Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Virtual Life

That's not to be confused with a virtuous life. A virtual life in this case refers to the world found online. In the world of My Space, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, Blogging, free-for-all, knock down, drag out Forums, one can begin to live life by entering a fantasy land of the imagination but my real name isn't Alice. Where does social networking end and fantasy begin? The line blurs quite often. Who can nurture two thousand friendships? Just asking. People do whatever they do for a variety of reasons so to be hands off, nonjudgmental about it, whatever their motivations, long live the Internet and information "sharing."

As a voracious reader, I inhale the printed word whether it is on old-fashioned paper books, newspapers, or magazines, an e-reader, a cell phone, a TV screen, or a computer screen. Aren't we all a little like the robot, Number 5 in the movie Short Circuit who repeats, "Input, I need input!" Shameless voyeurism perhaps, more likely a twenty-first century information junkie. No apologies from this corner or that fragment--creative license. Those of us who engage in this fire hose of verbal cacophony know to come armed with the audacity of a waterboarding agent.

Ultimately, when entering the virtual world, I wonder, "What's in it for me?" Entertainment or the opportunity to rearrange a few synapses is a goal to which I can relate. It is fascinating to learn that natural vanilla comes from the bean of two orchid species. That trivia might be needed for an online crossword puzzle. Money might be a goal for a few folks--more power to you. Social networking from a keyboard seems a little too sanitary for me, and I find it hard to trust what's on my computer screen. It's a marvel that folks would put their real names online, or maybe that is just an illusion. "All the world's a stage," and we are all nom de plume. E-mail with established friends is convenient and great to maintain long distance friendships because it is easy to imagine their facial expressions and the tone of their voices. Lacking those very important features of communication, relating to others online in places like a forum, or a blog seems to be like "Number 5 is Alive" and minus a few senses!

Jump in, the water's fine. Like real life, the virtual life has swimming pools, hot tubs, reflecting pools, whirlpools, cesspools, quicksand, swamps, etc., etc. For me, the virtual life is a warm sea with waves of entertainment best taken with a grain of salt.

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