“Life 2.o” is a documentary look at people whose lives have been taken over by Second Life. Second Life is a free website that offers you the ability to create your own avatars, build posh homes, engage in friendships and romances, and set up actual businesses wherefrom you can earn actual money.
The main thing that seems to happen, according to the documentary, is that people get completely hooked, and spend every chance they get in this cyber world.
Stories like this bring to mind some pasty-skinned overweight person living in their parents’s basement. I’m pasty-skinned and overweight, but my parents don’t have a basement, and I don’t live with them anyway, so I’m not allowed to play.
Okay, I jest. Some of these people live in Second Life to escape from the drudgeries of their real lives. It’s no more an obsession than SportsCenter or The Weather Channel, just something to do between dinner and bedtime. Most Second Life patrons are probably like that (Please, God, please let that be so).
However, that wouldn’t make for an interesting movie. The film follows one couple. He lived in Calgary; she in upper New York. Both of their marriages were breaking up over the Second Life “affair,” and I use the term loosely. To me, an affair doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact–or “sex,” if you’re on SL 24/7–but there has to be some real connection somewhere. It’s hard for me to buy that when you can walk around in a 3D utopian world, with a body you built to match your avatar’s personality.
Pardon the vulgarity of this next sentence, but I think it’s a good example of Internet hook-up veracity. A friend once said–actually, I think it may have been me, come to that–that no man on the Internet has a 3″ penis. On the Internet, it’s so easy to lie. And why not? Odds are you’ll never meet the person you’re talking to. If you do, it’s unlikely she’s going to break out a ruler to measure your love wand. You might not get a second date, but it doesn’t matter anymore.
One thirty-ish man had an avatar who was a teenaged girl. The point is, you never know who’s packing what in their crazy satchel.
The couple who met and fell in love on SL (everyone in the movie abbreviated Second Life as SL, thus I’ll do the same) had a wonderful life together…for his first real-life weekend visit. Once they tried him moving-in for realsies with his former avatar mate and her very real teenaged daughter, the bloom was off the rose, or however that goes. He turned out to be a complete jackass, yelling at her about how to plant plants, complaining that her ex-husband still had boxes in the basement. Seriously, this guy was 100% assmunch. In a perfect world, both he and his avatar would have been sent to God’s spam file somewhere.
One lady had built up a thriving business on SL. She sold big-ticket homes, clothing, jewelry, you name it, and she made enough Real Life money to afford to…well, to be chubby and sit in her parents’s basement working on the computer all day and night. She met up with an SL friend, and they had a ball. They’d Skyped before, and they were just looking to get hammered and play slots. They did both, and God bless ’em, their trip was a success.
I’m sort of torn on this type of arrangement. Most of the people I know are on Facebook–friends, coworkers, relatives, etc. However the FB people with whom I chat most are people I’ve never met in real life. We don’t talk about meeting some day and riding off into tangerine colored sunsets, but there is a very real friendship there. I have friends in Maryland, California, both Washingtons, and Montana for whom I’d take a bullet. Most of them, I’ve never heard their voice, nor they mine. (Sometimes, just for grins, I send them an e-mail with five commercials I produced back when I was in radio, just so they can hear my voice, but I try never to talk on the phone)
I think the difference is that most people don’t use FB to hook up. You’re not building castles and islands (unless you play a game), nor do you see moving, talking avatars.
Shockingly, the love affair referenced above ended badly. “He was a fake,” she said. Well, no fucking shit, lady. You fell in love with a 3D animated avatar! You flew with him over waterfalls, and neither of you ever sweated or farted. Of COURSE he was fake. Know who else is? Super Mario. The frogs in Frogger don’t really die, either. He’s fake? Maybe, but you’re an idiot for having him move in so soon. Oh, and did you know your picture is next to the word “gullible” in the dictionary? Look it up.
This reminded me of a really dark, disturbing movie I saw earlier this year, called @SuicideRoom. It was the same basic principle, but all the kids in this room were suicidal. There avatars were very dark and emo, very nihilistic. These kids were the severely depressed, the molested, the cutters, the druggies. Everyone in that room was in nine types of pain. That movie blew my mind. Watch it, if you can take it. It’s well worth it. (I also proudly note that when I Googled @Suicide Room movie, the books and movies and crap link was on the first page. Bonus)
The most sobering thought I had was this: I’ve been pretty quick to point out the flaws of the SL’ers, those who live their lives in another world. What does it say that MY life involves me watching a documentary about them doing this SL thing? It’s like I’m an extra degree of life-lacking.
Time for my parents to build a basement.