Reality and Relationship Online

The thoughts below from Jason Dueck are specifically about and inspired by Ready Player One, but they apply well to our current technologically-mediated interactions too.

Online relationships are capable of being real ones; they just face a lot more barriers. Aech is one of the handful of people Parzival trusts in the whole OASIS; they spend years pouring over possible solutions to the challenge together and he still doesn’t know a single thing about her physical identity. But her appearance doesn’t matter to him; it’s the trust they’ve built that does.

The foundation of Parzival’s friendship with Aech is very different to the one for his unfounded affection for Art3mis—the former is a healthy relationship that required time and vulnerability. Our humanity makes us flawed beings, incapable of the perfection that the OASIS simulates. Art3mis knows this better than anyone, understanding that Parzival’s affection is only toward the parts of her she amplified in the OASIS, not her real identity.

If we have complete control over how others see us, we lose the imperfections that make us human.

A person is more than the sum of their parts. We should never let one flaw, strength, attribute, or quality define our identity, but having the self-awareness to recognize our weaknesses will always benefit our self-image and how others see us. It’s with that self-awareness that we can choose to be vulnerable with others, admitting our weaknesses and hoping we will be accepted.

If we have complete control over how others see us, like in the OASIS, we lose the imperfections that make us human. We become nothing more than avatars of ourselves, an artificial humanity that can no more love itself than it could accept the love of someone else.

Whether it’s online or in the real world, I prefer to strive for relationships like Aech and Parzival’s. Theirs is built on a foundation of truth that will last. If we believe we can have a real relationship with someone when we don’t let them know us, we’ll find that it’s not an OASIS that awaits us, but a mirage.

Click through to read the rest of the post that the above is taken from. See also the numerous experts that IO9 interviewed about the plausibility of the VR technology depicted in Ready Player One.

 

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