“They’re like that on social media, but are they like that in real life?” “Oh, people can make that on Pinterest but not in real life.” “Nobody’s hair looks that good in real life.”
We say this kind of stuff all the time, as though there is a way access a fictitious plane of existence. The idea that things that happen online or in stories are not happening in real life is very odd to me. Maybe part of it is the fact that my generation practically lives on the social internet. I mean, I could definitely live without internet access, I have my priorities in order to a degree, but I can’t deny…it’s really useful. Need a visual for a drawing? I just search “Human spinal column”. Want to talk to your friend halfway across the country? Texting, my friends. Want to not sleep for hours on end? …. Memes. And I cannot begin to tell you the hours I have spent on baby naming websites searching for meaningful character names. I feel like there are two types of people that look at those websites, actual pregnant people, and writers. Not to mention the fact that without social media platforms, my job literally would not exist. The thoughts I have about all of this information is real, often there is tangible evidence of my involvement with it, (a drawing, a paycheck, etc.), so how is that a lesser form of reality.
Still…there is something to be said for face to face human interaction. The tangibility of the “real world”, will never lose its appeal to me. But, does that make one thing less real than another? What makes something real? Basically, we say it is. I see a notebook, tap the notebook, open it “Seems legit, this thing is real”. If I am seeing a notebook in a virtual reality program, well, I can’t touch it, the sensory experience is limited…but it’s still real. Experiences that we mediate, or create, through technology or storytelling are as genuine as the ones we consider classically real, they are just a different version on “Real Life”.