Virtual Reality: Defining Identity or Loosing It?

October 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm 2 comments

Facebook, Twitter, blogging, msn, flickr, AOL…I guess are a few of many ways we proceed our daily virtual social networking today. I spend much time wondering about all of these and how they came to be. I am not a computer engineer or expert of any kind in this particular field but I have grown up in a period of twenty years where technology has changed drastically and is, for me at least, very demanding to stay updated with.

The first time I ever saw and used a computer I must have been six years old I have vague memories of Windows 3.1. I remember playing games and using the software games such as solitaire and minesweeper. From then and following on I became familiar with Nintendo Game (the Donkey Kong game!) and later, more advanced systems such as SEGA (Alex Kidd was really cool) and Super Nintendo.

During the 90’s it was common to own video games and the kids would visit each other to hang around the TV, for hours, playing together.

Late in the decade I had friends, mostly boys, who were becoming more into computer games and the internet was also something most people who owned a computer would have by then (i remember the dialing tone from the modem when you connected and waiting for it to connect). My friends introduced me to a new world of virtual reality: e-mails and “chatting” with on mIRC and they could burn CD’s of music that they liked. They helped me set it all up and I was sucked into it! I soon became an expert in mIRCing, hotmailing, burning and other computer stuff. More than once I joined LAN’s where we would all bring our computers and connect them together in one big network and play games like CS (Counter Strike). Still, for me, the most exciting part was to physically meet up and hang out with all my friends for 25hours in one go without sleep. At some point little gadgets, micro machines, with virtual babies or animals to feed became a big hit. I owned a Tamatgotchi! I also remember the release of Msn Messenger.

Most of my friends were up-to-date with the technology while our parents were still behind wondering what this was all about. A whole new world had opened up and internet, new and updated software as well as high tech video games are now all integrated in the modern society. Despite the knowledge the last two decades have brought and how I embrace this development I always keep wondering what you do if you do not wish to keep up with the development? We have all these tools to make ourselves more available. We can inform, share, design, develop and work faster than ever before. We can shop online, we can create family albums online, we can use our phones to read e-mails, check the weather and Facebook can tell you what your neighbor had for dinner and watched on TV after. We live in a society where we seek fast and effective solutions, as well as a need for self-exposure has developed. Not only is it visible through web networking but also through other media channels such as TV, newspapers and magazines. Reality shows, for instance.

I’ve been told by a wise person that certain big cities that are known for high technological development and focus on effectiveness and production, have seen a drastic increase in individual-mindedness. Family is less a priority than business, work and career. The family has become one or two individuals. I keep asking myself if this really is a development we should see coming? And should we feel threatened by it? For me, living in a big city like London, I daily see individuals who compromise living near their families to pursue a career. I am one of them. I am here because I think about me, what I wish to do with my life. I talk to my family and friends on Skype now and then. It would not be a concern of mine to focus on a future career rather than creating a family and reproducing.

Has our dependency in virtual networking and self-exposure become a tool we use in a process of working against our own ego-centered claim? I believe that human beings, from nature, seek to belong in groups. But we seem to be in a place where we are wanting to work against that. But I am not sure if this is what we really feel comfortable about, yet. I think that all the ways we find to stay in contact and expand our networks are all reactions to our constant battle for defining ourselves and our identity as independent individuals. We want to be acknowledged and seen in what we do, who we are, where we are, what we wear, what we eat and who we partied with last night. You can order your dinner online and watch TV online while you eat it.

This is the reality of my life and where I live now. I have signed off Facebook and feel proud (it is actually a ridiculous thing to feel proud off). That’s because I realize that I don’t need it. I don’t want to be accessible or make myself accessible 24hrs a day. My closest friends and family still contact me and visit me and vice versa. People look at me like I come from another planet when I “reveal” that I am not Facebooking. Apparently I am missing out on something but I do not feel like I am. Do you have tobe online to be up-to-date? Do you have to have internet-banking? Do we have as much freedom as we think we do?

I think that I and many others, specially young people, share one big weakness in common. Very often my friends comment that they feel uncomfortable when they are on their own. Myself, I find it quite frightening to shut off my Mac, the TV and my iPhone and “disappear”. It makes me feel lonely because I am detached from the world all of a sudden.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

New experiences A sustainable future?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anngemin  |  November 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    […] but it is also being obstructed as there is no invitation to do so. In one of my first posts Virtual Reality: Defining Indentiy or Loosing It i was discussing how it seems like people in modern societies are claiming their identity but at […]

  • 2. Onie Duckey  |  June 17, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Heya! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the excellent work!


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