News of Note: Japan leads the way in sexless love
Why the generational malaise and indifference to sex? Theories abound. The most provocative to me, a Japanese-American and longtime Tokyo resident, is that Japanese women have become stronger socially and economically at the very same time that Japanese men have become more fully absorbed in virtual worlds, satiated by the very technological wizardry their forebears foisted upon them, even preferring them to reality. “I don’t like real women,” one bloke superciliously sniffed on Japan’s 2channel, the world’s largest and most active internet bulletin board site, “They’re too picky nowadays. I’d much rather have a virtual girlfriend.”
Virtual girlfriends became a sensation last summer, when Japanese game-maker Konami released its second-generation of its popular Love Plus, called, aptly, Love Plus +, for the Nintendo DS gaming system. Konami skillfully arranged for an otherwise deadbeat beach resort town called Atami to host a Love Plus + holiday weekend. Players were invited to tote their virtual girlfriends, via the gaming console, to the actual resort town to cavort for a weekend in romantic bliss. The promotion was absurdly successful, with local resort operators reporting that it was their best weekend in decades.
A virtual relationship (including cybersex) with a computer program may sound quite different from a long distance one with another human being, but in the future you might not be able to tell the difference. Text based intimacy is quite prevalent in MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), and we already have computers that can mimic it well, just look at Cleverbot, the most advanced chat bot that has hosted over 65 million conversations since 1997.
The lack of physical contact may be the greatest criticism against virtual relationships, but that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. The depths that people can reach through their minds both emotionally and physically are profound, even without physical touch. As technology continues to enable people to find the fulfillment they seek in easier ways, why not?
CC Image source: Jmho