Dec 17 2008

Another Life

Published by at 11:02 am under Blog

Wall Street Journal ChartOkay, here’s an interesting one. Gore Verbinski (he of Pirate o’ da Caribbean fame) is planning to direct a movie about a woman who’s husband had an affair……online. Inspired by an Alexandra Alter article last year in the Wall Street Journal, Verbinski wants to tell the story of a Sue Hoogestraat who wants to leave her husband when she discovers he has another wife, Tenaj, in the online world Second Life.


In Webland, the online couple (named Dutch and Tenaj Hoorenbeek) have two dogs, a mortgage and go shopping together. The husband’s argument is that it is just a game. He has never actually met his online wife and argues that his own wife spends hours watching TV – he spends his time online and sees no difference. Ric Hoogestraat has tried to get Sue involved in his online world but she’s not interested.


He makes a good argument on the surface. Surely it’s just fantasy – he idles away his time online interacting with other avatars, while Sue watches Oprah, Ellen and dog shows on TV. Reading Alter’s article, you realise the scale of the ‘problem’:


Mrs. Hoogestraat pauses on her way to the kitchen and glances at the screen.

“You didn’t eat your breakfast,” she says.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see it there,” he responds.

“They probably won’t taste any good now,” she says, taking the plate.

By 4 p.m., he’s been in Second Life for 10 hours, pausing only to go to the bathroom. His wrists and fingers ache from manipulating the mouse to draw logos for his virtual coffee cups. His back hurts. He feels it’s worth the effort. “If I work a little harder and make it a little nicer, it’s more rewarding,” he says.

Sitting alone in the living room in front of the television, Mrs. Hoogestraat says she worries it will be years before her husband realizes that he’s traded his real life for a pixilated fantasy existence, one that doesn’t include her.


I think it’s fair to say that most people reading this blog have a fairly active online life. We blog, we read, we Facebook, some Twitter, some play games. Over this past year I’ve met so many people online who have become great friends. At what point does it become unhealthy?


For Ric and Sue Hoogestraat (who met online incidentally) there are clearly a lot of issues to work on. But is your online life interfering with your real world? Is your real life getting in the way of all you want to do online? Where is the perfect balance or is there one?


Note: Chart from Alexandra Alter’s Wall Street Journal Article

12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Another Life”

  1. Joon 17 Dec 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Hmm, Darren, maybe we better get a trial separation. But who will get the virtual chinchilla?

  2. Voodooladyon 17 Dec 2008 at 1:10 pm

    I think anything other more than an hour or two a day is plenty for the net. I think those online virtual worlds are pathetic.

  3. Darrenon 17 Dec 2008 at 1:17 pm

    @Jo Please don’t virtually leave me. I’ll do virtually anything for you to stay. I’ll take you out to virtual restaurants. We can go on virtual holidays. I still love you. Virtually!

    @Voodoo They definitely provide an escape for a lot of people who would otherwise have nothing. But yes, spending in excess of 10 hours a day ‘living’ another life is too much.

  4. Anthonyon 17 Dec 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I find the whole thing quite messed up. Never had an interest in Second Life or WOW. The idea of creating characters and then having them interact with each other online just doesn’t do it for me.

  5. Darrenon 17 Dec 2008 at 2:06 pm

    @Anto I did the Second Life thing for a while. Thankfully it didn’t run well on my laptop. I could certainly see the appeal. Instead I got addicted to forums…then blogs…

  6. Claire (Shop-Girl)on 17 Dec 2008 at 4:24 pm

    It’s not the first time this has happened…sure remember yer wan (I can’t remember her name) who divorced her husband because he had an affair on S.L….she caught his avatar doin the do with another avatar (which wasn’t HER avatar obviously)

    So she divorced him. In real life. And on S.L. (which is where they met, I think!)

    She’s doing ok though…she has a new boyfriend…who she met on WoW…

  7. Rickon 17 Dec 2008 at 4:51 pm

    When you take out your laptop during Soundcheck *ahem*


    Seriously? A little of one, a little of the other. I do a lot during the day suring idle moments at the desk, little ever after 5 aside from the occasional mail or Facebook check if I’m on the bus or just before bed.

    For someone who has so many presences online I like real people quite a lot…

  8. Sinéadon 17 Dec 2008 at 7:39 pm

    The media tends to sensationalise stories like this, which gets everyone so worked up and worried, when in actual fact these are isolated cases. And in the end it all comes down to personality, rather than technology.

    The key is self-control. It only becomes unhealthy when you are incapable of that. And there are so many things in our lives that we allow to spin out of control.

    Great post Darren.

  9. Yer Manon 18 Dec 2008 at 12:30 am

    i too am addicted to forums darren.. but just the 1 😉

    i dont see how ya can come addicted to blogs tho.. isnt it really just people’s opinions?? please elaborate if possible 🙂

  10. EMon 18 Dec 2008 at 11:09 am

    I refuse to even look at this site. I am already consuming all my time with my facebook and Boards addictions.

  11. Darrenon 18 Dec 2008 at 2:32 pm

    @Claire And have you started playing WoW yet?

    @Rick Are you suggesting I was computing during your set?

    @Sinéad Cheers! It’s like everything in life. The sensational minority cases are highlighted, while the less newsworthy positives are ignored.

    @YerMan When you read as many blogs as I do on a daily basis…yes, it’s an addiction. 🙂

    @EM Cheers for the comment. You’re dead right – stay away, stay away…

  12. Claire (Shop-Girl)on 18 Dec 2008 at 10:00 pm

    No…I tried that Second Life thingy…that was a non-starter…frickin confusin’ ass piece of crap!! *angry face*

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