First came the Tamagotchi. Then the Giga Pet. Realistically, these weren’t bad products. Kids that couldn’t have real pets could have fake ones no one had to clean up after, and they would learn a little bit about the demands of pet care in the process.
Then gaming moved on from a relationship with a fake pet to a relationship with a fake sweetheart. Date simulator games started popping up everywhere. Some sweet and innocent enough, others borderline porn. LovePlus+ from Japan gave guys the option to have a giga-pet-girlfriend to cart around in their Nintendo DS. The strange thing? Some people decided these were better than having real relationships.
But really, who could blame them? Relationships in real life are hard. A digital sweetheart takes far less sweat and sacrifice than a real one. But virtual relationships don’t have what we’re looking for in our real relationships.
Virtual affection is not real affection
Everyone wants someone to know them and love them for who they are. They want genuine acceptance and affection. Your virtual crush may say all the right things, but that’s because they’re programmed that way. Their compliments are lines of code. There are real people who love you for who you are, and they aren’t forced to act that way.
Virtual intimacy is not real intimacy
The ability to be really raw with someone is a beautiful thing – a virtual relationship can’t reciprocate raw emotion. In a real relationship, you laugh, cry, fight, and move forward together, making the bonds between you all the stronger for doing so. A virtual relationship is weak. It has no foundation and can’t form bonds at all.
Virtual relationships are not real relationships
Real relationships teach you to be selfless, they cultivate maturity, and they give you support and encouragement in hard times. Virtual relationships don’t do any of that. Their programming is catered to entertain you, not make you a better person or give you basic human needs. They’re targeted to take up your time and money, not improve the quality of life. Real relationships improve the quality of life. Real relationships give you the basic human needs of community and intimacy.
Relationships in real life are valuable, because for better or worse, they’re real. It’s easier to attach to virtual relationships, whether it’s a DS game, an online relationship, or pornography, because they’re relationships that require less work and little sacrifice. We may think a virtual relationship has a quicker return, but they will always leave us empty.
God created us for human interaction. Despite how broken relationships are in this world, they are still greater than anything we could program. Virtual relationships are only a cheap imitation; what we want is the real thing.