Virtual Reality

OK, maybe the title is misleading but a couple of recent instances made me stop and look at how we connect, disconnect, reconnect and unconnect. The other day I was in Bombay and stopped by to look at some flamingos at a suburban creek. A man saw us looking out and came by to see the birds. We had binoculars and he was thrilled to get a glimpse of the pink visitors. Brief minutes where strangers met and shared a few minutes of delight.

Later in the day, someone I have interacted with only virtually reached out and in the course of our interaction, I mentioned that I was in his city, He asked if I was at the said spot that morning and I replied in the affirmative. Turns out that he had spotted me on his morning ride but had shaken the thought that it could be me simply because I live in another city. As much as I remain in the shadows online, in real life, I do tend to be noticeable. Tall, short haired and in a sari makes for an unusual sight in this millennium.

A few days before, I had another strange virtual meets real meets virtual sort of moment. One of my recent acquaintances and peers from another country and I were chatting. We connected at a convention and have been in occasional contact thanks to love for a subject dear to both of us. In the course of something, I shared something I had written on another blog and turns out she had gone through the entire site and even shared about it with her teacher and friend! It was surreal to connect with a reader who already knew me and then met me but didn’t know it was that same blogger.

Took a local train and enjoyed watching quintessential Bombay sights.

These are just a couple of recent instances. Over the years, there have been others. Some spilled into conversations on a screen, others became exchanges in person. But, in all of them there is a strange kind of intimacy. I suppose that’s what social media does. Reading or seeing someone or their content makes one feel like the other person is familiar, well known. But, how much is real? What does real mean anyway?

The spread of stunning images of people, places and things that do not exist except as an imagination of machine and words that are put together to create seamless reading make me wonder what the shape of human interactions would be in the coming generations. Technological connectivity and the speed of it have been directly proportional to the depletion of actual connections, with all its tender and difficult edges. It is inevitable, this march of machines and increasingly isolated lives. I suppose it is the speed at which these changes are happening makes it difficult to pivot into such a world. Evolution of head and heart is a slow process after all. Maybe in a few generations, we might find our rate of complete adaptation will match the state of technology.

As to this post, who really wrote it?