“You live in a virtual word”

It was something someone said to me on Monday night. A real human person said it to my real human face as I sat with my laptop in front of me.

I think I tried to defend myself a bit by saying that life has moved on at such a pace that technology is an essential part of it, and doing things online is merely a reflection of that. But it got me thinking. And so this morning I looked up what a virtual world is. Online of course.

“A virtual world is an online community that takes the form of a computer-based simulated environment through which users can interact with one another.”

It’s one definition, and perhaps the one that was meant by ‘you live in a virtual world’. I can interact online, and chat with people all over the world, from the comfort of a sofa in my pants, if I wish to. I don’t though. I’m always fully trousered.

I don’t need to go out to shop. I can buy shopping online and get Tesco to put all their stuff that’ll expire tomorrow in bags and drop it round my house. Awesome! I went shopping last week and the place was filled with about 20 managers all getting in my way and talking about bunting like it’s the most important thing on this planet. Online 1, Offline 0.

I don’t need to buy clothes. I can order online, get them sent to me and try them on at home. I might need to return them, but if they’re too big I’ll just eat loads to fill them out. Too small? I’ll just eat less. Or cut a lump off. Online 2, Offline 0.

Banking. Online. Why do banks smell so funny? I hate that smell. Is that what ‘a lot of money in one place’ smells like? Online 3, Offline 0.

You can meet people and converse with them on Twitter, Facebook. Send emails to friends which can be replied to in seconds. No-one sends letters any more. Chat online, Skype, or SMS. Mind you, some people get well narked off if they send a text and you don’t respond immediately. But the fact that you can, almost anywhere, speak or communicate with someone thousands of miles away is pretty bloody awesome. Online 4, Offline 0.

You need to meet people, but, as I’ve said, at times I find this hard. Do I prefer to hide behind my laptop and try to amuse? Is this my preferred method of communication?

No, as the people who’ve met me at tweetups know, I love a good chat, banter, and a laugh. I love meeting people. I’m not any different online, I don’t think. Perhaps people who’ve met me can confirm or deny this. I’m the same online, virtually, as I am offline, actually.

And you know me, I’m a dad and I know you can’t kiss a scraped knee better via the web. Parenting is also something we have to do actually, not virtually. If I’m away from my children technology helps me see them and talk to them. But it can’t replace me. It can’t replace a cuddle.

And, in researching this a bit this morning, in my usual half-arsed fashion, I came across this from a kindly looking man with a beard.

‘The human world is not natural. Humans make tools and use tools to produce their world. Our landscapes are products of agriculture. Modern cities are products of the industrial age. Β The emerging global society will – in addition – be a product of digital technology.’

So it’s actually fine to be virtual. We’ve adapted. This is how it goes. What can’t you do online? You can do everything online nowadays, and I quite like that idea.

‘Sex, you can’t do that virtually’, I was told.

Good point well made.

With a last minute flurry of goals, the score ends Online 3, Offline 4.

What do you like or dislike about this modern age? How virtual are you? All comments warmly received in my usual holes.

Thanks for reading.


9 responses to ““You live in a virtual word”

  1. I’m very, very old fashioned. I HATE nooks/kindles/ e readers in general. Nothing compares to a good book. I love old fashioned style (Specifically Tudor England, I was a history minor).

    While I don’t think technology is my ideal favorite, I take advantage of it. I live here, may as well make use of our resources.

    With that said I think I love the romanticized edition of history. I remember going through college just thinking ‘How terrible! I can’t believe humans could do that!” and such. Its the idea of a more simple time that I love, but I don’t think there ever was a more simple time.

    I think idealism is dangerous, to say the least, I first hand know it. Before I learned about history I was SO convinced that I would be happier in the 1600s. It became depressing to live in the now. It wasn’t until I realized just how bad the then was that I could appreciate the now.

    I’m tired. I’m rambling, and I think i’m entirely off topic with your blog post.

    At any rate, I appreciated reading it :).

    • Thanks for commenting, and for taking the time to read.
      As you say, technology, while may not be one’s ideal way of doing things, is here so take advantage of it. In some ways it makes previously long-winded tasks easier. Get up, write a letter about something, post it, wait a few days. No. Now we can email it. But perhaps our expectation now is that as we can email something in 5 minutes we expect a response to it in 4.

  2. I still try to do as much I can ‘actually’. For me both working and living in the same space can seriously do my ‘swede’ in! FaceBook and Twitter are my vices, with a small amount of online tantrum-dependent grocery shopping πŸ™‚

    • I do too. Actually is good, as buying a brand new leather Ted Baker belt today for Β£1.50 in a charity shop showed me. But sometimes it’s easier to do the onerous stuff indoors, on a laptop, and leave space in your day for the actual real fun stuff.
      Thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m a bit (lot) better at writing things than I am at saying them, so online suits me quite nicely. I’m shy in person, so the buffer that the cyberspace abyss provides me is actually incredibly useful.

    There are limits to what it can do though. I can’t ride my bike online, or play basketball, or go for a walk somewhere beautiful.

    I love the increasing connectedness of the world though; that I can still comment on, or write a blog post/tweet/whatever from my phone while out walking is amazing and wonderful to me,

    • Thanks for your comment. The way the world is more connected is the thing I love too, but yes. There are lots you can’t do online.
      I don’t think I’m better at writing with my keyboard than writing with my mouth. And my last sentance just proves that completely. πŸ™‚

  4. You can do ‘the sex’ online, you have this thingumywotsit that goes up, or round, depending on genderage, then the person the other end controls it . . . Wow, even online i’m a prude . . . but you get the jist?

    • I do. Not sure I want the jist, or can get my head round the fact that such a thing exists. I’m now a little frightened to go to sleep.
      Thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

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