I know this is old news, but I wanted to mention that I recently watched two documentary films about Second Life – Life 2.0 and When Strangers Click. Actually, the latter is not exclusively about SL but it does feature one story that has to do with it. Both of these films were aired on television in 2011, however I don’t watch a lot of tv so I missed them both. It was a pleasant surprise to find them both available to rent on iTunes when I was browsing through movies last weekend.
Life 2.0 – I have mixed feelings about this one. It was certainly compelling to watch, and held my interest. I wanted to see what happened with the characters, however as I was watching, I kind of felt like how I would feel viewing a David Cronenberg movie or something. As in, “I can’t stop watching this because it is so fucked up!”. Even though I know these are real people and real stories, I actually felt really far away from the content, and it was difficult to relate to. I’ve been around SL for three years and I’ve heard all the stories first hand, and honestly there is very little that shocks me anymore.
There were some positive moments when one of the characters met her SL friend for the first time in Las Vegas, face to face. Another interesting moment was when one of the male characters whose avatar was an 11 year old girl, revealed his reasons for creating the girl avatar.
The film definitely got me to thinking, however if I had viewed it with no knowledge of Second Life, I would certainly walk away thinking that the virtual world was a strange and dangerous place.
In contrast to that, I watched When Strangers Click the other night. I tried to embed the trailer for this one here but it’s “not available for viewing in your country”, so instead here’s a recording of a TreetTV interview with Bara Jonson and Robert Kenner, the director of the documentary. It’s almost 40 minutes long, so you will need some time to watch this one.
This film was very different from Life 2.0. This one wasn’t exclusively about Second Life, but focused on people who met their partners/spouses online in chat rooms or dating sites, all with positive outcomes. It featured five stories , one of them was the story of the person behind the SL avatar Bara Jonson. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, so I will just say that I watched this film with a smile on my face for almost the whole time. The stories were presented in such a way that it was easy to relate to – I didn’t meet my husband online but I have met people online in other forums in the past who I am still friends with today.
I found that When Strangers Click captured the unique essence of Second Life, in that it is a place to have fun and express yourself in whichever way you choose. SL indeed does have a positive influence on many people in their lives. I can attest to that.
Although I have different thoughts on both these films, viewing them both reaffirmed for me all the reasons I love virtual worlds and why it will probably always be a part of my normal, everyday life in one way or another.