you to say, “You can’t prove it, so why bring up personal experience?”

          Re: the entire culture of political correctness:

          People read what you wrote, and thinking of “surrounding culture” and “writings in magazines and the speech on television,” presumed you were stereotyping.

          I don’t disagree with you that PC-ness is an active, widespread concept. I simply don’t think it’s anywhere as deep and pervasive as stereotyping — *perhaps* it’s so in media (and I can still disagree with that) but debating with strangers on the internet? I wouldn’t expect political correctness first of anyone.

          Again, there is the idea of appearances … I believe that political correctness is a veneer, belonging to faces when they appear in public. A lot of us put on that face in certain contexts. But stereotyping is not a face that any of us really *choose* to put on — when it’s on display, it’s more real, more genuine.

          If you think generalizing is helpful, then OK, works for you, we can argue about it, awesome. I don’t think it’s possible to “accurately” generalize, except if you mean “being right more often than wrong.” I just think being wrong all those times isn’t worth what I gain from being right.

          • das memsen says:

            “I don’t think it’s possible to “accurately” generalize, except if you mean “being right more often than wrong.” I just think being wrong all those times isn’t worth what I gain from being right.”

            The point of generalizing, and my comment, and most comments I would bother making here isn’t to be right or to prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt; it’s to offer a perspective, one which I happen to believe holds some truth, and, consequently, some usefulness for people. If we can assume, for the moment, that most, or even half of all men are described by my blanket statement, then it’s a safe bet that you know (or might even be) one of those dudes. And if so, then it’s worth your while to think about the ideas being discussed here. Part of the reason social problems get out of hand is that no one bothers to say “hey, that’s fucked up” until something big happens, and then society reacts in its usual neanderthal way of banning and censoring things. Right now, society is realizing that we’ve been treating our environment like ass, for example. Had more people said “hey, there’s something really stupid about all the disposable junk you’re buying” we wouldn’t be where we are today. Same goes for pretty much everything else in our nutty human history.

            Take it for what it’s worth!

    • Gloria says:

      Tacked-on rant: I resent the term “PC” and its pejorative connotations. It may be difficult to believe, but I genuinely believe the things I say. I genuinely believe that not “most” men are immature and unable to invest in a relationship. I believe it because that’s not my experience with the men I’ve known and because “most” is a term with shaky relations to stats or science.

      I hate the term “PC” because it implies that I’m compromising something. I’m not. This is not a fearfully sanitized version of my “real” opinion. This IS my opinion.

    • Sekino says:

      So what do you suggest? Mandatory relationship courses in school? I’m not being sarcastic, I just wonder what you feel would solve this ‘cultural’ problem.

      I see what you mean, but I don’t agree that it is a cultural or modern issue. People in general weren’t better about relationships and feelings before dating games, fanfic and internet existed. Divorce rates were lower 60 years ago, but couples back then weren’t more insightful or happy. For many, looking the part of the united, perfect family was very much an obligation. They were just doing their ‘job’. Didn’t you read the Wedding Guide? ;)

      Some people are more mature, self-aware and perceptive than others (and they probably are indeed better at relationships), but I suspect it has more to do with parenting. Once a grown adult is a dolt and has terrible judgement, it’s awfully unlikely they’ll change their ways (ever tried to ‘fix’ someone?).

      A childhood friend of mine just turned 32 this week. Most of her ‘friends’ are online in fanfic communities. We still hang out once or twice a year because pop band imaginary sex dominates the conversation. She only recently moved out of her parents’ place and started her first relationship: A girlfriend she met online and who’s equally obsessed with the same fandom. Who’s job is it to tell them this might not work out so well (then again, maybe it will)?

      • Egypt Urnash says:

        A childhood friend of mine just turned 32 this week. […] She only recently moved out of her parents’ place and started her first relationship: A girlfriend she met online and who’s equally obsessed with the same fandom. Who’s job is it to tell them this might not work out so well (then again, maybe it will)?

        I’ve been in a relationship that started in a MUCK for four years now. My boyfriends (I have two) met on a MUCK, and moved in together ten years ago.

        Maybe it’ll work out: maybe they’ll go out and do stuff now, things besides writing slashfic about their favorite bands. Maybe they’ll be each others’ ticket out of this social hole. I wish them luck.

        • Sekino says:

          Glad to hear it worked for you :) That was my point, though: Even though her behaviour admittedly seem socially immature and stunted to me, I’m not the social police (and I’m plenty of people’s weirdo myself). I’m happy that she is at least experiencing a relationship ‘IRL’ because she was getting very lonely, anytime she wasn’t online that is. I do hope it will work out for her.

      • das memsen says:

        What I would suggest, Sekino, is both what I did suggest and what you suggested- first, that we, as a culture, call a spade a spade. The comments in this post are one tiny aspect of a continuing cultural conversation, and the more we speak out and say “this is fucked up” the better off we’ll all be, since we’ll be more aware of it. I don’t think banning anything is any kind of productive answer- simply talking about it and being more aware is a good first step. Like you just said, a lot of it has to do with parenting. If sons see their dad’s behavior as being, to put it simply, emotionally checked out, well, that’s most likely what they’re going to do as adults. This isn’t a new problem, but, like an air bubble in wallpaper, it keeps popping up in new ways as we evolve culturally. Just because we got rid of it in its previous form of 50 years ago doesn’t mean it isn’t still with us in another form, and it’s up to us to say so. I thought that’s what these comment sections were for!

  34. das memsen says:

    Now when you say “semantic clusterfuck,” are you referring to the second paragraph of my third entry, or to the first paragraph in Gloria’s third entry?

