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Staying With Real

Staying with Reality

There's a lot of books and articles out there about the dangers of the Internet and the digital life. There may be a few about how exciting the future will be but those are overshadowed by the dire warnings. Let's add one more: the dangers of getting out of touch with reality.

We may be only in the beginning stages of losing touch with reality. When people get together, they spend their time looking down at their phone instead of across at each other. Some people spend more hours a day on the internet rather than watching TV. There is even Internet addiction. Now to add to the mix, we have some people - it sounds like mostly young men - whose only sense of reality comes from their Internet groups.

According to this article from the Guardian, some young men live most of their lives on the internet, forming their own bubble of reality. It sounds like these are disaffected young men, most likely without jobs, who just trolls around the Internet, building up their anger or laughing off at everything. Some of them think hate speech is just a joke. They think being malicious to others have no consequences because it is all a big joke. And these are guys who thought voting in Trump would be a joke.

Read that article as well as the embedded links to the Gamergate article, the Milo Yiannapoulos article and Laurie Penny's article.

And now, let's imagine what virtual reality would do. The people who feel like they are losers or are left behind may withdraw into the virtual world, further receding from reality. They might think gunning everybody would be cool or make them look like a hero. Or maybe voting in an idiot for office would be hilarious because everything is just a game. Or something even more atrocious that I haven't thought of.

We need to start training people how to think critically, to identify the truths from the falsehoods. We need to devise strategies for keeping people grounded in reality. We might need civics education or ethics instruction, outside of the religious sphere. Religion has its place but it is one kind of morals.

However we do it, we need to do it soon. We are going to be tasked with making more and more critical decisions and we can't leave it to misinformed populace.

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