I am looking at poster in my classroom that a group of students created. It reads, “It’s not where you are, it’s who you’re with.”
Where am I right now? I’m in my classroom sitting at a table somewhere in Omaha. I’m with students who are attempting to write. We are all here together in this sterile room with the fluorescent lamps flickering overhead.
The real world that I am in right now is not wonderful or perfect or in any way inspirational. So I close my eyes and listen to the Dante Symphony by Liszt and think of virtual places that will inspire my writing.
It is just this type of micro-fantasy that I engage in from moment to moment that probably leads most of us into our virtual world of choice. For some of us, the virtual manifests as Facebook or Twitter. Some enjoy Tubmblr or Instagram. And some disappear into Minecraft or any number of virtual gaming adventures. We long to be somewhere else with other people doing anything but what we are doing in the real world right now.
Technology has not made this a “new thing.” It has always been this way. As leisure time has increased, our ability to disappear from the real world has also grown. The more free time we have, the more ways we have to disappear. From theater to books to radio to television, we’ve been using technology to create virtual worlds for centuries. Blaming technology for creating this “problem” isn’t the right way to go about it. The question is, why are we so easily drawn out of reality into the virtual? What is it about our evolution that makes humans so readily able to disappear from the physical world?
I have no answer. I just want to contemplate the question.