    Sorry… couldn’t resist…

  35. Anonymous says:

    Books are less immediately accessible than TV, games, or music, but in terms of psychological influence they are MORE, not less, influential. Unlike TV, games, or music, books require you to actively use your own imagination to simulate the situations in your head. They demand a greater psychological investment. Books are “interactive” in a much more subtle, deeper level than the clumsy, superficial offerings of video games, and are thus actually more psychologically influential.

  36. Daemon says:

    I heard about this game awhile ago… Apparently it’s actually fairly popular amongst the girls too.

  37. Anonymous says:

    @Cheaplazymom: I’d say the answer to all of those questions is “probably not”. We can tell this by looking at sex crime rates in the various nations that have gathered data on them and relaxed pornography laws at some point during the data gathering: the sex crime rate always drops considerably when more “offensive” pornographic material becomes more widely available. What all the things you mention seem to do is not to desensitize, but to provide a safe outlet for desires that otherwise could become harmful.

  38. nutbastard says:

    “Does raping someone in a “virtual world” desensitize one to violence against women– does it make it all “just a game?””

    people don’t suddenly become sociopaths, and certainly don’t make that transformation at the behest of a computer game.

    people who abuse tend to lack empathy in the clinical sense. the source of that deficit can be natural (genetics) or environmental (subjected to abuses themselves) or both. the latter should garner a bit more attention in this case – they become violent or dissociated or misanthropic by being abused, not by having an avenue to ‘virtually’ abuse.

    sociopaths are indeed often attracted to ways to simulate their desires – but well adjusted people often are attracted to the very same things, too. the difference is one is pure fantasy, something that they have no real desire to actually do, and one is an acting out of real world aspirations. if anything, rape games and this schoolgirl stuff is an outlet, and likely do more good than harm by placating the sickos. you can argue that such things fundamentally undermine the advances in gender equality we’ve seen over the past century, but really, these are products being used by people who either recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, and those who are hopelessly disrespectful/abusive to other people anyways, on whom the philosphy of equality and respect are lost.

    bottom line – i’ve seen no evidence that rape games make rapists, that shooting games make shooters, or that driving games make good drivers. those attracted to such things IRL of course will be attracted to their virtual counterparts, but don’t make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse. they were like that BEFORE they got into the virtual. as for such simulations emboldening sociopaths to act, i just dont see it. if they have a reasonable avenue with which to get their rocks off without hurting anyone, without risking incarceration, the vast majority of them are going to settle. sociopaths might be horrible but they tend not to be any less or more intelligent than the rest of us – especially when it comes to self-preservation.

  39. Aloisius says:

    Fantasies are perfectly healthy expressions of someone’s desires and are a fundamental part of human nature. The idea that they are somehow bad or that losing touch with reality from time to time is a ridiculous. In fact, stigmatizing natural human behavior is a surefire way to make people feel bad about themselves.

    Also, video games are tame compared to the fantasies that can be generated by your average brain. A woman reading a book can generate just as much detail as any video game can and can do things that don’t make sense in physical reality. They can also fixate repeating the same fantasy over and over in their minds. A sexually frustrated man can fantasize about things far more graphic than any pornography and include people who they actually know (or wish they did).

  40. Anonymous says:

    How do you know we are not in a Sim now?

    Sims, producing Sims, producing Sims could be Parallel universes.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that this is restricted to men. I’ve heard of many women who lose themselves so completely in Second Life or World of Warcraft that pretty much ditch their real life families.

    The CBC did and interesting docu about this called Strangers in Paradise:

    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2008-2009/strangers_in_paradise/

  42. Sekino says:

    Okay, most of my point was already made eloquently by Gloria, but I’m a slow typist :P

  43. jackie31337 says:

    I don’t find it strange or surprising at all that someone could get completely absorbed in a relationship simulator game. I have been in a long-distance relationship for about two years. During that time, I have only spent about 8 weeks physically present with my partner. The majority of our relationship has been carried out on Skype, over the phone, and even on IRC. There’s a certain level of abstraction in our relationship, but my interactions with my partner still feel very real. Even when he’s just a voice in my headphones and an image on my screen, I feel that he is present with me. This made me realize that if AI ever became good enough, I could absolutely see myself having a similar relationship with an AI entity. And for the record, I’m female, so I don’t think it’s even a phenomenon specifically limited to men.

  44. Francesco Fondi says:

    “Yurie: If there was a boy version, I think most women would be able to clearly distinguish between real life and in-game life. I have celebrities I like, too, but then I also have a husband. And they’re totally separate.”

    Probably she never met any yaoi gamer…

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      Having seen some of the weirder corners of Harry Potter fandom, I agree. In fact, now I wonder why nobody has ever made a character-themed version of this kind of game for women. Or have they?

      • Takashi Omoto says:

        Konami (the Love Plus publisher if memory doesn’t fail me) makes a female-aimed version of their Tokimeki Memorial dating game called ~Girls Side~ that enjoys a customary 1st place in the sales rankings whenever the new version is released. Love Plus is a very recent concept (and in itself a evolution of the Tokimemo system), but I figure a male version will come into play sooner or later.

        One interesting issue to consider is that Love Plus has passive protagonists. In text/menu-based games, you are in the same level as the targets of affection – you communicate via text – so you can just reverse the sense of communication. But here you are the active character, and you need to “perform” suitably. If roles were reversed, would one expect the game to work in the same way?

  45. LeFunk says:

    The girl on the pic has lost her nose o_O
    Syphilis?

  46. teufelsdroch says:

    Operant Conditioning plus sex…a more powerful method of brainwashing I couldn’t tell you. “Rinko wants you to buy a coke!”

  47. Anonymous says:

    men who prefer virtual relationships do not reproduce…evolution at work

  48. swestcott says:

    I have a box of dead Tamagochi from my kids I feel wired throwing them away the kids loved them so much but being kids moved on to other things and you you can bring them back to life I guess but its weird

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