“He’s fake. And I’m real. And I’m hurt and he gets away scot-free. I want to get across that I’m a victim. And that doesn’t mean I’m stupid, I believe he was really the person he presented himself to be but this is a silly notion on my part because… he’s not real.” – Amie Goode
In Life 2.0, there are several characters who plays Second Life in order to achieve some sense of satisfaction. Among them is Amie Goode, a housewife who feels emotionally unfulfilled despite claiming that she has a good life. She joined the Second Life and met fell for anther avatar Bluntly, in the virtual world, an encounter they called ’emotional adultery’.
In my opinion, not only does Amie Goode wants emotional fulfilment, she also has a strong desire for someone to love her for who she is. As a result, she presented herself raw in Second Life, baring herself almost entirely to Bluntly on Second Life.
An astonishing yet terrifying example is the house in Second Life, which she have rendered according to her house in real life: She invited Bluntly over and shows him around the house, making Bluntly feels as if he had a Deja Vu.
To me, Amie doesn’t use her avatar as a new identity or as a mean to escape from her real life. Instead, she hopes to use the avatar to enhance her real life. She hopes to finds fulfillment within Second Life using an avatar, to connect with people whom she cannot come into contact with in her real life. I think this is the beauty of third space in Second Life: It allows people from different parts of the worlds to connect. Interestingly, this point is also mentioned by her daughter as an example while she plays a different online game.
When Amie thinks she finally does find someone who can provide her with emotional fulfillment, she is eager to then merge that with her real life. As a result, she is elated to show Bluntly to her daughter. She is even more excited when Bluntly finally moves in with her in real life. They both decide to quit Second Life and strives to make a life of their own in the real world.
“The real world with him, how great is that, too, to be able to say that I’m in the real world with him”
However, the transition from Second Life to real life seems to be very difficult for the both of them. Amie blames it on the fact that Bluntly is not the person whom he portrays himself to be. Amie she portrays herself as a victim who chose to believe entirely in the avatar that somebody have created. Friction also occurred between the two as they tried to live together
Personally, I am able to relate to her somewhat with my own experience in entering the virtual gaming world when I was a teenager. However I feel that creating an avatar alone creates a fake identity: People manipulate avatars differently and assume different identities in order to satisfy themselves emotionally. One cannot simply say their avatar is truly them in real life.
It just so happened that Amie chooses to merge her identity with her avatar, and finds herself a victim when she realizes that the person she fell in love with did not choose to do the same. She feels betrayed, yet she acknowledged that she is naive for believing in someone’s avatar entirely, just only because she is completely truthful with hers.
The loss of control in the real world also contributes to the failure of the relationship. Second Life draws in people because it is a life that people are able to control in the third space. They can change their looks; interact with people they want; build a house readily; start a career readily etc. They are able to do all these while they are cut off from hassles in the real life. For Amie and Bluntly, the transition to real life comes with a price: Separation procedures, Amie’s daughter’s dislike for Bluntly and their own tension with their spouse. As much as Amie wants to merge her Second Life with her real life, it proves almost impossible now with the inclusion of things that she can no longer control.
This documentary makes me think about the emotions over the internet. While people developed feelings on the internet, it is something that does not materialize in the real world easily. I think it is important to factor in the fact that our online personas may conceal or alter certain details. Because of this, avatars can allow a person to express himself in more than 1 way. People uses avatars differently, while I think it is fine to present your true self in an avatar, a person should not assume or believe entirely in a person just based on his online persona. Yet it is interesting to note how the nature of a relationship changed drastically over in the third space.