Slowly but surely, the world is switching from the physical to the virtual, from work, to entertainment, to who knows where.
It seems that since the advent of computer technology, more and more of our experience of the world is virtual – we play video games, not board games, send text messages and not letters, sometimes talk over Skype instead of making an expensive journey… There are many who would say this is a bad thing, lamenting the loss of ‘reality’. It would certainly be a shame to lose out on experiences of physical objects where the essence of that experience is dependent on that object’s physicality: the feel of grass underfoot, the taste of oranges or the smell of rubber – whilst these experiences can be imitated digitally, they cannot be replicated. It is in areas where it is not essential to replicate a physical condition that virtual experience can really shine. Take an office workplace for example. Where files would once have burst at the hinges with paper documents, where costly business trips were a daily inconvenience, now our dealings are stored virtually, our calendars freed up, our green credentials improved and our working lives streamlined. Then there’s the lighter side of life; recreation. Getting the balance right between traditional pastimes and virtual activities is absolutely essential, but there is most definitely room for both of the two. Take casino gaming for example. Sometimes you want to soak in the surrounds of a fabulous old pleasure palace… and then sometimes all you really want is the thrill of the game – in which case you simply head for a virtual casino and play online casino games to get that adrenaline hit. The point we’re trying to make, is that if the thing that makes something good isn’t something physical, then why waste the planet’s resources by making it in a physical format – why should we chop down the rainforests when the joy of reading is in the meaning of the words and not the ink and paper? The switch to virtual does not mean the loss of all the physical sensations which we’ve come to hold so dear. It means we can pick and choose when we really need something to be physical, which can ultimately improve the way in which we live our lives. The virtual world isn’t a cold and soulless place. It’s a place filled with emotions – where we can express love, togetherness, support, bereavement, anger. It’s a place filled with knowledge, instantly accessible and freely shared. We never took issue with allowing books to stimulate us into states of fantastic escapism, so why should we do so with virtual technology? We will never replace the real world, but with the help of the virtual, we can develop far better and more sustainable ways of inhabiting it.