You drive. You zone out. You reach your destination without incident.
You attend a party and socialize. You are not present. Your mind was on something else. Your’e a big hit!
Take the red pill, you wake up to total consciousness of the world-as-such, noumenal existence behind the phenomena we experience. Take the blue pill and imagine that light waves have color, that vibrations make sounds, that other’s existences are certain, and that social relationships are more than constructed.
Cogito ergo sum, Je pense donc je suis, I think therefore I am. Of this one fact I can be certain. But all else of any existential import is uncertain. We live in social worlds. Social bonds hold no objective existence. We live with moral codes, the existence of which is likely nothing more than just another social construction. We live and we love and hate and tolerate others, but these other’s existences are not bare facts.
One could imagine a scientist with a brain in a vat. The brain gains sensations through a man-machine interface of electron-producing artificial neural circuits. The existent inhabiting the brain thinks it knows what the world is like, but is sorely mistaken as one can see.
One could inhabit a virtual world as in the Matrix or the popular anime series, Sword Art Online. The simulated worlds of these franchises are extremely complex, and therefore, one placed in these worlds without their knowledge at an early enough age will develop notions that the only real world is the simulated one they experience on a day by day basis.
Because of the fundamental uncertainty of world-existence, or the existence of the world-as-experienced, one can licitly take nothing of existence for granted. If a player in a not so distant future believes a virtual reality world is the only world, how is one to question this person? We cannot even affirm the existence of our world. Lao-Tzu, asleep, existed as a butterfly. But could the butterfly not have been the existent? and Lao-Tzu the dream? One cannot discern.
A schizophrenic fit. Voices and images. Images none can see. None of the normative homo sapiens who just happened to develop the way they did, whose social landscape decides the normal, and by consequence, delineates the abnormal. Pathology is a different vantage point, a different lens, through which to view the world. Labeling pathology is, by its very nature, a metaphysical judgment. Labeling virtual reality players who deem vr as more real than the “real” world, likewise assumes distinctions that do not hold up under scrutiny. Labeling theological visions abnormal or pathological is the same.
A sociology of MMO worlds is no less important than a sociology of the world-as-experienced-by-illicitly-labeled-normative-human-subjects, except insofar as more inhabit the latter than the former. But what of the future epoch? When we move into an ontological space no less sensibly real than our own today; one with its own virtual economy and manner of keeping oneself alive; that reality will become reality.