Manifesto for Reality

Published on June 2, 2011   ·   No Comments

Before virtual reality and augmented reality, there was actual reality….

by Stefanie Chernow

Did you get my Google Doc? Did you see my email? How about my phone call? Did you get my text message to let you know I left you a voicemail?

In the age of endless means of communication, we’re in love with our own electronic social lives: we text, we tweet, we photo edit our Facebook profile pictures, and essentially narrate our lives status by status. Our work follows us home in the evenings and on the weekends, similar to that adorable stray cat you fed on your doorstep once which won’t seem to go away.

Yet while we are so involved on our electronic avatars or the new iPad video game, we fail to look up. Yes, away from that glowing screen right in front of your face. Try it now – shift your eyes slightly up, or even to the left if you are feeling especially gutsy today. This is called reality.

We, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, your significant others, feel as there is an imminent threat to reality. In the midst of discovering virtual reality, and the newer trend of augmented reality, we have forgotten actual reality. We have reached the point where we must protect ourselves from the Internet.

Granted, the technology is here to stay – and we don’t necessarily want it to go either. Communication across international boundaries has experienced an unprecedentedly fluidity, and the recent Arab Spring and WikiLeaks scandal demonstrated the web’s power to give everyone a democratic voice. Plus, how else are we supposed to disseminate our lolcats? While the web is truly awesome, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Although the web is in its infancy, we are adults. For the sake of reality, it’s time to self impose how far our reality can become augmented:

We demand you make eye contact. Seriously, do I have to implant a digital screen on my eyelids so you’ll look at me while I’m talking to you?

We demand you leave your wifi zone and smell the flowers. The Internet is great for sight and sound, but have you ever head anyone say “Hey, I saw a post on how make a cake and it smelled excellent!” There is no taste or smell in your augmented reality, and your sense of touch is numb because your fingers are starting to get callouses from typing. Three out of five major senses agree you need to do something else now because they are bored.

We are drawing the line in the sand. Do you really need to text me at 1am to tell me you killed a spider, just because you have the technology to do so? Can that work-related phone call wait until office hours? Do your taste buds, friends and family deserve to be slighted at the dinner table as you check your mail on your iPhone every two minutes? Why does virtual conversation seem so much better than actual conversation? Hey, can you look at me while I’m lecturing you?!?

We understand the Internet is as addictive as crack, because we are addicted to it as well. In case of emergency (aka someone right in your actual face screaming for actual attention) and lack of will power, we permit the use of the “Internet kill switch.” Yes, what Apple and Google do not want you to know is their devices turn off! Instead of chatting on Google, change your status to “invisible” and talk to the person next to you – an actual conversation, in reality! There is a magical circular button on your iPhone and Mac Book which shuts down the device entirely!

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