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Second Life and Online Identities


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In information age, every part of life is changing dramatically. Second Life is a simulation where every user participates to a virtual world with their alternate personas in the form of avatars. It extends the physical life and adds a new layer.

Life 2.0 is a documentary about this issue. It tells the story of different people who have one thing in common: Second Life. The documentary explains how the family lives, jobs and social relationships can hugely change after starting this simulation. People can quit their wives or husbands, or even their children and start a new life with someone they met from there. Or, people can create virtual cars, houses and accessories and sell them in the virtual market of Second Life. Even Greenpeace can organize protests. So, here is a trailer:

My only criticism about this documentary is that it has only focused on individual’s lives. So, I found it relatively limited, there were little connection related to life itself. However, Second Life has also influences on the mechanisms of physical world. For instance, Adidas can invest 75,000 dollar for a virtual terrain (in a popular street) or Linden (creator of Second Life) may choose to decrease the size of terrain so that the value of every piece increases. Thus, as the title of simulation suggests, Second Life offers an alternative universe parallel to real life. However, it takes on a crucial role for defining reality and what is ‘real’.

In his ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ book, Baudrillard tells us that the world we live in is now hyperreal. All the images that surround us, including Second Life, suspend the reality. That sort of simulations  transform the reality as if it is something we can’t change or criticize. Unfortunately, there weren’t any comment on this fact in the documentary.

Moreover, it is possible to see many examples that tries to use this feature for their marketing. Eve Online and Mortal Kombat are two games that show how players immerse themselves into virtual worlds and their avatars, forcing people to think that how excitable it might become to be a part of this alternative reality and it leaves no place for thinking on the current, actual system that we are all members. Here are the links for them:

Eve Online:

Mortal Kombat:

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