Seems people still enjoy an engaging story, don’t they? As if the story they’re constantly making up in their own heads isn’t enough. Maybe it’s too much. Maybe reality is only subjective anyway.
What do you mean, what do I mean? About reality or subjectivity?
I mean, we share the same space in time in reasonable proximity in this vast universe and we tend to refer to this big thing we’re in as Reality. We accept and share many foundational conventions of this Reality, whether we understand them or not, like energy and mass, gravity, love, loss, and death. We share questions.
“Why?” seems to come up often.
Our individual reality is filtered and shaped by our perceptions, our experiences, and our comprehension of them, and by what we believe. But we don’t perceive, understand, or believe alike even about these fundamental things.
Imagine we sit on opposite sides of a table. Between us is a candle. Suspended above the candle flame is a stone. Describe the stone as you see it. My description will likely be different. Which of us is right?
Look into the candle flame and tell me, do you see the same light I do? Do you? If you have a rudimentary understanding of how light travels and how the human eye operates, you’ll agree the photons reaching my retina cannot be the same ones reaching yours. Same source, different rays of light. We see the same thing, yet we do not. Can you tell me the ray of light I see is the wrong one?
Our understanding and our belief about what we observe will have roots in our genetic code and in our socialization. That is, we will automatically concur about elemental components of this experience we share, up, down, table, stone, flame, but our thoughts and beliefs about it will, at best, coincide just enough to forestall argument.
Once you accept that no one else will ever perceive and believe what you do, exactly as you do, you may then consider that what we think of as Real is only a description of the world from our own point of view, discrete and unique, probably incomplete.
What’s that? Your reality? It is as subjective to me as mine is to you. Ask anybody; I’ll wait. And while you’re doing that, I’ll tell you about how deep subjectivity can go. I’ll tell you as much as I know, and I know more than most about how it was at the beginning of the story. This one.
At the beginning, the boundary wasn’t so fuzzy. Our bodies may not have been fully devoted to what was mainly a visual experience, but those early ventures down the VR rabbit hole were glimpses into a frontier vast and uncharted, a parallel universe of wide-open possibility and, for the practical dreamers, profitability. Who would not be willing to immerse themselves in such a pristine sea of potentialities, create worlds, and play in them?
The technology has since enjoyed what the ad-men of yesteryear liked to call a ‘paradigm shift’. Let me tell you about it.
Imagine your deepest, sacred attention held rapt, fully absorbed in an environment so rich and visceral, so—you’ll pardon the expression—realistic that every one of your senses is invested. When you feel your body move and react to physics you rarely, if ever, think about, your mind will barely be able to distinguish virtual experience from real. Nor will it care to do so. Even knowing at some primal level you’re engaged within a construct and won’t even be allowed to die there, it’s still real enough. The difference is inconsequential to your synapses.
Go ahead; explore the world. Explore other worlds. Go anywhere your nature leads you. Connect to any among a burgeoning constellation of hosted venues, intricately crafted realms in which to conduct real-world business and commerce, or accommodate any variety of amusements, impulses, fantasies, or perversions. Build your own world if you can afford it. It’s manageable. Make up your own rules. It doesn’t even have to be pretty. Somebody will pay to experience it.
Real is infinite, they say, and immediate and overwhelming and absolutely nothing is assured, least of all your survival. It’s flooded with sensations and emotions and prayers you didn’t even know were prayers. But it’s your story and, in it, you are the center of the universe. You are the Prime Object. The voice in your head says so.
The virtual continuum, conversely, is not infinite. Not yet anyway, but it is immediate and overwhelming and, though constrained by rules, you are still the center of the universe.
Once offered the ability to disconnect from Real and reconnect at will, most will choose to work and recreate in virtua without harboring much angst. It’s safer there, for one thing.
No one contracts disease in vee. That’s a big deal. Also, only a handful of pioneers world-wide have ever died as a direct result of a failsafe anomaly. For another, it feels Real; or so the compelling AsReal commercial presentations assert. In fact, in value-added ways you never would have expected, it’s often better than Real. Within the Nexus of All Subjective Realities, as the corporate entity refers to itself, “the possibilities are endless”. The cost is as painless and ephemeral as a soul, and as affordable.
True Believers of many faiths consider the virtual realm to be anathema. Some devout sects have demonstrated violent opposition to its existence. A few billion others have come to see it as a necessity, bordering upon a God-given Right. Some have adapted to life there exclusively. Some have had no choice.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. It’s hard not to, standing in the only reality I know and afraid for the first time in I-don’t-remember-how-many years. I don’t understand what’s happened. I don’t know whose story I’m in now.
It’s been said there are no endings, only new beginnings. I’m here to tell you, some things end. Spoiler alert: I’m looking at it.
But all of that was now.
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