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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Living Online

Becoming immersed in World of Warcraft the last month or so has really given me some perspective on my daily life. As regular readers know, I have spent most of the last 10-15 years of my life online, but a lot of that has been spent doing things like monitoring news stories, participating in social networks, and similar things. For the most part, these things are available elsewhere - that is to say, they did not originate online or through computer technology, Internet and computing technology simply make them more accessible.

Becoming immersed in a virtual reality - a shared VR, at that - truly brings the full power of this technology to the forefront and shows you what it's capable of. In WoW, I have met real people and gamed with them, discussed things unrelated to the game with them, and developed interpersonal relationships with people I have never actually met and do not really know in the traditional sense of the word. For the most part, all that we are certain we have in common is this shared reality, which we experience through our characters (which many call "toons"), but it's enough to base a distanced, yet friendly, relationship on.

But I'm not saying anything new, I just wanted to share my personal experience with you because I realized something I haven't thought of since I was in my early 20s: I don't miss real life. 

In that statement, I am referring to real news stories, Internet sensations, the latest musical "genius," which movies topped the box office, which politician said what, and all the mundane minutiae with which I have ensconced myself over the last several years. It's been extremely gratifying to escape to a VR in which none of these things exist, and it's helped me realize how little they actually matter.

In my early 20s, all I did was play roleplaying games, play in a band, go to work, and read books. I rarely watched TV, I hardly listened to the radio, I did not bother to keep up with the news. While some may argue that I was an ignorant kid, I had a pretty good life. And though I admit that I have fallen out of touch with mainstream society and goings-on, my basic point is that most of that crap isn't that important. Replacing my daily routine of surveying the news and participating in discussions regarding such nonsense with daily quests has been cathartic and I am really enjoying my new, virtual life.

Of course, I'm grounded enough to know that it isn't real life and can never truly replace it. I still have to do things like clean my home, read e-mail, check news headlines, and the like - I just don't do it as often and I'm nowhere near as involved or emotionally affected by such things. The long and short of it is that a lot of people make a big to do over nothing a lot of the time. Participating in World of Warcraft has made that point abundantly clear to me, and it's been a blast playing.

© C Harris Lynn, 2012

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