Is Virtual Reality – Reality?

I know this is somewhat of a cliché question – we all write about it. The differences between ‘real’ life and virtual life. How people can pretend to be anything or anyone that they want on the Internet essentially with impunity and get away with the most outrageous things sometimes. And of course I am not talking about spamming people’s email boxes with viagra ads. I’m talking about some pretty serious and nasty stuff. Child porn, abductions, identity theft and so on and so forth ad nauseum. But I want to take a little further spin around this block beyond the usual path that is traveled with this line of thinking.

I want to talk about love. LOL – gee that sounds like the beginning of disco song or something. Now before you start getting glazed eyes at the prospect of my doing a post about EHarmony or something hear me out for minute.

Long before there were computers, the internet, television, radio, telephones and any immediate type of communication medium, there were letters. As was the custom many moons ago, people wrote letters to one another, long letters, meaningful letters, letters that told of their secrets, their dreams, their hearts and sometimes the farming news and the condition of Aunt Marion’s bunions. It was also often the case that men and women fell in love through the medium of letters – Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning are a well known and famous example of such a love affair. During their 20 month courtship they exchanged nearly 600 letters. And if you have ever had the pleasure and joy of reading any of these letters you will discover that in fact it is possible to first find your way to love through words. And if you have not read any of these letters, do yourself a favor and read some of them. It will restore your belief in the human heart and in love.

So, tracking up the 21st century – or whatever century we’re in because last I heard there was some debate about it and I can’t be too bothered with it – the letter, has been replaced with the email (essentially). Though often emails are more like grocery lists and jotted scribbles across kitchen pads and are used as a quick efficient modern shorthand to get some basic ideas across, they too are letters. I don’t know about you but I have been known to write some very long emails and had some very long emails returned to me. I have had what I can only describe as a ‘saga’ between myself and some others where the exchange of emails numbered up to 100 over the course of a week. So strong and intense was the need to deliver and receive the ideas and concepts being discussed. For me, communication is communication. The fact that someone cannot see me nor hear my voice does not mean nor make my communication false or insincere. Or that of anyone else.

Bloggers may in particular understand this because eventually you become a part of a sort neighborhood, where you find like minded individuals who share interests, worries, troubles and joys in common through the mutual reading of the blogs. This often begins friendships and emails, chats and sometimes even phone calls ensue. In my case I can say that I have found two lifelong friends all because of the internet and email and online activities. But they are actually more than friends, I truly think of them as family. How this began and how it continued and why it even came about I guess is irrelevent but these two people are no less unbelievably and undeniably loved friends than they would be if we had grown up next door to each other. Phone calls, gifts, birthday cards, care packages, emails all have been exchanged and frequently and regularly and they are part of the paradigm of my life. I honestly cannot imagine my life without them in it. And one of them lives on the other side of the world, literally.

So the question then is how does this happen? How can you come to love someone you have never met as though they were your family? As though you grew up in the same house with them or worked at the desk next to them for the last twenty years. I’m not sure I know the answer but I will give a guess. I think that as human beings regardless of the environment we find ourselves in we give off clues of who we are, what we think, what we like, dislike, are afraid of, hope for and that can actually be perceived by another human if the connection is strong enough and the desire exists.

I have to laugh when I hear people say (write) that they are nothing like they seem on their blogs or on the internet, etc. etc. because of course they must be because they created whatever presence they are in that medium, whether they write about diaper bargains or heartfelt memoirs. A piece of them is there for anyone who has an eye to see it. Not all of them of course, but certainly some part, I don’t see how it could possibly be otherwise.

And it is also human nature to be drawn to anything kindred, in whatever form a person finds it. That they find it online, thanks to some whacky exchange of energy and wavelengths seems to me, irrelevent. Things do happen for a reason. People do cross paths for a reason – the how and where I think is secondary to the reason. So, while there are one million and one reasons to be cautious about meeting people online, becoming friends or even perhaps more – and rightfully so – there are also reasons to remember that the written word has been the medium for companionship, friendship and even love for longer than any of us have been on this earth and so to stay open to the possibility of that I think is worth the risk of being tricked, disappointed or just flat out wrong. You never know, you could end up with two lifelong friends and maybe more.

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17 thoughts on “Is Virtual Reality – Reality?

  1. What an excellent post and got me really really thinking again. Oh ! Annie I don’t want to be the first to comment on this one. Oh ! Sod it, Hehe ! I will.

    I have had a four year friendship with my friend on line- over this computer. We’ve never met, never spoken on the phone ( which I have to say as caused some disrest within me and we are at a point where we don’t speak now or write should I say )

    Yes ! I’ve shared my dreams, my heart and my secrets with my friend. Ha!! 600 emails in 20 months -thats nothing. Hehe!! An addict new in recovery needing to speak about EVERYTHING would double that.

