Reality vs. (Virtual) Reality

Chayko’s book “SuperConnected” helped me to see the beginning of the digital era and its process more in detail and also from a different perspective. Chayko (2018) explained how technology and internet we have now such as internet, computer, smartphone, social media, etc. have developed in a well-organized way with numerical data. It is also interesting that Chayko sees technology as part of social systems. This issue also leads me to think about “To whom will the technology give greater power and freedom?” as Chayko (2018) quotes Postman (1993). Regarding this, I would always thought that whoever can develop new technology and up-to-date gadgets might be able to grab the power and freedom in modern society depending on the level of technology, where Chayko (2018) explains, “individuals in technology-rich communities and societies tend to live techno-social lives.”

Also, the sociomental spaces that Chayko (2018) introduces are interesting that people have a collective, shared conscience there and that the space behind the monitors has been enlarged and had an intersection with the physical space as Chayko mentions. As neighbors living in the nearby area get together often and feel a sense of belonging with one another, people develop a shared identity, culture, purpose, and fate, as well as feelings of togetherness and belonging in the same online communities. Likewise, space – whether it is online or offline – is an important factor in the era of technology. Chayko even explains that this space can be shaped and reshaped and that people enter and exit different spaces. The author also mentions that digital environments are directly related to reality and that they are eventually reality.

I especially want to focus on how deeply digital world is connected with the physical world/reality. Chayko (2018) says, “Digital environments are so fully enmeshed with the physical world… [O]ne need not even be online to feel the impact.” If this phenomenon happens in a positive way, that can be helpful to both those who are online and offline. However, if that affects in a negative way, like what happened in S. Korea a few years ago, that can cause serious social issues. A teenage boy killed his friend because his friend annoyed him. This teenage boy said that he felt like he had to kill him just like he killed his enemies in computer games he had been playing. This tragedy happened because the boy couldn’t distinguish reality from the virtual reality. Hope people who spend time in virtual reality can be educated to distinguish these two realms so that there would be no more tragedies like this in reality.  

Posted on October 4, 2020, in Digital, Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Chayko (2018) says, “Digital environments are so fully enmeshed with the physical world… [O]ne need not even be online to feel the impact.”

    Hi, YJ!
    That quote reminds me of a segment from Patton Oswalt’s comedy special “Annihilation”. He starts the segment by saying to the audience, “I’m surprised you’re in such a good mood considering what just happened on Twitter”. The mood of the audience shifted from joyous to anxious and concerned before Oswalt says that he is just joking and that nothing bad had happened. He goes on to discuss a specific political leader’s Twitter habits and how they cause stress and anxiety. Even though the audience wasn’t currently online, they felt the impact and the power of Twitter’s digital environment.

  2. YJ

    From the outside, it seems like an interesting academic paradox: we must accept that the virtual/digital world is 100% a part of the physical/”real” world now while also scrambling to live with the consequences of these humans who grow up not ever knowing there once was another way. That young boy you mentioned who killed his friend the way he would have killed a video game character demonstrates a mindset non-digital natives find appalling. It’s almost unbelievable. Yet, there is now a generation of people who can’t conceive of reality without their digital existence. How does humanity handle these people who have a fundamentally different way of viewing life that we aren’t even capable of having?

  3. YJ,
    I like how you emphasized the “collective conscience.” This is a cool term because it speaks to a connectedness among people that could be partly due to some similarity in how the brain works. Besides physical space, what connects people online or offline is their perception. The way people think about a shared space/shared occasion or a unifying factor defines the values or goals that then influence what collective actions they will decide to take. It is fascinating!

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