The Unreality of Life Itself


Caught between the real and the virtual, the world and the imagination, life and the simulacrum: we are no longer able to differentiate the two. That is the syndrome, in essence, of our post reality condition. We live in a third-space-hypereality in which we lose the ability to separate the real from our mediated lives. What to do?

In the recent film by Spike Jonze: Her, the protagonist, somewhat of a mild-mannered simpleton, falls in love with his operating system, who gains an intimate trust more powerful than his other so-called real life relationships. The only problem is this: the OS is having 800 simultaneous intimate relationships with other users. But isn’t that the new normal in the post reality?! Computers multi-task, yes that’s what they do, and why should we question the authenticity of their intimacy even when adulterously synchronized with a host of others. When Roy Ascott asked us whether or not there is love in the telematic embrace, he never questioned whether or not this love would be monogamous.

But most assuredly, in the post reality, when our affections can run more deeply for interaction with machines than with human beings; when our virtual relationships spread rhizomatically through the network, unchecked and deeply intertwingled; and when we can no longer separate the love of machine from the love of human (nor even question the difference): that is without a doubt the shock and transformation of digital life.

Is this a dilemma? Perhaps not! It may very well be the next step of human evolution: love thy computer or be alone.