Technology has advanced tremendously over the past several years. The smartphone revolution has reconstructed the very framework of our daily lives. In fact, as of January 2018, a whopping 77 percent of American adults own a smartphone, per Statista. Younger adults contribute to ownership at an even higher percentage. It’s no wonder that the smartphone, combined with the advent of the internet, is pervasive with its easy access and seemingly infinite resources. It seems reasonable for adults and children alike to continuously stare at their respective phones due to its convenience and capabilities. The internet is not reality, however. Due to its prevalence, some may view it instead as an extension of our reality, however, it could be that the internet is not an extension of reality but is rather a hyperreality.
Hyperreality is a term often linked to Postmodernism and to one of Postmodernism’s philosophers, Jean Baudrillard. By existing as a simulation, the internet seems to depict reality, blurring the lines between life and simulation. This idea applies to depictions on the internet, which is best seen in social media where the simulation of one’s online presence dictates and influences aspects of our reality. This, therefore, distorts the lines one sees between the simulation and reality.
But the fact of the matter is that the simulations of the internet are no longer simulations— the very essence of the internet has developed and become so increasingly valuable as both a societal and personal tool that it has inseparably blended into reality itself. When the internet is combined with the development of virtual reality, interactive gaming and the like, it becomes obvious that the very simulations we were once able to define and circumscribe are further rooting themselves into our lives.
Should this trend continue, it may be that our own lives will constitute of such online simulations with the online becoming our definitive reality, while our supposed actual reality fades. This same idea applies to cinema, books and other forms of media, hence simulation already constitutes pieces of our reality, despite their forms as simulations. Consequently, simulation acts as a form of hyperreality. This idea would then suggest that hyperreality has become our true reality already.
Technology and the media are redefining our ideas of reality and are blurring the boundaries between the online and real, so that much of the online has become real as a new world based on the ideals presented by simulations. This reality is constructed by what we consume and preserve. Whether we let simulations fully dictate our lives is up to us. Should we allow ourselves to fully immerse into this new form of reality, we will lose physical human interaction, independent thinking and so much more. Because media can easily be dictated and manipulated, a complete adherence to the online would limit our thought and those aspects that make us human. It could alter our relationships with one another in having online, artificial presences constitute such relationships.
Essentially, we would find ourselves surrounded by artificial presences and uniform mindsets through our exposure to ideas circumscribed by the technological developments we so craved. Here, the new reality domineers our choices as well as our liberty. Whether we let our creations control us is then our own decision.