This past August 10, using a mind-numbing 2,900 words, Alexandra Alter of The Wall Street Journal recounted the bizarre tale of Ric Hoogestraat, 53, a burly, mustachioed Internet addict whose burly, mustachioed avatar on Second Life spends “14 hours at a stretch on weekends as Dutch Hoorenbeek, his six-foot-nine, muscular, motorcycle-riding cyber-self. The character looks like a younger, physically enhanced version of him: a biker with a long black ponytail, strong jaw and thick handlebar mustache.” Avatar Dutch has fallen in love. The object of his affection: a redheaded avatar named Tenaj (Janet spelled backward) Jackalope controlled by Janet Spielman, 38, a divorced Canadian and mother of two. The two avatars have gotten married and Hoogestraat’s real-life wife, Sue, 58, is, to put it mildly, very upset. “It’s really devastating,” says Sue. “You try to talk to someone or bring them a drink, and they’ll be having sex with a cartoon.”
In This Mad, Mad, Surreal World, Who Are Your Customers and Prospects?
As direct marketers, we know a lot about our customers and prospects. Rocketing around the country from database to database are detailed electronic dossiers on just about everyone who isn’t homeless, paranoid or Mafiosi operating entirely on cash. In these dossiers—databases with seemingly endless appends—are names and addresses, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, demographics, psychographics, buying habits, income, loan exposures, health problems—you name it and chances are the information you want is accessible. At least that is the conventional wisdom.
However “conventional wisdom” has become an oxymoron in today’s world of ox-like morons, whose actual lives bear zero relationship to what the databases claim them to be. Rather they are totally consumed with other people and events—real, imagined or virtual. For example:
• In the online world are sites on which millions of addicts spend 20 to 40 hours a week—or more. Among them: Club Penguin (12 million), World of Warcraft (9 million), Second Life (8.6 million), There.com (1 million) and Entropia Universe (600,000).