The Internet allows us to transcend the limitations of physical reality.
Computers are physical devices but the world of structures and processes they allow us to create, manipulate, and give meaning to, are not part of our mundane physical world.
The world of the Internet is not attached to the physical world in the way we are used to thinking about such things. Time and space, for instance, have a very different meaning on the Internet, or even on a cell phone, than in our physical world where the time of day and where you are at this moment is very important.
We are experimenting with the terms ‘virtual reality’, ‘social media’, and even ‘binge watching’, to attempt to define this new space we have created for ourselves. Reality TV may not be ‘real’ in the studio, but it becomes real in our living room as we engage the digital narrative.
And everybody knows by now that advertising presents a ‘reality’ that is totally unreal compared to our actual experience of the product. What they present is a phantasm supported by billions in marketing to persuade us that it IS real.
This digital, electronic reality parallels the physical world in many ways, but it also has many qualities that we simply do not have physically. On the Internet, I can talk to, and often physically view, any one of billions of people on the planet in ‘real’ time.
On the Internet I can send myself a message from the future, explore my family history to the nth degree, exchange naughty pictures with strangers, buy and sell things in foreign countries, research arcane subjects that will never appear in the local library, and on and on…
I can do none of these things in my physical world. They all happen in a digital world that is not necessarily limited to what is physically possible but has its own rules.
We have added a new layer to our reality, one that is new and exciting and constantly changing – and not limited to many of our old ideas about what is possible.