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. 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.