I can't help mentioning an intriguing new angle on net-dating. It's not a subject I write about but I saw an article in the New York Times (I'm not real but neither are you) about a service called Cloudgirlfriend.com. The idea is that you create a totally fabricated profile for yourself complete with celebrity photo and wait for other heavily disguised soulmates to make contact. Everyone is lying but what the hell?
Admittedly many profiles on regular dating sites are probably slightly economical with the truth so it's almost refreshing to see a service that admits freely that everything on it should be taken with a sackful of salt. The original idea was that the service could create Facebook accounts for your highly enhanced personality so that you could engage in your fantasy relationship in the midst of your regular FB life. However that fell through since Facebook was less than enthusiastic about being swamped in false profiles. Thank goodness for that.
However the idea of forming fantasy relationships online is not new. Virtual worlds like Second Life are full of avatars that bear little or no relation to their owners and when you meet people there you have no idea who you are really talking to. Many people manage to live their second lives and form relationships based on mutually agreed deception. I spent a lot of time in Second Life a few years ago and created 3 different avatars just to see what it was like to "be" someone else. I realized that I'm no good at role play and even if my alter egos were unlike me my personality shone through anyway. I stopped the deception and used an avatar that looked like me and had a similar name.
For many the opportunity for online roleplay can certainly be very valuable. Whether a real relationship can develop from one based on blatantly false identities is another matter.