I went on holiday to the Caribbean today. It didn’t take long to get there; in fact I dashed over in my lunchtime and got back in time to write this. I didn’t have to carry my bags or get a visa and the only time I felt any jet lag was if I drank too much coffee at the Bahia Tiki Beach Coffee Shop or stayed up too late in one of the discos.
Welcome to my virtual world, where my avatar is my alter ego and I become the person I have always wanted to be, visiting places I always wanted to go to. Millions of people go on virtual holidays every day via websites like Second Life, but it is not always bright and sunny. Some people who prefer their trips to be more macabre choose places like Vamporium, where menacing horrors include crypts, haunted castles and all manner of gruesome creatures. In the creator’s words, “a truly dark adventure awaits you”. Or you might prefer to leave terra firma and go into outer space and look for alien artefacts on Mars. While you are up there, pop into Coma, a beautiful fantasy retreat floating high in the sky.
If all this sounds crazy and you cannot understand why anybody would want to spend time pretending to be someone else in an imaginary place, when there are real places and people to visit, I get you. It’s a bizarre concept, but one that attracts people for many different reasons, like exploring their alter egos and meeting people who are doing the same and being unaccountable for their actions. This got one Japanese woman into real hot water when she married then divorced her virtual man, but was left so angry that she logged on as him (he must have revealed his password during their virtual nuptials), and virtually killed him. He filed a complaint with the (real) police and she is now facing a possible 5 years in prison or a $5000 for hacking.
If all you want to shout is, “Get a life!” you may receive the answer, “I’ve got one. Come and visit me. I’m the bikini-clad blonde with the Dolly Parton figure swinging in the hammock under the third palm tree after the surf shack on Bahia Beach.”