Tuesday, November 04, 2003

What is "Real"?

Lynn Sislo, who's getting into the whole discussion of "Luddite", also says this:

It's funny how sometimes this whole Internet thing seems more like real life than real "real life." And there's another possible topic for a future post. Why do we talk of "real life" as if life online is not just as real? I sometimes use the term "realspace" to refer to that which is not cyberspace and I've seen the word "meatspace" which is more accurate but sort of icky. We need some new words.

She's right. I don't want to steal her thunder, since she mentions the possibility of a future post on this, but I don't get the whole separation of "online" stuff and "real" stuff -- or, like Lynn, I don't think of what I do online as any less "real". It's all real, to me; I just think of all the books I'd most likely have never read if I hadn't seen them mentioned online. Or the music I'd never have heard. Or the films I'd not have seen.

Just to give one example: my budding love of anime began when I saw Princess Mononoke. But why did I rent that film one night, four years ago? Because I already owned the score on CD and, loving the music dearly, wanted to see the film that accompanied it. But why did I already own the CD? Because I'd seen it glowingly reviewed a year or two before that, on one of the film music sites or forums I read. And the causal chain doesn't stop there, but goes back farther, and it keeps going on: for example, would I have started exploring other areas of Japanese culture (cinema, classical music, food) if not for my introduction to anime by way of a single film by way of a soundtrack CD?

What I do online informs my choices and offers directions for my "real" life that I'd be less likely to consider otherwise. I see no reason to separate the two, the "cyber" and the "real". And there I'll stop, before I start sounding like Morpheus in The Matrix.

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