    My connection I felt with this woman, the love that I felt for this woman was strong.I lost both my parents to cancer and started using again. She got me through it all. Well my connection to her got me through it all with out me having to pick drugs up.

    I got really obsessed around her – I did. I was mad obsessed with my 12 step programming and recovery and loads spilled out on her. Aww!! I drove her cray. I loved her that much. God did I love this woman.

    Yes ! I couldn’t believe how you could love some one like this -that you’d never met and I couldn’t believe the pain I felt when I had to let her go or when she had to let me go. It felt like I had my heart broken,It felt like a relationship had ended. Maybe it did, maybe it had to. I don’t know. Maybe part of that relationship had to end. I miss her like mad.

    That reality Was more than real to me in a way. That reality Got me clean from herion addiction. That reality Gave me my life back.
    That reality Taught me how to love.
    That reality Taught me about obsession, I’d never been obsessed around a preson before. I never want to be obsessed around another person again. Never.

    Thank you annie. Sorry for wittering.

    Hey Sweet Di,
    No worries about the wittering – that’s what blogs are for. 😉 Yes, you’ve mentioned your friend many times and now I see why. I see what she did for you and I am glad she did otherwise I’d not have known you. As I said, I think things and people happen for a reason and your story tends to prove my point. Someone was able to be there for you during a time that could have gone oh so wrong. A blessing. It can’t anything else, can it?

    As always thanks for sharing your thoughts and yourself here.

    xo
    Annie

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  2. Can I just come back really quick Annie.

    The reality is;

    That online friendship and love was strong enough and more powerful than the need to put herion in my system. Now ! For an addict that is withdrawing from opiates thats huge.

    I’m crying here. I wouldn’t be alive today ( and thats not me being extreme ) if it wasn’t for my love for my friend and the love I felt from my friend. Yes ! On line. I know that and all my friends know that to.

    Teary Smiles
    Di x

    Of course, dear, you can always come back. I believe you, I don’t doubt it for a second. People often have no idea what a bit of kindness can do for another human being. And though it may not be common, yes it can be the difference between life and death, wrack and ruin. I’m so glad she was there for you and that you were there for her as well.

    Annie xo

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  3. Oh Di, you’re going to make us all cry! Especially those of us who know who you’re talking about. What a strong and passionate woman you are xx

    And Annie, I’m just loving all this ruminating over here lately. Sorry I’ve been so elusive – I’m trying so hard to get the book where I want it to be that I’m quite the hermit (I’ve finished the first draft – yay!). Anyway, this one sure is a great post x

    Hey Simonne,
    Yes, you are right, what would we do without our Di? Such a gorgeous spirit, no one more open and honest. Love her to bits.

    As to the ruminating – I appreciate comment but that word, argh, awful isn’t it – makes me think of constipation. Although, that might apply here. LOL. I know there has been some I don’t know, for lack of a better term, heavy thinking going on over here – and I’m glad that it has be relatable on some level for everybody – but I’m hoping something really ridiculous strikes me soon. Don’t think I want to become the gloomy gus of the blogosphere as a regular thing.

    Great news on the book – you go you little aussie sprite! Well done.

    Annie xo

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  4. Okay, so, I’m exactly as I appear on my blog. Maybe a little louder. With a slightly more nasal and childlike voice (although you sound exactly as I hear you write, oddly enough).

    And I think virtual friendship, if based on the same tenets as physically interactive friendship can be just as true.

    mJ,
    Actually I’d have to agree that you are. And you do have a little voice, LOL. Cute. Yeah, same here, friends is friends, right? And you gotta have friends.

    Love
    Annie

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  5. i think i am less bold on my page than i am in the physical realm. Also i make faces when i talk you all miss out on that add so much to my little yarns.

    i think it is possible to develop real friendships online, as long as the folks involved are real. And even when folks are trying to create an illusion of themselves, a better or meaner or nicer version of themselves, there will be clues to the real person behind it all.

    i am currently reading “Negotiating With the Dead” by Margaret Atwood and she spends a chapter on The Writer in relation to The Writing and how many writers are separate from that which they write. i think it just depends on the person and what they write and why.

    This is a thoughtful post, Chica. Again, you get to the nitty-gritty, which is what makes possible online relationships just as real as those found in the physical. It’s direct, straight for the meat and taters.

    LOL chica, I haven’t heard the phrase ‘meat and taters’ in a long time. It was like seeing an old friend. Thanks for that. 🙂

    Yeah you make some great points – it does depend on the folks involved and how real they are. Not knowing what Atwood said it’s hard to comment, but on face value, I’d disagree, I do believe that every writer is connected to the material in one way or another. I mean, I write mysteries and I’m not a cop, nor have I ever known anyone who has been murdered, research can cover that – but the elements in my stories that are me are the people, the places, the food, the other many things. But then, that’s just me.

