WHO NEEDS REAL LIFE ?

Who needs real life when we have i-Phone Apps and social networks that can emulate most of it, and make it feel even better than reality?

On February 8th, 2011 the Catholic Church gave their approval for an i-Phone app that allows do-it-yourself confessions called “Confessions: A Roman Catholic”. We already have existing Christian i-Phone apps for “The Daily Scroll” and “The Touchwood Bible”, and there is even an app “ichristian”, where you can learn how to become a Christian, register as one and actually even get a certificate to prove that you are one. All we need now is a recording of the Lord’s Prayer plus an app for “Sermons-on-line”, and one for handling wedding vows, and no one will ever need to physically go to church, particularly if the “Bury your own Dead” app I have planned gets over the opposition from the Undertakers Association.

By Alex Tora (Own work) (GFDL or CC-BY-3.0 license), from Wikimedia Commons

I imagine that not to be left out the Chief Rabbi will now have to counter with an app for do-it-yourself circumcisions or at the least “Barmitvahs-r-us”. This would add to the Jewish i-Phone apps that already exist such as “iblessing”, which has blessings for food and other things, “siddur”, which covers prayers including morning and evening services, and even “Better Buy Au” which, for Jewish Aussies, compares prices in supermarkets and other retail stores so you can make sure that you are getting the best deal. I find this last one strange as I have always believed that being Jewish meant never having to buy anything at retail.

By Kostisl (Own work) (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

For many, social networks have taken over from the global village, the only difference is that what I say in our small village in France will have to live with me for at least 2 years, whereas what I say on Twitter or Facebook will last about 10 minutes at best. The other difference is that in real life I know that I can manage about 150 friends maximum (Dunbar’s number), whereas Facebook allows me 5000 (see “Fourth secret of success” posted November 4, 2010), which means that I can think of myself as being incredibly popular without actually ever having to physically meet anyone. You can post a photo that makes you look like the devil-may-care individual that you wish to portray, rather than someone who has been cowed and beaten down by life, or represent yourself with a photo of a Ferrari when you are actually closer to a Trabant in real life. For a long time I had a photo of my dogs on Facebook, which I have now replaced with a photo of me leaning on a fence with my head resting nonchalantly on one hand. The reality is that this pose enables my hand to pull back the skin on my face to adjust the double chin and smooth out the wrinkles at the same time.

Who needs real life when there are Avatar sites, such as IMVU where you can create your own fantasy life in 3D, and get away from the realities of a boring job and a demanding family, and where money and success are a given rather than a journey through life, and no matter what you eat or drink you can always look just like a young Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie in her teens. I haven’t joined IMVU because I couldn’t reconcile looking like a barely post-teens member of a boy band on his way to the beach or just coming back from a hard night out. I will keep looking for a fantasy world that lets me have an avatar that looks like Robert Redford when he was about 50, has the financial wisdom of George Soros and the energy of a 20 year old. After 45 years in Information Technology, I also know that there is a good chance that I will end up with an avatar that looks like George Soros, has the financial wisdom of a 20 year old, and the energy of Robert Redford who is now 75 years old.

By Kaotic.nite (Own work) (CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)), via Wikimedia Commons

By Burts (GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons

If someone could just come up with smell surround and a true-to-life touch sensor pad we would never have to leave the house ever again, and we could all forget about real life.
Just remember that as Dr Grace Augustine says in the movie Avatar “Don’t play with that. You’ll go blind.”

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8 Responses to WHO NEEDS REAL LIFE ?

  1. Roisin says:

    Entertaining as always, Les. Just to put the record straight on the confession app. It won’t absolve sins (unfortunately). It’s designed to help Catholics to examine their consciences. Absolution is still only available from a priest, in the confessional. Your Atavar joke reminds me George Bernard Shaw and a beautiful actress: She – “With your brains and my looks we could have remarkable children.” GBS – “But suppose they had your brains and my looks?”

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Roisin,
      I have to admit that I was actually aware of the fact that Catholics still had to physically see a priest for absolution, but it was just funnier if I disregarded the facts to be able to make a point. 🙂
      Les

  2. Dominic Wakefield says:

    Hi Les,
    Brilliant on the cyber christian! Is the iphone confessional a real coup or madness? Are we just old fogies out of touch with future? Knowing how my children like to learn – they love learning from the internet (guitar, internet tutors, research etc) – so why not being a christian, muslim, jew , rastafarian, – watch this space…cyber churches.
    Otherwise the facebook friends syndrome intrigues me….there is an evergrowing list of ‘friends’…but as you say there are only so many that are real friends – generally for me it is driven by geography – for instance I am slowly losing touch with the Bordeaux crowd as I don’t live their anymore. There are facebook ex girlfriends from 30 years ago – their 20 year old daughters are my ‘friends’ and I have never met them. If I was 30 years younger – perhaps I would like to meet them 🙂 !! But at what point do we refuse the invitation to be a friend without offending – it would be like meeting someone in the street and refusing to shake their hand… But does it matter – just accept & be dammed.

    • leshayman says:

      Hi Dom,
      I think that you are 100% right about us being old fogies who find this all a bit harder to fully embrace than do kids today. Social networks, mobility, phone-apps, avatars etc., are an integral, unquestioned and natural part of their lives, whereas for us they are just “add-ons” to ours.
      Like you I have “friends” on Facebook that are kids of my friends, and I find it fascinating to see what their posts cover, as these tend to be more personal than our generation would ever make public.
      For younger people the social networks have become the main means of communication, whereas for me facebook is more of a great way to stay aware of what is happening with friends that I would normally not have much contact with, whereas with close friends there is email, skype,phone and more effort for physical contact.
      I think that, as is the custom in France, you should keep shaking hands with lots of people, but only kiss a select few.
      Les

  3. Winnie Cheong says:

    Great one Les! i didn’t know about the i-christian or cyber catholics stuff – too funny. Considering how religions are bringing (or ‘hawking’?) their stuff online and making it more accessible to youths, one wonders too how long before churches becomes empty (who is to be blamed then?) . Or is it a catch 22 situation – when in rome?

    I watch with anticipation how my kids will harness the power of the internet. I remember being the ‘young punk’ when the internet first came on – if you recall, my husband proposed to me on the internet!. ah, cest la vie..

  4. leshayman says:

    Hi Winnie,
    Seems all religious groups have access to a multitude of apps that extend their reach. It is just good “marketing”, in the same way that they were early radio and TV users.
    Les

  5. PriyankaSAP says:

    Hello Les,
    I have a feeling that the social networks take you away from the real life. Gone are the days when you would actually make effort to meet someone and feel happy about it. Also, you can not refuse any invitations lest we offend the person. We need to always remember who is our real friend. It’s so far from reality. I read somewhere that if you haev 5 friends at your funeral, that means that you had a good life. I wonder how many of the so called friends on the social networks are actually close to you.
    I am not against social networks, it’s beneficial also in some ways like discovering your long-lost friends. However how real is the virtual?
    Regards,
    Priyanka

  6. leshayman says:

    Hi Priyanka,
    I think that we should not devalue true friendships just because social networks decided to tag their electronic “linkage” with the word “friend”.
    I think that the difference is that on a social network you can “make a friend” just by accepting or asking for the connection, but in real life you have to “earn a friend” by working at a human relationship.that involves time and effort. We should never confuse the two of them despite using the same word.
    Les

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