Beaux Grayson was on the sundeck of his home, curled up on the couch with a slender brunette, when his wife walked in.
"And went," as Beaux subsequently put it in a message he sent to his Second Life friends, "NUTZ."
She demanded to know who this woman in thigh-high boots on the screen was, laying there with her husband's avatar. So Beaux told her. "I gave her the facts (married, English, kids, etc.), but not the name and that we have known each other about two weeks." He tried to be as open with her as he could; he begged her to join him in Second Life so she could be with him there, especially on those days when he was traveling on business, and going in-world from his hotel room, when there wasn't much else to do. ("I could go out to bars, but found it 'safer' to have my social interaction on-line.")
Whatever explanations he gave her, they apparently weren't enough.
"So," Beaux continues, "last night after we went to bed, she got up and went into SL. The first thing she saw on the entry screen was the last thing I was doing: Cuddling on the couch." This is because whenever you enter Second Life, you see the final image of whatever you were doing, the last time you were in-world. No matter what has transpired, since then. Considering what they'd just been discussing, the picture of Beaux and the brunette on the couch might not have been the best thing for her see again. And though Beaux Grayson's wife had never been in-world before, she "managed to do some stuff that shocked me." He found that out after waking up, and greeting her in the kitchen.
"I said 'good morning'. She said it is not good." She suggested that he log into Second Life.
So Beaux went back in-world, to find that his avatar was now naked and gray and decidedly smaller-- and lying in the private room of a popular Mature-rated nightclub. "I don't know how she figured [out how to do] all that," Grayson says, astounded.
All this came out after I started looking into an online poll posted in the official Second Life discussion forum. Resident-created surveys are a staple of the Forum, sometimes a way to garner instant feedback on particular issues affecting the world; often a way to air personal grievances in the form of an opinion poll. The particular question, "Do you consider having AV Sex Cheating on your Spouse if the Flame has Gone?" was a simple one. The answers that followed, as they often are, were anything but that; they read a little like a society's first attempts to find a universally acceptable concept of infidelity.
And in a society that has grown to the size of a large, tightly-knit town, these questions are liable to be asked more often. Especially when so much of the town seems like a compressed version of South Miami, Amsterdam, and the Burning Man playa at full roar, and temptations are only constrained by the ethics of imagination. If they are at all.