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Hyperreality Versus Virtual Reality

Updated on June 16, 2011

It is hyperreality that blurs the line between what is "real" and what is "virtual" and makes is appear "natural."

It is almost impossible today not to know about the social network Facebook. The social virtual community network was originally "invite only" and available only to college students. It is now a cultural phenomenon leading amongst social networking sites all around the globe.

There are virtual worlds today where you feel like your on another planet. These worlds go beyond your favorite video game and brings you to a hyperreality. Char Davis, creator of the virtual world, Osmose (1995), takes to to a world where light and speed are the only parameters from which references are drawn. In the experience, the participant breathes in, while the system collects data causing a change in position. This shows the illusionist depth of today's rising virtual worlds. The information creates images and shuts out the "real" world, and created a virtual world. Sounds and images are routed to the ears and eyes. With the use of data gloves one can sense the feeling of touch in the virtual world as well. Hyperreality, however is different. It includes virtual reality, yet is is not virtual reality per-se. Similar to Char Davis' virtual spaces, hyperreality creates virtual reality to be an experience in the physical reality so that virtual reality and physical reality interact with one another. The spaces provide virtual worlds that seem more convincing to those who experience it. It is hyperreality, however, that blurs the line between what is "real" and what is "virtual" and makes is appear "natural."

Imagine a virtual social network that's connected through hyperreal communication. Just puts on a head dome and immediately one is in contact with millions of avatars. We're not there yet, although today facebook members are invited to FarmVille and CafeWorld, virtual groups on Facebook that are fun ways to escape from reality. Members create an avatar and manage a farm, or go visit there friends farms. I personally perceive these applications as a waste of time. Active users spend hours in there virtual farm worlds and there realities become obsolete for the time being. It is no doubt hyperreality.

With technology today, people of the world can easily access news from friends and family through virtual communication. Such networks such as Skype, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, and specifically Facebook are today's leading networks that have changed the destiny of man-kind. Remember your best friend from grade school that you lost touch with? Well, they are most likely on facebook. Users can ask friends and send them messages, and update personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.

As an active member in the virtual world, my experience has been life changing. Virtual communication began with the simple devices like cellphones and instant messanger. Back in the day when you had to listen to that terrible noise from dial-up internet just so you could see what friends were up to. As a result today these older virtual networks pushed many people in society away from voice communication and a rise in hyperreal social networking.

The excerpt from the 2008 computer-animated science fiction film Wall-E, a story about a robot who is designed to clean up the waste covered Earth far in the future. Wall-E eventually falls in love with another robot EVE, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity. After centuries of living on a ship in microgravity passenger must rely on the ship's automated systems and have suffered severe bone loss and become extremely obese. It is key to note that the characters in this excerpt do not have human voices, but instead communicate with body language and robotic sounds.

In my experience in virtual spaces such as Skype, I spend most of my time video chatting with my sister or my friends from home or across campus just to see their existence. Like Wall-E I communicate with body language and vocal expression. In reality, my life in the virtual world is merely a collection of trash based from my experience and curiosity, like Wall-E. Wall-E has a collection of utensils and random gadgets. Though useful in some senses it makes one question how they are actually spending there time. I requests friends whom I most likely will not talk to, giving them the pleasure of there own curious minds to check out what ever I am posting, checking out my latest pictures, or wish me a happy birthday on the given day. Besides the obvious that I know them through association, or from school, the only thing I have in common with my "friends" is that we are all on facebook, and are connected face to face, abstracted by a screen.

Looking into the future, one might foresee what is ahead for the virtual world and society. My grandparents are still trying to learn how to add contacts in their cellphones, which seems like a simple task. Older generations may not be in touch with these new realities, however, those who venture out for exploration find gratitude. All I know for sure is that being in a time where virtual worlds are a main source of communication is a privilege in itself.


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    • Mike McMinn profile image

      Mike McMinn 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Have you read the book Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, it takes you right to a point in time when the subject you've touched on is common place. It was a really good read as well. I got some really good insights from this book.