A telephone call earlier this morning alterted me to the fact that I had forgotten to send in my contribution to a local newspaper’s, Thought For the Weekend’ column. In fact, I hadn’t just forgotten to send it, I’d forgotten to write it – HELP! Not to worry though, I managed to rattle something off, based on yesterday’s posts, but I thought I’d post it here anyway.
Getting ‘real’ is a daily challenge for most of us. The last few years has seen quite an increase in so-called reality TV; programs using real people to tell real stories. Well, not quite. The latest edition in this long line of reality productions is, ‘Made in Chelsea,’ described as, ‘a scripted reality show.’ What on earth is that? Virtual reality perhaps? I wonder how real that can be. Many of us spend a fair amount of our time these days negotiating our way through a virtual reality. We have our usual lives, of course, during which we interact with family and friends and generally dealing with the messiness of human life and relationships. As well as that though, we now have the opportunity to live in a virtual reality. We can go online and, using our various screen names, avatars and other internet and technological devices, become whoever we choose to be. We get to try on different personas, share our ideas, and invent identities for ourselves. I will say, here and now, that I am a big fan of the internet. In many ways it makes my life easier. It enables me to share my thoughts and ideas with the world, in a way I would probably never be able to do, if it were not for my computer. It does come at a cost though. How real is it? Whatever I decide to publish is entirely in my control. I get to edit and delete. I get to choose how I appear on line and it may or may not be the real me. The other challenge is the amount of time we spend in these virtual realities against the time we spend in the real world. I don’t just mean being physically present, but actually engaging with our hearts and minds with those around us. How many times have you seen a group of people, ostensibily out together, all texting or chatting away to someone other than their companions? We’ve never been so connected to each other and yet so lonely at the same time. We can’t make real connections, based on virtual presence. Human relationships are sometimes messy and difficult, but they are necessary to us. We need to feel loved and wanted. However popular we are in our virtual space, it will never make up for real life.