“Femme Fatale Online” is the mystery enovel based on Second Life where Rick, the married hero, faces a crisis of conscience as he considers his relationship with an attractive woman, Joan, he befriends in a virtual world, “Personal Portal,” or PP. He agonizes over whether to have virtual sex with Joan and romances her in PP–dating, holding hands, hugging, kissing. He has no idea who or where she is in real life and has no intention of meeting her in the flesh. This raises several questions I’d like to see discussed here: Can a person in a committed relationship spend too much time or become too deeply involved with a virtual friend? Is it acceptable for a committed person to romance a friend in a virtual world? Is it acceptable to have virtual sex?
The first time Rick’s avatar kissed Joan, he wondered about the propriety:
“…the two figures embrace(d), but instead of a quick, socially correct peck, a polite squeeze, and immediate disengagement, Isaac and Joan locked lips.
“Mmmm.’ appeared beside Joan’s name in my conversation box. Excited, imagining the feel of the real Joan’s body and lips, I indulged the fantasy until the conscience of a married man with two little kids asserted itself…
“I’d shared a pretend kiss with a woman I’d never really met who wasn’t really there. It would never lead to anything real. It seemed no different from fantasizing as I read a sexy novel, so I concluded it was equally innocent.”
Joan addresses the issues involved when she tries to persuade Rick to have virtual sex. He objects:
She pulled her head back and frowned. “I can’t believe this. Married—so what? You’re not doing anything. Imagining isn’t doing. Psychiatrists support themselves with people in that trap. We can’t touch or see or hear each other, and we’re X miles apart. You don’t know who I am, and we’ll never meet in RL, so what we do here won’t lead to anything. It’s no different from watching a sexy movie.”
“Martha wouldn’t appreciate it.”
“For heaven’s sake, Isaac and Joan are just pixels on screens. They have no souls, just programs. Why would anybody object to anything they do?”
“You’re putting me on the spot. I don’t have a ready answer. It feels wrong.” I squirmed in my chair.
She took Isaac’s hands in hers. “It’s not wrong at all. We’ll both enjoy it. You won’t hurt your wife or your marriage.”
“…I questioned again whether it was appropriate for a married man to carry on a virtual friendship. I mentioned my uncertainty to Joan.
“Why not? It doesn’t affect your relationship with your wife in the slightest. You’re not robbing your wife or kids of your time or attention. Everybody is entitled to a hobby and (this virtual world) is yours. It won’t lead to anything–our friendship will always be virtual. So relax.”
What do readers think of Rick’s and Joan’s reasoning?
More on “Femme Fatale Online:” Using videotapes of their trysts, Joan blackmails Rick into carrying out industrial espionage for her at his megacorporation in Pittsburgh. He has to keep his job, which becomes increasingly unlikely, or she’ll kill him and his family. Rick must identify her and her whereabouts so he can stop her before she acts. Details on the book and author can be found at the book’s Facebook page (facebook.com/rodgersmystery), or its Amazon page.