The Second Life Love Story

A Geek Love Story: How new technology is changing the way we think about love, lust and desire in the digital age
By Jessica Bennett Newsweek
Apr 14, 2009 Updated: 10:59 a.m. ET Apr 14, 2009

Rhonda Lillie fiddles with a tiny camera on her computer, aiming its lens at her smiling face and curly blond hair. She'll spend the next four hours here, at this wooden desk in her parents' house in Oxnard, Calif. "Hey, babe," she calls out, eyes fixed on the camera. On the screen, her fiancé, Paul Hawkins, grins back, reclining in a T shirt and black boots. The couple talk about their day while Hawkins's teenage sons play computer games behind him. She woke up with a migraine and had to miss her morning sociology class. He jokes about the curried chicken he cooked for dinner: he ate it all, and—he pats his stomach—it's starting to show. Lillie giggles."We've both gained weight since we started dating," she says.

Lillie and Hawkins met four years ago atop a waterfall overlooking a lush green valley—the kind of magical tableau you find only in romance novels, or in sophisticated virtual universes. The two had stumbled upon each other in Second Life, the 3-D computer world where nearly a million people log in regularly, communicating via digital representations of themselves, or avatars. Hawkins's avatar was tall (very tall: 7 feet 8), with darkened eyes and a towering white Mohawk. But it was his boots that caught Lillie's eye: black, ornamented, dazzling. "The most intricate boots I'd ever seen," she says. Lillie, whose own avatar is porcelain-skinned, with white or black hair depending on her mood, was thunderstruck. "Heart Wishbringer" (that's her avatar's name) and "Joe Stravinsky" (that's his) spent the next three weeks online together, chatting for hours via IM. Then, before they'd ever seen or heard each other's real voices, they got "married" in Second Life, like 43,000 other couples, typing their vows while their avatars stood atop the waterfall where they first met. Then Heart and Joe stripped down to their naked digital bodies and swam in the crisp pool of water below[...]

Newsweek Tells the Second Life Love Story of Heart & Joe
By Pete Linden
2009/4/14 上午 11:13:12
[...]Having had the pleasure of corresponding with the couple in the past, it’s great to see their story told so well in this piece, and it’s especially gratifying to see the journalist hone in on some of what makes Second Life so special: the real personal connections made possible by the virtual world. As Ms. Bennett puts it so well: Technologies like Second Life are allowing us to rethink what being "together" really means.

It’s always great to see the positive impact Second Life can have on Resident’s lives, and we love hearing stories like Heart’s and Joe’s. Here’s wishing them all the best! [...]

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