I’m finding it hard to come to terms with the ever-increasing number of people spending more of their time in the virtual world, instead of the real world. Virtual reality is no replacement for reality, by the very virtue of it’s virtuality.
I’m interested, though, in the effect that this surrealist, fantasy, parallel-universe living is having on us as a species and a community. Everyone is always somewhere else other than in the room. The invaluable dimension of facial and subconscious physical expression, body language, as a tool in communication and understanding, is lost in this realm, and I can’t help but envisage the fallout a decade or so down the track, with a line in the sand between the ‘realists’ and the ‘virtual realists’. Clear differences in behaviour, language and communication methods….. and values. A recipe for the discord that opposites inevitably create.
I have an acquaintance who goes on holiday to a crowded tourist destination, taking photos as we all do. On his return though, he deletes all the people and stuff from the background in order to recreate a mythical holiday that doesn’t exist in his memory…..that is, along with the touchups to his own physical features, tan and teeth, the brightness and light of the day, etc. Now, I can completely appreciate the romanticism of this, but a total rewrite seems so mindless I’m not sure whether to laugh, disparage or start a charity for folk this enslaved to the strange compulsion of image distortion. I estimate that this individual spends 60% of his time redoing the 40% of his life that he actually gets round to living. Is this some form of techno-anorexia? An extreme reduction in the ‘substance’ we allow into our story? Life dysmorphia?
Or is it just good old fashioned deception? On a mass scale. Competitive ideology pushed to the extreme, self-delusion in quite a pure and concentrated form. Everyone else seems to be someone else and yet I’ve just always been me. Am I the deluded party here? Am I missing the boat to somewhere special or am I the last bastion of something precious? By offering my naked transparency, my warts n all, I have always felt comfortable in the fact that everyone around me could stand the real me and would therefore hopefully not be burdened with the disappointment of hindsight – the sudden realisation that I’m not really that shiny after all. I’d rather someone saw me for my patina.
I think the reason I get irritated with this shift towards a mass hoax, is that I am too busy living my life to waste precious time rehashing and rebranding…. and yet the imposition of this new substance-less reality on my person from the folk around me finds me questioning the very fabric of my foundation: ‘Be true to yourself, insofar as to remain respectful of others and treat others as you wish to be treated.’
“Be true to Yourself”. And yet, for the falsifiers, the defence is ‘creative’. But creative is only a situation away from cunning…..and cunning is mainly used to deceive… Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate an alias or a crazy alter-ego, but then, they are not denial of self…..more an extension or addition. I feel sad if this is the way things really are going. We humans have phenomenal skills and abilities in our grasp, our bodies are a work of true genius and our minds infinite, for now.
Just take some time to really study your hands, wiggle your fingers, think about all they are capable of and how they do it, all they’ve done and all they could turn themselves to. They deserve so much more than a life tip-toeing over a keyboard and tapping on a screen. They offer endless possibilities and not merely through touching buttons.
Why do we choose to underuse our extraordinary abilities and concentrate instead on whitewashing our own, unique, colourful individuality, quirks and all. We’ve been sold the dream, not the reality, and to dream you must be asleep. Still, given the choice (fortunately we still have one) I’m not done with reality yet, it’s too enchanting and fascinating, amusing and surprising. It’s hard to watch the majority, like narcissistic, narcoleptic parrots, ignore and ridicule the minority of beleaguered and burdened realists in their tireless quest to keep this show on the road. It cannot be argued, that when you strip back all the layers of our crazy evolution there are three fundamentals, essential for human life to prevail; air, soil and water. All the creativity and layering in all the world won’t cover those bare facts.
Self-perpetuating self-delusion produces self-indulgent self-absorption, self-elevation, self-deification and ultimately self-destruction.
Keep it real