Life 2.0 is a documentary released in 2010, it follows three different relationships between real people and their second life avatars. Each of their simulated relationships results in a real world moral dilemma.
The masked programmer who begins the film in shadow has the most psychologically complex plot-line that reveals the psychological complexities of Second Life on how it can be used as a psychoanalytic tool, and how it can effect real-world bonds.
On the surface, it just seems like your rudimentary addiction problem, but digging deeper there’s more to that. One interesting thing to note is the way he refers to his avatar, in contrast to himself. Beyond simply talking through a 3rd person viewpoint, his avatar seems to be thinking on her own, and making decisions that seems to conflict with its controller; at times even conveying messages through him to the viewer.
In the documentary, he talks about his avatar having an ‘increasingly dangerous state of mind’. So much so that it instigates her into going on a rampage, killing many other residents of Second Life, at places where other users seem to be enjoying themselves such as the beach or at dance clubs.
The controller’s excuse for this clear act of terrorism is that his avatar knew that he was spending too much time on Second Life, and went through with the rampage hoping that he would have his account suspended, thus preventing him from having his life taken over by the program. He seems to have, in his mind, completely suppressed the fact that he himself controls the avatar.
There seems to be quite a lapse or a fragmentation if you will, in personal identity (dissociative identity) . Where the online avatar is seen by the controller as a separate entity from himself. And even at times is seen to be controlling him.
Who will control the controllers?
The web has made these issues more prevalent, be it through dissociative identities, cognitive dissonance, fragmentation and the like. With online environments such as MMOs, online role-playing games, virtual communities, and even forum groups, it becomes very easy to become someone else- be it an alter-ego or persona. To what extent will it start to become detrimental to oneself. And to where do we draw the line of keeping our personal identity.