Once in a Facebook message, I told a close friend in Ecuador (Will) how glad I was that even though I was now living in Indiana, far from everyone and everything I loved, I was so thankful for the ability to utilize Facebook and Skype to continue communication with them, to which Will replied: “That [the usage of media for communication with loved ones far away] got me living in a virtual world here [Ecuador] a little and I had to rip myself out of it. It’s not real, and we’re not meant to live in it.”
The first thing I would tell Will about living in media is this: it’s real; or at least every bit as real as living outside of it. Isn’t it ironic that Will would make this comment via Facebook messaging?
In light of some recent lectures concerning reality, living in media as we know it–and life in general, for that matter–may not be real, but you cannot have one without the other. If we truly live, we live in media. To say that our lives in media are not real would be like me running into Will the next day and having no recollection of the messages we had exchanged. Was everything said in those messages fake? No. Through social media, we spoke as if we were sitting across from one another at a coffeehouse table. The conversation got very deep at times–made us feel; made us think. Were these responses also fake? They occurred in what Will would consider the “real world” but were they not a by-product of living in media. To deny the existence of our lives in media would be to deny everything that has happened in the “real” world as a result of media or something that has happened in media. I revert to a common example in class: the Arab Spring. Were the thousands of virtual protesters, hacktivists and Twitter revolutionaries fake? Did they not have some part; some effect on the results in the “real” world?
The fact is: the media is here. We use it. It cannot be denied. Will’s comment was hypocritical, in that he denied the authenticity of media life while proving precisely why it is every bit as authentic as anything he has ever said to me in person. I find it very unlikely that next time I see my friend he will be questioning me about what’s actually been going on in my life because he considers what I revealed to him via Facebook superficial.
Will also said we’re not meant to live in this virtual world. This is a different debate, but in my beliefs, I also have conflict with this statement. I don’t believe that things that “aren’t meant to be” happen. Call me what you will, but if something exists, I believe it’s there for a reason. Media is in our lives for myriad reasons, but first and foremost it has been created to be used. And even if there isn’t a reason for everything, I see no reason why anything in this world exists only to be ignored and denied–especially something like media; it was not created to be shown off and then abandoned. The more media evolves to be a part of our lives, the more we are meant to live in it.
Where there is media, there is life. Hence the term, “media life.” And that’s what it’s all about.