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We’ve been based in the tangible world since the beginning of our existence. Our experience here is human; the only experience we once knew. This human experience, as complex and flawed as it may be, is what forms our reality.
Through our appreciation for the moments of existence, moments when we see the beauty of the world, moments that make things seem to finally have some finality and awe, we are compelled to keep going, even if it means drudging through suffering to get there. We find our emotions confused, bittersweet, and often skyrocketing down valleys and back up again.
Our world is still is a place of beauty. But those who have the power are now choosing to replace their humanity with new, virtual realities—the ones found through the internet.
Even though the internet was only introduced to the general public in the last few decades, more than half of the total population of this planet has used the internet, and this number is rapidly growing. The number of mobile phone users is around the same amount.
In every day of our lives we now seek solace in the internet. It is a false refuge in the most fundamental and basic times of our lives—times when our human experience seems inferior to the world of perfection.
Inside a screen we seek constant satisfaction and gratification. We sift through countless pictures, perfectly edited and rendered to eliminate any imperfections or blemishes. What we find can never be replicated in the real world; the internet doesn’t show the emotions that make us human. It doesn’t show the suffering, how for every one beautiful moment we experience there are a thousand more filled with the mundanities and pains of our daily lives.
When we experience this constant flow of perfection at a daily rate, often for a huge chunk of a day, our imperfect human experience becomes something that an internet-addicted population finds inferior. Our attention spans, diminished from the constant flow of the internet, aren’t used to reality. We see our world as lesser than what it used to be, and the high that we got from perfection the first time becomes normal and therefore less potent.
The internet, as a result, has become ingrained into our palm, in the form of a phone, and our thighs as a laptop; we cannot escape the drug once it has been administered. We created it, but now we can’t stop it. We can’t even recognize that it’s a problem.
We are slowly fading away from a human world into an artificial one, and the more that we dive into the digital, the more we want to stay there, forever.
And our digital worlds keep getting better, with better computers and smartphones released every year to make sure that we have the ideal browsing experience. Goggles to completely mask reality exist; internet speeds are getting faster (sans net neutrality) for our scrolling pleasure. But we must consider the effects that living in another world has on base reality. When we spend more time in another world, often thinking more about that world than reality, the real world gets neglected. We must not let this happen, for the sake of the wellbeing of this planet and our humanity.
Our outside world, in addition to becoming less appealing to our attention spans, will also physically fall apart. Our technology will become pristine, but just outside of our own homes the infrastructure that we once used so often will crumble, and the materials we need for our new technology will become ever increasing and take a larger toll on the most inner core of our planet.
We are on the brink of no return to reality. The world of screens has generally become more appealing than the real world, and as the internet spreads to the far corners of the earth, we are facing the very real termination of reality, particularly as we see further technological progression push toward augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
What I think is crucial to remember in this new world is that we are not, in fact, living in a more brilliant version of reality, but rather a realm of code surrounding code encased in a brick of steel and rare earth metals.
If we are to justify that something is real based on being able to touch it, the only thing that is real is the phone in front of you, your mind and being enveloped by the world we think we hold. We need to harken back to our most longstanding reality, and realize that we as humans won’t ever know how to live inside a world that isn’t there.
You are the only one watching out for yourself, and we need to know that in this new world more perfect doesn’t actually mean more perfect.
What I’ve been trying for the past few weeks, in an attempt to claim my reality and attention span back, is checking all of my various communication channels and searching a little bit— email, scheduling, the works— at a set time during the day, and outside of that time forbidding myself from looking at anything not directly related to work or school.
In addition, I’ve almost completely forsaken social media, unless I’m using it for messaging friends to catch up with them, or to plan something in real life. I’ve found it challenging to stop scrolling very often—it takes an effort to keep social media strictly for messaging because of its addicting nature.
I think that unlimited access to the internet, even on mundane activities like email, can really tear you away from reality. Being connected to the internet all day long creates a sense of an alternate reality, instead of the rarity of occasional, isolated and clearly chronologically defined tech use, which is healthy for a human.
It is important that we take a step back and realize how much we actually use technology and the impact it has on our lives, and ensure that we can clearly distinguish between the digital realm and our true reality. Although it may seem harmless, it’s what’s separating us from our human existence.
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