[The following is written by Marge Innoverra and is re-printed with her permission. I loved it!]
By now we are supremely tired of Weinergate, aren’t we? I bring it up only to point to a trend in our culture that I’ve only just become aware of. Watching the Bill Maher show last week on HBO, I heard Bill and a female guest read the texts that passed between Anthony Weiner and a woman in Las Vegas who were clearly, graphically engaged in sex via an electronic device (Cell phone? Facebook? Twitter?). How is it, I wondered, that someone chooses to have sex with another person who is not even in the same room? How is it that so many people are having virtual sex instead of the real thing?
I am a late comer to the virtual scene. I learned only recently that some people become engrossed for hours in Internet porn while their partners languish alone in bed, waiting for their return. Don’t they know that these flickering images on the computer are not real? They do not see you, you cannot touch them, they do not care about you. What is their attraction and why is it so powerful? How does a virtual world become preferable to a real world? Do we even know what is reality?
It seems to me that to know reality in all its guises, one has to accept the good together with the not so good. It’s easy to embrace reality when everything is going our way, when we’re flying high and getting what we want. But when nothing works, we’re feeling abandoned and betrayed, then reality bites. It’s too overwhelming to feel, so we go unconscious. We may have thought we wanted to be real, but it turns out we only wanted reality lite. Perhaps it’s then that a virtual world looks better and better.
You might think from what I have written that I actually know something about reality. Not necessarily. My teachers say that mostly we don’t know reality; we just have our ideas of what it is. Do you understand this? I don’t think I do. Oh, I have some ideas about what they might mean, such as we see only what we want to see; and if we don’t like what we see, then it doesn’t exist for us; so in this way we can create a world that makes sense to us, that is comforting and non-threatening, that gives us the illusion of safety and security. But that sounds like another version of virtual reality, doesn’t it? Possibly a more subtle version.
I could ask my teachers what they mean but I know what they will say: “You must discover what’s true for you, Marge. You might start by stopping trying to figure it out. Just be. Experience what is. In this way you can learn to discriminate reality from a mental construct.” This just boggles my mind. I guess that’s the point.