Sex and Love Online
There is no "virtual reality." From the perspective of daily experience, life is never "almost," or "nearly," real. Fantasies and imaginings are titillating experiences whether they are fueled by literature, the cinema, or an online forum. And yet, every day, someone writes another article about the glories of the new "virtual reality" as if experience came in degrees that could be measured against some external yardstick of the real. Crash a plane in a computerized flight program and the crash does nothing but end the sequence, perhaps with the message: "Try again, ace?" There is nothing "virtual" about such programs, their distance from experience is manifest and absolute. Crash a plane in the real world of passenger-carrying airplanes and there is only the sound of explosion, of crumpling metal and screaming people.
Reality is what happens to us as individuals and between us as a people. Fantasy is a means by which we work out the problems of our physical and emotional lives. These tools can be extremely powerful vehicles for understanding life's events. But that does not mean they approximate, equal or replace the lived reality that is our world. No matter how life-like or sophisticated a program may be, simulations are never more than shadowy approximations of the real. Even the most realistic movie or the most compelling book, early forms of "virtual reality," only inform but do not alter or replace the experience of mundane experience. Despite its popularity, the term "virtual reality" does