When asked to weigh in with a few tips for hooking up in Second Life, we didn't know how to respond. On one hand, we weren't sure we wanted to give away the secrets that have transformed us from housebound twerps to Second Life bum plumbers. On the other, what is this, high school? Share the wealth, Dad always said.
So here are five dos and don'ts for romantic and/or slightly seedier pursuits within Second Life. Be safe out there, kids.
DO: Make new special friends. The instant-messaging functionality within Second Life makes it simple to engage any individual whose avatar you find alluring. The messages can be short or long, open to the public or private (cue '70s porn-funk music here), you name it.
DON'T: Go straight for the jugular, so to speak. As in the real world, relationships evolve over time...well, unless copious volumes of alcohol are involved. In Second Life, it's best to adopt a policy of similar restraint—you know, a few quick words about yourself before you start in with the boob compliments. If she's receptive to your whispered words, you'll know soon enough.
DO: Check out the scenery. Second Life is spatially infinite, it seems. You can find an isolated area to call your own (if you know what we mean) and do whatever you please without violating any of those pesky obscenity laws that make real-world public affection/disease-sharing such a drag.
DON'T: Assume nobody gives a damn and go about your sexy business wherever and whenever you choose. Really. Second Life is a little like Deadwood—few laws, fewer morals—but your fellow inhabitants will frown on indecent displays...well, the non-pervs will, anyway.
DO: Hit the clubs. Duh. Go where the gals are, and where they're inclined to be in friend-seeking mode. Dance a little. Sidle up to the bar and make some light conversation. In other words, do all the things that make you uneasy and awkward in the real world.
DON'T: Start your gal-seeking efforts in the middle of crowded thoroughfares. As much as you might want to jump the virtual bones of that virtual sultry brunette purchasing virtual furnishings, chances are she won't find your attempts at charming small talk all that engaging. Second Life denizens tend to be very task-oriented.
DO: Give role-playing a shot. You can even go the full nine yards and switch genders. Let's face it: Unless you're much, much, much more fortunate than we are, you're never going to find that special gal who will enthusiastically play along with your football-coach-cheerleader or Han Solo–Princess Leia fantasies. In Second Life, you have a much better shot of finding somebody willing to indulge such curiosities alongside you. Besides, if the person you ask turns you down, you don't have to face the same interminable awkward silence that you would in the real world.
DON'T: Overdo it. You might think that the gal you just met harbors the same role-playing fantasies that you do. This may not be the case, and nobody enjoys a non-wacky misunderstanding. A quick rule of thumb: What's offensive or out-there in real life is probably offensive or out-there in Second Life.
DO: Spice things up. Plenty of R-rated Second Life boutiques sell balms, toys, and related playthings that can be used for prurient pursuits. We're not sure how you'll derive enjoyment from such items, given your computer's ability to convey tactile sensations. But hey, knock yourself out. Not literally.
DON'T: Just, uh, whip it out. True, there's no Moral Majority or omniscient police presence in Second Life to monitor your behavior and keep you on the straight and narrow. That doesn't give you an excuse, however, to act like anything less than the gentleman that your mom and sisters seem to believe you are, despite all evidence to the contrary. Explore the freedom that Second Life affords, but do so in a way that is both decent and respectful.