So I’m having trouble understanding my existence in the world. It almost seems as if my existence is being split up into multiple pieces, and each piece goes and dabbles or immerses itself into a “reality”. As a student, my existence currently is being spent at school. School is a world of itself; a student is taken away from their hometown and their families and plunked into a world of deadlines, worth measured by letter grades, time efficiency, productivity, and a whole new social circle that replaces the family a student presumably came from. We now live with our friends or people who are not our friends but our roommates or canmates and we essentially have to provide for ourselves (in most cases). In my case I have to buy toilet paper which is something I had never returned from the grocery store with. School is a universe of itself. And to give even more evidence for this, when I complain to my parents how stressful school can be, they reply with “just wait til you leave school and get to REAL world”. Retrospectively, this is getting me thinking. What the heck is this so-called, quote on quote, “real” world they speak of? Is University life henceforth not real, or not as real as, this other ambiguous “real” world? How does this “real” world invalidate the realness of school life?
This is a fascinating path to venture down. But let’s look at the digital.
You so often hear the term “virtual” reality, a term used to describe the digital sphere. This digital world consists of platforms on the internet such as Youtube, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter as well as online gaming, cosplay, and art communities, as well as many other communities and world and realities and platforms that exist in the vast, enigmatic myriad that is the network. I often personally am able to spend (easily) up to 5 consecutive hours on Youtube, and I know many people who have and enjoy spending many more hours on the internet, on their phone, staring at their computer screen. In fact, for a student this is the norm: online databases filled with scholarly journal articles, researching in general, and the majority of our interaction with our majors and the fields and subjects we study is spent in relation to our computer: typing notes on a word or pages file, attending online video conferences with other classes (that we wouldn’t be able to interact with easily due to our separate geographical placements), being a part of online classes, writing blogs, watching film, listening to music etc, etc, etc. Not only is the digital sphere or “virtual reality” a whole other or separate world that we can delve into, but it interacts, lends itself to and intersects with our reality. But now that the three (out of possibly the many many more) realities have been mentioned: the reality of a student living in a University setting, the reality of the “real” world one supposedly enters into upon leaving school, and the virtual reality of the digital world. If these are realities, their mere existence shows that reality in itself does not exist in the singular. If multiple realities are in existence, that goes to show that there is no one reality, but many. That reality can only exist by being plural. That there is no “one” reality but many.
Or perhaps, there is one reality and yet it exists by being split up into many different realities. It fragments itself as a puzzle would. It has many pieces, the picture itself in there, but it has been split into many, individual parts. These parts fit together, intersect and interact with each other to produce a holistic picture. Perhaps it is helpful to look at reality as if it is a puzzle.
And yes, the elephant in the room is finally being noticed. What exactly do we mean when we talk about reality? What is its precise definition? Can we associate reality with existence? Is reality, drawing on the puzzle metaphor, the individual existences of each individual human being?
to be continued