Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My Take on Catfish's Call for Second Life Participants

The Reveal

The Second Life community collectively cringes when media covers the collision between virtual world relationships and physical world reality. So I was surprised that Linden Lab advertised a request by MTV's Catfish, a series that, "brings together couples that have online relationships to meet offline for the first time, often with surprising results as the differences between online personas and offline lives are revealed." It seemed to me that encouraging media attention on that particular aspect of Second Life was a really bad idea.

Since I was home sick yesterday and needing some mindless distraction, I decided to wade through the first season. I expected it to be an exploitive Jerry Springerish freak show. What I found was a thoughtful series with a well-intentioned host who helps mediate positive resolution for both parties. The show takes situations that conform outwardly to the sensationalized stories we hate and respectfully reveals the underlying humanity.

The common thread in every episode is that someone feels they have to project a false image of themselves to initiate a relationship. As authentic human connection deepens over months or years, they become trapped by the initial lie, fearing that disclosure might end what has evolved into an important friendship. They agree to reveal their identity as a latch ditch attempt to salvage the relationship, or at least get closure. Although there was only one fairy tale ending, most participants used the show to move forward with their lives. None of them planned to try another online relationship.

No comments: