Margo’s got me scratching my head again…her perspective on online affairs seems to be straight from 1998:
Dear Margo: My wife and I regularly play an online video game. Since I work full time and she doesn’t, she plays more than I do. A few weeks ago, she asked me if I had a problem with her spending a lot of time playing the game with an online friend, who happens to be male. I said that as long as he was “just a friend,” it was no problem. Over the past few weeks, however, I noticed behavioral changes in her that made me think something was amiss, so I read her game logs on her computer to assure myself that their relationship was “just friends.”
Long story short, I found enough in the logs to become very upset. I confronted her, and she admitted that she is in love with the online guy! She says she also loves me, is confused and doesn’t want to hurt either one of us. I love her, and the thought of her leaving makes me ill, but I want her to be happy. I also want her to hurry and make a decision because the stress of not knowing if she will leave me for him is killing me. But she doesn’t want to be rushed into making a decision. — Nice Guy Who Doesn’t Want To Finish Last
Dear Nice: I am having trouble with this. Your wife is playing an online game and thinks she’s fallen in love with Online Gamer Guy? Sheesh, it doesn’t take much, does it? The Internet being, well, the Internet, for all she knows, her game-boy could be an elderly lady who writes romance novels. No offense, but your mate doesn’t sound as though she’s wrapped real tight. Either that, or there’s not much going on in your marriage. It just seems addled to me that anyone could think she’s fallen in love with an unseen partner playing a computer game … and she’s telling you to hang on until she decides. I think if this happened to me, I would begin a new game called “Let’s Separate.” But in your case, I would suggest you both stop with the video games and instead go to a couples counselor to see what is wrong and what can be salvaged.
— Margo, amazedly
Amazedly? Frankly, I’m amazed that she’s amazed. Although of course it’s true that people can embrace imaginary identities online, and some do, that’s no longer the majority of folk. Most people, it seems, no longer have a clear divide between their real and virtual lives, but rather find their online presence–on blogs, social networking sites, gaming communities, message boards, etc.–to be more or less integrated, and indeed a major facet of, their “real” lives.
Child molesters posing as teens trying to pick up other minors? Yes, still (and always) a legitimate danger. Extrapolating that to predict that a longtime gamer is in fact an elderly woman pretending to be a man playing a game….? Come on, Margo. Get real. The situation this writer is in is hardly uncommon. In fact, these days, marriages wrecked by very real virtual affairs are probably far more common than affairs wrecked by false identities.
“It just seems addled to me that anyone could think she’s fallen in love with an unseen partner playing a computer game … ” shows a total ignorance of the changing social world in which she lives….which I can only imagine will leave her readers wondering why she has any business advising about it.