Dating in the Dark is a reality show on ABC that provides an interesting parallel to dating in virtual worlds. Here's the show's premise:
Each week three single guys and three unattached ladies move into a house uniquely looking for love. Everyone is sequestered from the opposite sex until they are introduced in a ridiculously dark room ... Looks are taken out of the equation as guys and girls get to know each other in total darkness. After a few sight-unseen dates, the participants pick someone they'd like to meet with the lights on. That's when they finally get to see just who it is they've been wooing and kissing.The shows producers have taken a very conservative approach to casting. Participants so far have mostly been average looking or better and within a decade of each other in age. No morbidly obese. No senior citizens. No disabilities. Nevertheless, on just about every episode one of the contestent who was very attracted to someone in the dark eventually rejected (or at least reconsidered) their love-is-blind soul mate because of disappointment about their revealed form.
In Second Life, the variance between the appearance of an avatar and the corresponding human can be exponentially greater:
- On the show, contests can hear the other person's voice, get a sense for their physique through the sense of touch, cuddle and kiss.
- In Second Life, many relationships are carried out strictly through shared virtual experience and text-based communication.
- On the show, the fantasized image of a person is based on the imagination working off cues from the other senses.
- In Second Life, the fantasized image of a person is based on an avatar form which is usually an idealized figure with little or no connection to the corresponding human's body.
- On the show, you are certain of the other person's gender.
- In Second Life...
For virtual daters in Second Life who are NOT looking for a physical world relationship, none of this may matter. But it's interesting to consider. What if you fell in deep romantic love with a virtual sweetheart and later stumbled upon a RL picture that was unappealing? Start with a "not my type" in your mind's eye and work down to your worst nightmare. Would the physical reality undermine your attraction? Really???