    Glad you could sink your teeth into this one. I would really love your thoughts on the post previous to this. I’ve been waiting, actually, to hear them. Please? 🙂
    Annie

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  6. Last year my dad handed me a huge stack of envelopes. Inside were letters that my parents wrote to each other daily over the course of two Summers, during their courtship. Both Summers, my dad was away doing field research (he was a research scientist). And even though they wrote daily, each letter was still at least 8 pages long. I have only read a handful so far, but it is my intention to transcribe each of them, and create a book.

    As you know, I met the Urbane Lion online. I had been doing the online dating thing for months, so had chatted with quite a few men. However, I knew by the end of my first online chat with the Lion, there was something there. And so did he. By the time we met in person, it was like we had known each other for years! And even still, if I have something of a somewhat serious nature (in my mind anyway) to say to him, he knows he’s going to get it in writing first, so I can compose my thoughts.

    As for the blogging community, even in the virtual world I’m an aura & vibe type gal. I can tell within a person’s first paragraph if I want to connect with them or not. Some, I just feel nothing, others give me the outright heebie-jeebies! And the rest? I consider them all my friends, even though we may never meet.

    Your virtual friend,

    Urban Panther
    Aw, see that signature made me tear up a little, E. Thank you. I know you met Panther online and it was quite apparent that you two connected, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit that you found each other to be kindred souls when you met in the flesh. I tend intuit things myself where people are concerned both online and off, and I am usually right – but not always. But definitely, if I get that heebie geebie feeling I am totallly out of there. LOL.

    Your buddy, chum and friend,
    Annie
    PS: And I forgot to mention how sweet I found the thing about your mom and dad’s letters. I’m sure they are a treasure to read. I’d love to see the book when it’s published. And who better than you to write it?

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  7. I have met some wonderful people on-line and the friendship with them is no less because we haven’t met face to face. I agree that we do see the real person online, even if its only in bits and pieces and it may be different from the person that they try to portray in real life too – little bits and pieces can add up slowly to a big picture.

    And ruminating makes me think of cows(ruminants), but happy cows sitting in the shade under a tree. The only time cows sit is if they are happy and have enough to eat. Weird imagery I know, sorry 🙂

    Gem, I love your happy cow analogy – works for me. I think cows are cute. And you’re so right about the bits and pieces – whether online or not.

    Annie

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  8. Thank goodness for Gemisht! I like the word ruminating! Think happy cows Annie, not constipation, HAPPY COWS! 🙂

    Okay Simonne, I’m a happy cow, happy, happy, happy cow. It’s funny because Zelda and I have this joke about schoopid schoopid cows. LOL.
    Annie

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  9. I think it is wonderful when people can connect through the written word, whether it be handwritten or typed. It’s true that one must be careful online but when it comes to a true relationship there is always a risk in putting yourself out there. Fortunately, some are willing to take the risk and they reap the wonderful love and friendship of those they took a chance online on. 😉

    LOL@ Simonne and HAPPY COWS!

    Hey Teens,
    I agree. You do reap the rewards when you are willing to take the risk, regardless of how the connection came about. Yes, we are all happy cows apparently. 😉
    Annie

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  10. i love this … i found my best friend through my blog, we put in 5 hour marathon phone calls and though we live in different countries, she is the world to me. when we met last summer, it was so easy, like we had been hanging out forever … every time i meet a blogger that i have gotten to know in this medium, they are exactly who they appear to be and i love that about this ‘virtual reality’ which as it turns out is pretty real. xo

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  11. What lovely women, what lovely friends, what lovely human beings, what lovely bloggers, what love. It’s been so nice to read other friends prespective around on-line friendships.I’ve been really bogged down with my feelings of the loss of my friend and trying to understand our friendship. – You would be wouldn’t you if you love someone so much.

    ~~~What does ruminating mean Simmone.Thanks for you lovely comment~~~

    In Fact !!

    What does real mean Hehe!! Oh ! and actualy what does virtual mean to. Thanks for this post Annie. You seem to be writing posts at the moment which hit me right there.Your kinda writing things and putting things together in a way that I can’t. I’m to Stuuuupid.

    I’m virtualy real virtualy most of the time weather be here at home or connecting on line.

    OH !! I’ve wrote a poem again. Ha!! Bum bum !

    Love,friends & connections. Thanks once again dear Annie Friend.
    Di.

    Any time, Di. I thought this might resonate with you, knowing of your friendship that helped you get through some very tough times. Maybe it is as simple as reaching out – no matter the way you do it, you are bound to find that someone will reach back, eh?

    Love
    Annie

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  12. PS.

    I absoutly adore the picture you put here Annie. What a great appropriate picture for this heart felt touching post.I quess we all go through similar sort of stuff then don’t we with out love and our friendships.

