What’s your virtuality?

virtuality 1. (Computer Science) virtual reality

The day my new French door refrigerator arrived, I immediately called my husband at work.

kelly-ripa“Listen, don’t take this the wrong way, but…” I paused to caress one of the six 5-gallon size door bins. “I love this new refrigerator so much that I’m divorcing you so I can marry it.”

He chuckled, expressed his best wishes for my happiness and said he had work to do.

At the time my stupid little remark didn’t have much merit, but the other day I saw the new Spike Jonze movie “Her,” a story about a man who falls in love with and dates his new operating system. By dates I mean Sunday strolls, outings with other couples and intimacy. Yup, there’s even a sex scene.

Watching a grown man doing all of the above with a device resembling a smartphone left me concerned. Mainly because the world we currently live in provides a perfect foundation for the technology-exaggerated world portrayed in this film.  A prime example is the way tied to our cell phones, the gadget almost as necessary for our survival as a vital organ. If it gets lost, aren’t we’re one step away from putting a photo on the back of a milk carton?

 Missing: First generation iPhone 5, last seen wearing a leopard case cover.511lep01-spl-b_2

You probably don’t have to think to hard to imagine this scene: A family of four goes out to a restaurant. Mom, Dad and their two teenage children sit at the same table, their shoulders hunched like a praying mantis family while each one is focused on their phones. In my own home,  this same scenario is played out while we gather together to watch television after dinner. Questions directed to each other are often met with a grunt or a confused “What? Did you say something to me?” because we’re submerged in reading Tumbler posts or Candy Crush (guilty as charged).

As a writer, my daily life revolves around an empty house; my only companions are two dogs and my computer. My virtual world allows me to travel the globe, network or talk shop with other writers, agents and publishers. I visit friends in Australia, Scotland, England, Ghana, nearly half of the fifty states and God only knows where else. While I’ve never met these people, they “feel” like friends, no less than the other people I know in the flesh. All thanks to the world wide web.

The messages in the Spike Jonze film seem multi-layered, although I wonder if he simply wanted to show us how it is possible to take technology a step too far. Maybe several steps to far. In a way, it made me long for the simplicity we had in our lives before technology took over, although I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t love the power I have at my fingertips.

In case you’re wondering, I’m still married to my husband. The thrill of the refrigerator has worn off. I mean, he’s a nice fridge, but lacking in any real substance.

Do you have a hybrid existence, where one foot is planted in the real world and the other in a virtual world? 


19 responses to “What’s your virtuality?

  1. Our dining room table is currently covered. Two computers, mine and my husband’s, and a pile of paperwork and other “necessities” beside each. To dine at the thing we’d have to actually clean it off. So what do we do? We each take our plates and go off into our own little world. When we actually DO sit down together (on the weekends, we go out to eat and we don’t bring phones), we sometimes aren’t sure what to say to each other. Conversation usually gets rolling slowly. So, yup, that’s us, too at night. Our youngest (13, going on 14 in a couple of months) only comes out of his room for food or if there’s something more interesting on our tv than on his. :/

    But I too have made a ton of friends I would never have made without my connection to the internet, some of whom I consider close friends, despite that technically, I’ve never met them.

    That movie. I have to admit I’m torn on that one. It seems very odd to me. The idea of a love scene now has me intrigued though, in a very “how the heck does that even work?” kind of way. Was it a good movie? Worth seeing?

    Excellent topic, Sharon!

    • Thanks, Joanne! In some ways, on those awkward dinner moments, the phones actually can stimulate conversation. We’ve googled something, then a whole conversation revolves around some fact that came up. As far as seeing the movie, I’d say yes. I couldn’t imagine how they’d do this on film, but they did, rather successfully. However, it could have been about fifteen minutes shorter for me. At 2 hours, I thought it a smidgeon long. But it was worth it because I can’t stop thinking about it…a sign of a well done film.

  2. Ha ha… Your fridge is also cold Shaz….. Brill post. x

  3. One foot in reality, one in the virtual world, head in the clouds. Yup. That’s my life.

  4. Great post, Sharon. Love the missing phone in the leopard case 🙂 Since my kids were little, I always turned off the TV, put on music, lit candles and we all had dinner together. We’d wait till 8:00 pm if we had too for my husband to get home. As they got older and more attached to their phones, it became harder and instead of a nice dinner, we’d be fighting over the phone. But in the end, I won. They are all scattered right now, but when they do come home, at least at the dinner table, no phones and they know it!

    I find I’m more guilty than my husband about watching TV and having my phone near me. Sometimes I feel like Pavlov’s dog. If I hear it go off that I got a new email or notification, I immediately pick it up, sometimes without even thinking. I need to try and stop that. I have to heed my own rules and put my phone in another room during dinner 😉

    You have me thinking about going to see “HER.” At first, I wasn’t sure, but I think I might like it. Something unique, for sure.

  5. I love your dinner routine, Debbie. We need to learn to treat those moments like they’re special and you’ve succeeded! As far as the Pavlov’s dog reaction, what can I say except “Woof, woof.” I hear you. If you see the movie, let me know what you think.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. My husband and I are each probably one of the few people left on the planet without a smartphone. We do just fine with very basic cell phones. I find that after sitting at the computer all day, I have very little interest in tech gadgets. If I had kids they would probably hate me because I am sure I would ban all devices from the dinner table……

    I’ve also made new friends thanks to the Internet, some of whom I’ve met and some not. It’s like pen-pals of old only far more numerous and communications with them far more frequent. 🙂

  7. Good for you on not having a smartphone, Maura. I held out until about a year ago. I never dreamed I’d become addicted. Truly addicted. *hangs head* Admitting you have a problem is the first step…
    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  8. Like many writers, much of my life is spent on-line. Most of my co-workers live too far away to see more than once a year at a convention. I feel like my friend and publisher sits beside me all day, but it’s really just the availability of him right there by phone, or by email, or IM. Even skype.

    For all its faults and foibles, distractions and detriments, the cyber world has opened up a writers world in ways that are more help than hamper, IMO. Maybe I don’t get to sit beside a golden pond for three months straight while I write the perfect prose, but I’ll never end up drowning myself out of loneliness either. 😉

  9. I love when you come visit me. Great post. Sometimes I think that technology needs to slow down so that we as people can catch up with it. It annoys me when I’m having dinner with someone and they are texting. I intentionally don’t do it.

  10. I loved this post. I often wish for those days before so much technology. Especially when the family is all together. But like you, I do love my computer.

    • That’s the beauty of a power outage. Suddenly playing cards by candle light is forced on everyone,But the second the power comes on we scatter back to our toys! Thanks for stopping by,Janie.

  11. Great post, Sharon. I admit to having withdrawal symptoms if I can’t check my phone/ipad regularly. I get very few phone calls, but love to keep up with my online friends who are on a different time to me.

  12. One foot in reality, necessitated by a large and growing family. The other in whatever novel I’m currently composing. Perfect world!

    • Lol, I hear you! A large part of my reality lies in fiction, too. Hmmm, between that and the computer world I get lost in, I’m a little concern about myself. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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