Why We All Prefer to Live Our Lives Online

In an age fraught with so much technology, over population and rapid development, it’s visible that people – in particular, young adults – are gradually retreating into an online life. No longer do youths choose to spend time outside, instead picking the controlled environment of a virtual environment as opposed to struggling in socially difficult surroundings. Why would they choose real life, and all of its difficulties, when they can control a life so totally online?

Virtual reality offers people the opportunity to fully be in control – you can pick what game you want, you can pick what you do. In effect, it gives people who may not have had a lot of control or say in their lives, to finally be able to let off steam in a simulated environment. In an age where politics and our economy is so rapidly changing, where young people find themselves as leaves blown about by politicians’ wind, it makes sense to retreat into a space where it remains unblighted by worry, or stress.

So here it is; the streets are empty now, unemployment is at an all-time high, technology is an ever increasing branch. The temptation to create a new world, one where you can look the way you want, come across the way that you want, do what you want, is rampant. If you hate the way you look in real life, you can choose to hide your face and create a new one. You don’t need to join in with a society that has rejected you, if you can join another that will never know your real face.

The apocalypse has started – how many people shuffle along, feet dragging, unable to see the real, tangible people in front of them, their eyes glued to their phone, tablet, kindle, ipad. How many relationships see partners’ sitting in silence, eyes glued to their phones, immersed in virtual reality. How many people wither away indoors, fingers locked to controllers and remotes, rejecting the chance to create real and meaningful relationships.

If you want to release anger, you shoot at people online, you shout at the television. How many zombie films show unexplained levels of anger, glazed eyes, lack of empathy. Has someone had to repeat something to you more than once, because you have been too busy in another world. We can no longer hear real voices, or we forget to eat and drink. We become shadows of ourselves, lost in a place where we are popular, or rich, or a hero, or a cool villain.

The greatest temptation is to be someone else. Now we can become whoever, whatever we want and there is no one there to save us from ourselves. The Sims, Zelda, Farm Life, Call Of Duty, Need For Speed, Watchdogs – these are all examples where we can make decisions, can literally see ourselves unlocking new knowledge, growing, becoming better.

Yet this all comes at the sacrifice of our real selves; we learn nothing new. We fail to become heroes in real life, or villains, because we’re all too busy going through the motions. We have been cursed with the option of escape and we are all too eager to go.

Whilst we may be in a bad state now, but what will happen when technology finally reaches the level where we can use headsets to fully escape. Will we eat? Will we drink? Will we sleep? If there is an option to fully immerse ourselves, who amongst us could reject the siren call, where people connect on the internet in a place where we can appear as a real person, beautiful, or mysterious.

The question is: who would be left to save humanity when humanity has chosen to create their own world somewhere else?

words by Hayley Freeston

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