LIFE 2.0 – Sundance Documentary Review
LIFE 2.0, the first feature documentary of director Jason Spingarn-Koff, plunges into the lives of individuals who are heavy users of Second Life, a virtual online world where users can create avatars, alternate personas that they use to interact in Second Life.
In Life 2.0, we are introduced to several characters who each have their own reasons for loving Second Life or SL as they call it. One couple uses SL to make a connection even though they are each in committed relationships in the real world or First Life as SL users call it. One adult male user even creates an avatar of a 12 year old girl to interact in SL. One woman actually makes a living in SL by creating virtual goods and selling them. Jason Spingarn-Koff does an excellent job at honestly portraying the true motivations behind what each of these individuals are trying to achieve through SL. The stories really delve into each of these characters’ lives and we feel like we do truly know them. Plus you get the sense that the director has no agenda and that he is just trying to expose the reality behind this virtual world.
Now, it is easy to feel smug while you are watching adults obsess about what could be considered at best a childish fantasy. It is very easy to say to yourself: “What is wrong with these people? Can’t they just go out and live a real life instead of fabricating one?” I admit that I started out thinking like that at the beginning of Life 2.0.
However, towards the middle of Life 2.0, I realized that they weren’t the problem; I was. If you stop and think, who are we to say what is real and what is not to other people? Just because I don’t think that living in a fictional house and wearing fictional clothes is not real, that does not mean that others must feel the exact same way I do. If it takes a virtual world to make them happy, so let them be happy. Why should I care if their happiness comes from living in a real or virtual world.
Ultimately, Life 2.0 taught me more about myself than it did about the world of Second Life. It made me realize in a very explicit way that happiness comes in all shapes and sizes, even if those shapes and sizes are virtual ones. I recommend you go see this documentary if it comes out in a theater near you; it might teach you something about yourself.
In the meantime, check out the teaser trailer for LIFE 2.0 below.