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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Life 2.0...My Thoughts On This Film

Filmmaker Jason Spingarn-Koff spent hundreds of hours in Second Life meeting people via his cameraman avatar Jay Spire. The result is this fascinating documentary released in 2010, a feature selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. This film should be required viewing for anyone who spends time in virtual worlds. It follows the lives of 4 people and powerfully documents how their real lives are transformed by their participation on Second Life. All 4 people eventually experience, in some form, real world unhappiness. I found myself taking notes as I watched the film. I chose Steve and Amy to be the focus of my blog as I've witnessed so many couples such as this one on the internet. 

Steve is a married ( 20 years ) forty-something male from the province of Alberta in Canada, Amy a married ( 11 years) thirty-something female from Westchester, New York. We are introduced to the couple prior to their first real life meeting. They are already " in love," Steve assures us that it is not sexual but calls their affair " emotional adultery." They both admit that their spouses, while aware that they are on Second Life, are clueless as to the depth of their relationship. 

Next we are witness to their first meeting at the airport. They hug, kiss, their actions remind me of lovers who are reuniting after an extended time apart. In voice over, Steve says that he is glad that Amy is who she portrayed herself to be ( translation...Amy is a hottie!). They walk to Amy's van, Steve is pressing against her and repeatedly they kiss. " First stop, Motel Six" I thought to myself as I jotted down notes. 

The following scene, dealing with this couple, opens with the shot of a quaint little motel as I break into a knowing smile. The camera takes us inside where Steve and Amy are seated on the bed together, although fully dressed for the camera, they've obviously consummated the relationship. Their relationship now "complete," they're smiling like a couple of teens, all giddy with joy. 

Steve returns to Canada, we see their avis in a virtual scene together and hear their REAL voices as they talk to one another. Suddenly we hear sounds from Amy's den and see her avatar click out of the room. When her avi returns to the room, she says that her husband Jimmy walked in and surprised her. 

By their second meeting at Amy's house in New York, they have each separated from their spouses and are divorcing. We are introduced to Amy's young daughter ( by the way, Steve refers to her several times as Amy's daughter, never once calling her by name). One can cut this child's sadness with a knife, the collateral damage of the affair brought painfully before our eyes. The couple is all in and Steve will be moving from Canada to live with Amy in New York. 

The couple are now living together in New York. Jimmy has yet to remove all of his belongings from the home. Steve suggests throwing Jimmy's stuff out with the trash, Amy argues that it should be kept until Jimmy can retrieve it. Later we see the couple working together in the garden. There is tension between them, a task as simple as gardening leads to an argument. Soon Steve returns to Canada as he could not find work in New York ( he says due to his alien status ) Amy remains in her home. We see the couple lying in their beds, talking to each other on Skype. Amy is still extremely smitten, Steve shows signs of being over it. He tells her that he is too tired to talk but wants to go to sleep with the sound of her breathing in his ear. 

In the next scene, Steve is talking via cam to Jason Spingarn-Koff. He assures him that Amy and he are committed to working it out but there are issues that must be worked through. We're then switched to a devastated Amy, sitting in her house in New York, tearfully bemoaning the death of the relationship. She proclaims that she was " real" and Steve was "fake." She says that Steve is "free" and has moved to India and her voice trails off. Amy has been left alone to pick up the pieces. 

The filmmaker was granted tremendous access to this couple. It is ironic that when I was doing research for this blog, one of the reasons I found that Amy gives beforehand for her participation in this film is that if it goes badly, it could serve as a cautionary tale for other couples. 

Sunshine, blue skies, and everyone gets a puppy. All of the good and none of the bad. Over the years,these are the two sentences that I've most used when discussing the reality of virtual romance. The people at the keyboard are real, the feelings are real, but the couples are not facing real life issues together. No bills to pay, no children to raise together, no bad breath in the morning. Online love is the perpetual summer romance. 

In her final scene, through tears Amy says " I'm not stupid" and she isn't. But hopefully by now she realizes that she fell in love with the virtual Steve and not the real Steve. The perfect Steve, largely a creation of her mind. Like many before her, Amy projected the qualities and traits that she desired upon Steve. Though there are success stories, there are many more failures when it comes to long distance relationships. In my humble opinion,staying local is a much better option. But if one is to pursue a LTR, one may want to wrap some Teflon around one's heart. Peace to all...John : )

Chasing Windmills

Quixotic- foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals : marked by rash lofty romantic ideas........ 

Quixotic is a term derived from the name of the title character in Miguel de'Cervantes' book Don Quixote de la Mancha. The term had rested dormant in my mind until recently when I stumbled upon it while viewing a friend's profile on a website. I don't think that there is a better term that more aptly applies to victims of romantic scams and cyber love. I think I can safely say that many of us know of people or have been ourselves a member of one or both groups. 

Group One: 

You're 40-70 years old, you've no job, you're living with a relative, and " Big Yank" is stitched across your preferred brand of apparel. An onliner with supermodel looks approaches you stating that he/she is looking for true love and your profile has caught his/her attention. And why not, you're a helluva catch, eh? You're beating them away from the front door with a stick, correct? Your phone is ringing so much that you can no longer return all the calls, right? Of course the answer to all 3 questions is a resounding NO!! Yet you believe it and because your future groom/bride needs money for some financial emergency, you send him/her your debit card number!! CHA-CHING!!! Sadly, many people fall prey to this kind of scam. I know they do because of the number of times I'm approached by scammers online. There is only ONE reason that they do it.....IT WORKS!!! 

