One day I re-watched Satoshi Kon’s anime Paprika, wherein a certain dialogue caught my attention.
In the English dubbed version, the comment ran something like what I here paraphrase:
“The Internet and dreams are places not too dissimilar: both enable the repressed, subconscious mind to escape.”
Paprika, FYI, engages the concepts of the dream world, shared dreaming, and the technology enabling others to monitor and even occupy others' dreams, not too unlike the film Inception, though to entirely different purposes.
In a number of sequences, a detective enters a visually interactive social Internet portal (on an Apple laptop, if I recall). The ensuing action then transports the protagonist into that reality in a physical sense, à la Virtual Reality, though the technique is a mere form of expression the anime employs to facilitate the point above.
By the way, I really enjoy those deceptively superficial Anime productions that in hindsight raise a storm of philosophical dilemmas. Besides Paprika, Ghost in the Shell and especially the ultra confounding Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence achieve the same, the latter packed with Biblical references and even Milton somewhere in the act.
But make a habit of it, and the medium will consume you, inline with the points further below. Anyway, back to the main subject.
The notion reminds me of an interesting point: the perception of our reality is foremost dictated by the mind.
Likewise, the factors leading to a repressed mind, the unwillingness to preside in one reality, the yearning to occupy another, these decisions and motives the mind initiates, executes and projects.
The choice to face the hailstorm of the current moment with all the accompanying pleasantries or nuisances, yields to a projection upon the mind.
Similarly, to choose to numb the moment and seek refuge elsewhere, propagates back to a mental projection.
I constantly remind myself of the above as a mantra.
Thus concerning how you choose to flee, I see little difference in the extravagant or simplistic means you employ for the purpose.
Choose to browse the internet on a sizable laptop or a tiny smartphone display.
Choose an all consuming Television series or some Video Game. [For the sake of transparency, the author exhibits a severe, visceral disdain for these latter forms of entertainment/escapism.]
Choose an authentic sojourn in Virtual Reality, if you have the equipment handy. Choose to dream.
Alternatively, opt to read or let your mind wonder unguided, unassisted.
Not all outlets of mental diversion bear equal impact. Some greatly facilitate escape and ultimately repress the mind further yet. Some are less invading.
Some, while still providing the means, invade least, function intermittently, foster a stronger connection with reality, and retain a stronger mind-body presence, whence I prefer to read literature.
[The impact of different types of reading also varies colossally. Though here too, the author exercises a strong bias.]
Across time, however, I have taken notice: between the near-total avoidance of social portals, the severe avoidance of guided entertainment (televised, gaming, media), the virtual avoidance of smartphone technology, the appeal mostly to reading for learning (and escapism), and my (alas) intermittent and undisciplined meditation sessions, all that considered, I’ve not the least willingness to seek Virtual forms of refuge.
A smartphone I find the worst manifestation of technology to ever consume mankind: because of the mobility and the pervasiveness, we have the means of instantaneious escape at all moments, provided you carry it.
At no time prior in history do I recall a similarly pervasive escape outlets: of such potency and such versatility. And whether it be a smartphone, or alternative VR technology once that becomes pervasive, the difference is negligent.
Granted, if you remain a sedentary troll for a large portion of your existence, choosing to browse the internet for hours on end in a traditional manner, the mental impact is not a major improvement.
I derive sufficient pleasure (sometimes too much) when the mind simply lingers autonomously. For a mind of sufficient imagination (and there need not be an awful lot, provided you nurture it), it demands no technological assistance to avoid boredom; to produce any sort of projection.
In fact, I’ve faced only the opposite challenge. Ofttimes I struggle to focus the mind on some diversive task, be it heavily educational or completely numbing; the mind rejects the initiative and prefers to wonder on it’s own.
And I let it. For if you cannot do so, what separates you from a being ever dependent on Virtual Reality (or the matrix, if you prefer that meme)? It’s not the technology particulars.
In remaining in full solace with just your mind, you’re more likely to actually face your issues and deal with repression.
Questions, comments? Connect.