Lately, AV+ has been rambling on about the idea of developing synthetic relationships with cartoon characters. Basically, he takes the stance that there are many kinds of love out there, and just because a person loves a virtual character, the feeling of love exists. To quote his stunning conclusion,
Dan apapun bentuknya, cinta yang mereka dapatkan itu nyata.
My translation: In whatever form it may be, the love they receive is real.
Of course, you know that I once covered the role of moe in Japan’s population crisis. Just a quick recap: the moe industry is growing like never before and the amount of people who do not want a “real” relationship are also increasing, leading to worries that not enough people are procreating to balance the aging population.
So, back to the philosophical question: to waifu or not to waifu?
It doesn’t take a genius to know that our lives are steadily progressing (or regressing?) towards a future where we aim to carry out our lives in the digital world. Smartphones have apps that’ll let you communicate face-to-face with a person on the other side of the globe (given your internet connection isn’t blocked by the fucking government for obscure reasons). Basically, your physical presence is close to nothing these days. Can’t come to a meeting? There’s an app for a teleconference!
And we are now trying to emulate love and put it in cyberspace.
Let me first start with an update on the moe situation in Japan. If you’re like me, who hasn’t been updated regularly about the amazing tech the Japanese have, you should know by now that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 and Summer School have Virtual Reality support. This means that with the use of the PS VR system, you can now enjoy boob physics in real life. Also, in other news, Aldebaran has officially started selling Pepper, the world’s first “emotional robot” that can recognize emotions and respond accordingly. Shit, I gotta get me one of those.
All of these technological advances point towards an idea: that one day, we won’t need other people to love us. It’s just us and an avatar displayed on a machine (or even a real machine!) enjoying a candlelight dinner.
First, those who want a virtual girlfriend. Of course, I know the pain of being constantly rejected by women in real life. Either you’re ugly as fuck or they just don’t understand you. I believe every person reaches their breaking point some day, where they become fed up with reality and just want to escape. These depressed people need love, and if they can get it from a machine, then why not? They aren’t harming anybody… well maybe perhaps that CM3D onahole and Air Body, but at least they aren’t out there preying on innocent girls.
Here’s another thing about virtual relationships: we often jump the gun and say they solely exist to fulfill innate sexual desires. But, as delivered by Gaijin Goombah in the following video, the media that we use to express our virtual love is not always sexual in nature. He takes the example of Love Plus, the most popular dating sim today. In Love Plus, don’t expect to have kinky sex with the heroines. The lewdest thing you’ll get is a kiss. Just that, nothing else. No boobs, no squeaking beds, no 50 Shades of Grey, just an innocent kiss. He even goes as far to defend 3D Custom Girl, a game where you can literally treat a virtual girl as an object, as being a game that’s actually not all about kinky sex, but rather as a medium that “really attempts to bring companionship to the lonely” (quoted at mark 3:14).
Since Gaijin Goombah speaks from Japanese perspective, he takes the stance that Japanese men are so pressured to work long hours, they don’t even have time for themselves let alone maintaining a working relationship. They are lonely, put simply. And since society doesn’t help them out, they keep to themselves. But eventually, they’ll reach a breaking point. They need contact with someone or something else. Preferably from someone who loves them. Women are out of the question, because it’s hard enough dealing with their bosses and coworkers, let alone a woman. And there is more pain involved if you struggle to maintain a marriage that doesn’t work. Thus, they turn to virtual relationships because those are easier to maintain.
And let’s face it, virtual contact is better than no contact at all. Maybe without a synthetic relationship, these guys might have tossed themselves out the 30th floor window. It’s completely understandable, given the social conditions.
But what of Indonesia, where the standards are lower? Sadly, there is a defense for synthetic relationships in our country as well. Our internet culture places a large emphasis on having a relationship. Jomblo ngenes, once used as a casual joke, is now a borderline slur to describe someone who is bereft of companionship. Our contemporary culture, fueled by unfunny stand-up comedians and shitty TV soaps that showcase nothing but love affairs, mocks the loner and embraces the lovey-dovey couple. It is a new standard of modern life: have a girlfriend/boyfriend, or you’re just another jomblo ngenes who deserves to be mocked. And so what do these troubled teens do? Buy a DS and play Love Plus or torrent a copy of CM3D because at least in the game, someone (or something) is being nice to them and not making fun of them all the time. Or watch anime and claim a waifu.
But what if you don’t want to waifu? That’s understandable as well.
As animals (we’re animals, face it), we have this basic need for human contact. We are not inherently a solitary species, we need one another to survive. Not machines, but fellow humans. Thus, maintaining a virtual relationship doesn’t hold value and contradicts our biological nature. Besides, we won’t be preserving our species by wasting sperm inside an onahole all the time.
This logic makes the grounds of those who don’t want to waifu. Imagine the crisis that our species would face if we were to ignore our biological urges and choose to devote more time to forging synthetic relationships that only provide the experience of being loved, without it actually happening. Japan is already facing a population decline that’s being partially fueled by the many people who don’t want to marry and have kids.
Also, synthetic relationships are a form of escapism. They only offer short-term relief from the problem in real-life. It’s basically like smoking weed; you get high for a short time, but your life still stays in the same place. You accomplish nothing.
So there you have it, two sides of the argument. Now, where do I stand? I’m a bit in the middle. I agree that every person has the right to do whatever the fuck he wants as long as it doesn’t harm anyone, but as far as synthetic relationships go, I still think of them as short-term relief. They are not how we are supposed to live, unless we evolve or augment ourselves fast enough to embrace this new life.
Now, which side are you on?