LIFE 2.0

LIFE 2.0 is a documentary that shows computer users across the globe who log onto the virtual world of Second Life. But some users’ lives are dramatically consumed by this alternate reality. The film follows the virtual lives of a few dedicated players, tracking their engagement and sometimes addiction with the online 3D virtual reality world. One woman sells enormous and immaculate virtual homes for real money in second life, while living in squalor in her parents’ basement, working in her pajamas twenty hours a day. Another couple, who turn out to look surprisingly similar to their attractive avatars, fall in love on Second Life and their relationship spills into first life with unexpected consequences. Another boy plays out a female fantasy. The film-maker’s access to these Second Lifers’ experiences is astonishing. It’s amazing how close the director got to his subjects, and you can’t believe some of the moments he’s managed to catch on film. It is an interesting look at the psychology behind the types of people who find themselves addicted to virtual reality games, such as this one called “Second Life”.

Second Life is an environment which seeks to mirror real life, and is not so much a fantasy as a reflection of its namesake. One can buy clothes, cars, and avatars which represent their owners. Your avatar doesn’t have super powers (but you can sometimes fly). There are newspapers and tabloids, business people and celebrities, stars, designers, and homes. One can play Second Life professionally to earn money, but most people play for fun. And, just as in real life, complications arise. Nothing is perfect. “Life 2.0″ is as compelling, honest, and as bittersweet as its nonfiction counterpart. People create “Avatars” and clothe and house them and walk them around the Earth-like world, socializing with others. It seems like people create an idealized version of themselves. There are no fat people in this second world, yet hiding behind each character seems to be a fat, unhealthy, unattractive person. They make themselves anorexically skinny and over-the-top sexy. It’s sad that they have to create a fake person to have the fun for them instead of working on their own social connections in real life. Even if not fat, some seem to have mental issues (a mom who ditched her husband for her online boyfriend, ugh) or deep-seated trauma in their childhood (a guy who created child avatars to “find himself” and wound up spending all day and night playing).

It’s mainly a place for escapism from your real life problems. But the fantasy world could collide with real life. I can probably understand normal people who play this just for fun now and then, but the ones who are addicted seem to have issues they need to address. This is a somewhat sad movie about people who try to live through their computers — but lose track of what’s real. Physical health is neglected, marriages are destroyed. Kids may have nowhere to turn when their parents go mad this way, except to their own virtual worlds. And so on. It doesn’t go particularly well for any of them. The first story shows two people abandoning their families for someone they met in this video game, then being mortified and pissed that their new relationship doesn’t work in real life. Surprised it didn’t work? Come on. Then the chick has the nerve to play the “I was a victim” card when everything didn’t happen in real life like it did in this virtual world? Wow! This is Loser Life 2.0. Addicts? OMG!  Good grief, these folks have some serious emotional issues they need to face and deal with. If someone is more comfortable in a fantasy world of their own design than they are in their “real life”, it may be time for professional help. That is what the documentary is mainly about — people and their real life problems and how they use the game for escapism.

This documentary seems very enticing, because now I don’t have to go to therapy. I can just become a completely new person — young, gorgeous, successful, no more Weight Watchers or AA. Hell, I can just sit in my apartment, get fat as a hog, drink myself to death, become more neurotic and delusional and isolated and for that matter, change my gender and have promiscuous sex while posing as a spiritual leader. What’s not to like? I’m in!

You may not understand much of this unless you play Second Life. There are many positive aspects to this alternate world. I met some wonderful, unforgettable men and women in SL, from Australia to Canada and the U.S. that I never would have known otherwise. I fell deeply in love and I was loved deeply in return just as I had in real life. The limitations of real life are not obstacles in SL Everything moves faster there, like time, relationship growth, and love. The pleasure, happiness, excitement, and emotional pain you feel in SL are as real and as deep as in real life. If someone is not happy in real life, they can find their heart’s desire in SL, as I did. You choose a “Basic” avatar to start, but you can customize it to your exact liking. Then you’re ready to begin exploring. Just as RL (real life) is not “all about sex”, neither is SL. But we are all sexual beings and so sex is in SL too, if you wish. But there is sooooo much more — creativity, making real money, teaching any subject you know, exploring beautiful and new places created by other players, live concerts by famous RL groups and musicians or entertaining crowds of real people yourself. Many people in SL are happy to help you learn. But there is one warning: There are many men who pretend to women and vice versa. Before investing sensitive feelings, be sure you know which gender you are dealing with. It’s all been done, believe me! So think with your head and not your heart, until you’re positive. And have a wonderful Second Life. I did. =)

The graphics in SL (second life) are now far, far superior to what you see in this early version, in which characters aren’t very realistic and look a little creepy. SL continually becomes more advanced than what was shown in this film. I hadn’t heard of Second Life before this documentary. This film is interesting because it explains what Second Life is all about. I definitely had no clue that someone could make money off of Second Life. Finally, the film manages not just to tell these amazing and sometimes troubling stories, but many of the scenes function as a metaphor for our contemporary world’s layers of reality, encouraging us to contemplate “what is real.” This is so surreal. I do not even know what to make of it. It is a definite must-see. This is an astonishingly meaningful and entertaining look at the subculture of Second Life. All I can say is Wow! I was fascinated by their stories, but watched in utter disbelief the emotional destruction these folks brought upon themselves. It is like passing a bad auto wreck and not being able to look away. Fascinating. Documentary 2010 NR 1hr39m.

I watched this show and thought to myself, “Some people are sad and lonely, but no one can be this bad off.” I was wrong. Google “Second Life Trolling” and watch the YouTube videos. Side-crushingly hilarious and sad at the same time.

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