    Love,love love makes the world go round. Yup ! A diso song. Smiling. x

    Me too, Di. It is a little bit odd but I really liked how it seem to speak to the subject matter. LOL. You know me and my pictures – I will search the seven seas to find the right one, eh? 😉
    Annie

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  13. “I mean, I write mysteries and I’m not a cop, nor have I ever known anyone who has been murdered, research can cover that…”

    You hit the nail on the head there. That’s the point she was making and i didn’t express it well. Sorry about that.

    Writing somewhere else a few years ago, people got a certain idea of me as a person outside of my writing. When i posted a picture of myself, people were shocked at how short i was. Truly! More than one person said they imagined me taller and buff. Who knew? 🙂 One person said they thought i’d be sexier. WTF? 😦

    And with my not so recent creative writings, i think people may imagine me puffy from crying or perhaps a little more mysterious than i actually am. i am the most boring person ever, that’s why i write- that’s my excitement.

    You and clancyjane know me most. And you know i’m just an average shmoe. Perhaps i’m being presumptuous concerning my writing, but i think going off my writing and comments alone, one may mistake me for something shinier, funnier, more clever than i am.

    i had been avoiding comment on that other post, fearing an essay would come about, and it did. It is an excellent post and an idea that i hold tight and close.

    LOL – well, I’d hardly call you an average schmoe, but I get your point. You think of yourself as a normal person. I think we all do that. I am appalled by some of the comments from this previous group you were affiliated with though. Even if they did think it, saying it seems incredibly rude and would have had me looking for another group the next day.

    I don’t know if people mistake you for more shinier, funny or clever than you are, but I tend to think you don’t see that you are shiny, funny and clever. Maybe that’s the diff?

    Annie

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  14. I don’t really communicate with people on the internet that much. That’s because they don’t really exist- everyone on the internet is a computer program designed to automatically generate content in order to distract the humans from an impending Hivemind takeover.

    Hey DT!
    Yup, the Matrix lives, eh? Do you think we’re both plugged in, right now? Spooky. 😉
    Annie

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  15. What a wonderful post! I’ve met some wonderful friends online, through blogs, message boards, etc. These people have contributed to my life and enhanced it beautifully.

    I’ve also seen the negative side of meeting people online. If a person wants to trick you, they will do it whether online or in person. One medium isn’t “safer” than the other in that aspect. The same discernment we exercise online should be used in person too.

    Online or offline, people and relationships truly are the same. Some can certainly be great blessings!

    Hey Dube,
    Thanks for the kudos. I agree, you should be just as vigilant offline as on. If someone sets out to trick or decieve they can do it as easily to your face as to your computer monitor I suppose. Very good point. And so, once again – it does seem that the bottom line is that what is real, is real – regardless of where you find it, eh?

    BTW, after reading your bio – I’m gobsmacked that you even visit my humble little blog. Thanks!

    Annie

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  16. I’ve thought about this subject quite a lot Annie, the reality that virtual reality has become so much more. You’re right communication is communication, and for like minded people,
    writers in particular, we are always willing to communicate through writing. And yes, I’ve
    spoken to people on the phone who live in
    countries I will probsbly never visit, this to
    me is amazing and wonderful! The writers
    that I have exchanged emails with for over
    a long period of time are precious to m.
    Also, I feel we, humans, connect through our
    spirits and some spirits reach out to each other,
    almost as if the person inside, regardless
    of their name or writing persona, knows the
    kindred soul and feels a connection.

    Hey this just may be your next project, Annie.

    You know Jade, I like the point you make about writers in particular. Because honestly, what are we but communicators – that is our part and parcel so to speak. And like you, I have met some amazing, amazing people. Wonderful people who have enriched my life and so many ways. And I’m with you also on the spirit thing – I felt an instant kinship to you, for example. It’s nice when meet people that you feel ‘get’ you and you ‘get’ them, isn’t it? Always a joy.

    Oh god, my next project – aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh. I’m still recovering from the last one. We do need get together and talk shop sometime soon. Otay?

    Hugs,
    Annie

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  17. Great post on love and friendship!

    I think there is a bit ‘o evolutionary basis for it too: we evolved over hundreds of thousands of years where personal contact was the only option for communication. So reading someone’s thoughts, seeing pictures or movies … our ancient brain has no idea that we are not sitting next to someone in the ‘clan’ so to speak.

    Anyhow, thanks muchly … really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the matter!

    Well, hey Gerry – nice to see you again. Yeah, I’m with you – thanks to modern technology we really can reach and touch others at great distances – (to coin an old telephone jingle lol) It is the wave of the future. And possibly, maybe, ultimately, what will solve many of the woes of the world – because we can reach out across the world to one another might mean we can have the communication and understanding we couldn’t have not so long ago. Thanks for reading. I always enjoy your thoughts.

    Annie

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