Google attempts to save marriages around the world
Google is shutting down its Second Life rival site, Lively. Will this have a positive effect on the institution of marriage?
Sometimes even the best product creators have to accept that their inventions may have negative effects far beyond their entertainment value.
So, perhaps, deeply evangelical and conservative supporters everywhere will be raising hallelujahs aloft at the news that Google is closing down Lively, its virtual world experience.
Naturally the company has offered the usual public speaking about concentrating on other businesses and accepting that not every bet will work out.
However, there may be a deeper and more moral core to this decision.
Surely no one has been left unmoved by the Second Life divorce scandal.
Here we had a wife of solid virtue discovering that her husband had entered into a seamy and torrid virtual affair on Second Life (or should that be IN Second Life?).
This was a fantasy entanglement between Modesty McDonnell, who looked as if sleaze was a cloud she could not ascend to in a helicopter and Dave Barmy, a man of strange physical proportions and hair that would not have looked out of place on the head of a Brussels drag queen.
Yes, these were mere avatars, but the distress their relationship appears to have caused Dave's First Life wife, Amy Taylor, led to First Life strife and divorce.
(It also led to Dave and Modesty, whose First Life names are Linda Brinkley and David Pollard to become engaged without ever having met. But who could claim this is the Real Thing?)
The timing of Google's announcement to close Lively is, therefore, suspiciously adjacent to news of Dave and Modesty's immodest cataclysm.
And it seems to me that Google has decided that the world (the First World, that is) has changed. The company seems to be suggesting that becoming someone entirely different in a Second World is a socially divisive minefield.
A Lively World, it appears, can be deadly to our fundamental social structures. It will be interesting to see whether divorce rates decline in the aftermath of this brave and good-hearted closure.