Group Two: 

You're in a long term relationship. The demands of raising 4 kids, the pressure of working a job, and living within a household budget are combining to take a toll upon you. When you look across the room at your partner, the " god I love you" that you once heard in your head has been replaced by " what the hell was I thinking?" Your life mate has become a life sentence, your soul mate a cell mate. So here you are at an internet website, where you find " the one." The ying to your yang, the peas to your carrots. Does it really matter that this person has been divorced 4 times, has a substance abuse problem, and the two longest, successful relationships said individual has had were with a bail bondsman and a parole officer? 

Yet we delude ourselves online, we often see a poor option at best or the fatally flawed choice at worst as perfect. Especially when we are new to the internet experience, before we gain online savvy. A popular online dating site proclaims that 1 in 5 relationships now begin at an internet dating site. I believe that and I also think that these numbers will increase as we move into the future. The key element is that the overwhelming majority who join internet dating sites our matched with LOCAL people! Staying within one's area allows one to date and get to know another. In my opinion, staying local gives one a chance to be more successful. 

We've all heard a story of a successful, long distance internet relationship. Some of us may have knowledge of several happy couples who were able to overcome the distance obstacle. While these stories give hope to every romantic who is involved in such a relationship and every person who has worn out 4 DVDs of Sleepless In Seattle, the reality is that 100s more fail. The summer romance element of these affairs often prevents couples from having the ability to come to grips with the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Very few if any aspects of the romance are based in reality. In fact, many fail to consider the "big obvious." Eventually one or both parties must move. That's why it is almost always best to pursue local, real time options. Otherwise, I believe many of us are just chasing windmills...Peace to all...John : ) 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Giving It Away

"Give it away, give it away, give it away." I could hear The Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Give It Away" playing in my head as my brother, Steven, was chastising me over the phone. Steve has been writing Sherlock Holmes books, zombie themed stories, and his own Frank Randall mystery series, and selling his work on Amazon.com since March of 2013. He quit his job and is now a full time writer. He pointed out that by blogging on free sites, I was not placing any value on my work. I was also fully aware that many people started their days with a cup of coffee and my blog, which at times can be sugary and at other times very strong. I have been posting on this site infrequently although I've built quite the following on a couple of free sites. I've been considering " going pro" for quite some time, especially since a few folks that I introduced to blogging have made a nice supplimental income by writing. So in the words of the great Jackie Gleason..." and away we go!"

Today, 03/08/14, I officially go pro. It'll mean more work behind the scenes but my writing will remain the same. I'll strive to be informative, failing that, be funny! Please click on the Google ads as that is how we bloggers are paid. Please consider my house as your house and visit often, even when my blog may be untidy : ) Peace to all...John : )

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Visible Suspect

The second book in the Frank Randall Mystery series authored by my brother, Steven, dropped onto Amazon.com today. The book can be found here http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BQLSHH0/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_KdIorb0RP2S0T....and you can give your feedback directly to the author here https://www.facebook.com/steven.ehrman.5...thank you.....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Facebook Generation- Dirty Laundry

"Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry"....Lyrics from Dirty Laundry performed by Don Henley.. 

I'm really glad Facebook was not around when I was in high school. My mom would have never posted a negative status about me for the whole world to see. But suppose we had had Facebook back then and she had posted " my son John is a lazy pothead and even though he scored 3rd out of 365 students on his 10th grade standardized tests, he isn't currently ranked in the top 40% of his class,"I would have been devastated! Yet I see it daily on Facebook. Folks airing their dirty laundry for the world to see.

There are no Mr Peabodys, no Shermans, and no Wayback Machines online.   Once we post something, it's out there. Like a shot gun blast, the words not only hurt the person for which they are targeted, but other family members who love both the writer and the subject as well.

So here is my suggestion. Keep it "in house." If you've a beef with a family member or friend, speak directly to that individual.  This is not the venue for airing dirty laundry. Peace to all...John : )

Monday, September 27, 2010

People Who Care

They make such a difference in our lives...peace to all...John :-)

I was a little down
I was feeling despair
I was wearing a frown
seemed like nobody cared

my daughters weren't calling
my friends did not write
seems that all had forgot me
there was no hope in sight

I was lost and alone
I felt so out a place
when a trip to my mailbox
put a smile on my face!

was a letter awaiting
from Columbia Gas
just a friendly reminder
my bill's due date had passed!

and a letter from Cap One
sent from a place afar
I'm 3 payments behind
they'll be taking my car

Universal Water
the source of my showers
demanded a payment
within twenty four hours

Now I'm feeling much better
I was so wrong, you see
there are lotsa fine people
who care much about me!

yes what they say is true
feeling lonely and ill?
think that nobody cares?
try not paying your bills!

Death Becomes Him

"Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will, it's just a question of when"...Lyrics from "A Matter of Trust" by Billy Joel...

I'd heard stories similar to her's on at least 2 other occasions. They had met on a website. They chatted daily by text, exchanged emails, and had eventually spoken by phone. Over a period of time, the bond grew stronger. The "L" word was spoken and they'd agreed to meet. Then it happened...his "brother" contacted her while on her cyberlover's account. Her friend was deathly ill and was not going to make it. The brother wished her well and abruptly logged off.

She was hurt but suspicious. She had run a successful business for 15 years, she was nobody's fool. She had his phone number, his real name, and the city where he resided. His obituary never appeared, so she wrote to him, confronting him via email. He admitted that he was alive and well, although he never gave reason for his behavior.

We come to the internet thinking that because we are truthful, others are as well. Sadly truth is often the first casualty in online relationships. It is so easy to twist the truth while hiding behind a computer. Some lies are innocent, others are done with malicious intent. The number one negative regarding virtual relationships is that in most cases, we have nobody to vouch for our friend. In cyberspace, trust is earned, not given. Peace to all....John :-)