Still some people think the virtual world (e.g. the Net) is the most ineffective way of existence, of spending one's life, as opposed to the real world, where a sea of virtual shit is gulped per second by the hordes of on-the-wheels mortgage paying weed-only smoking parents staring TVs, plenty of them intellectuals (having time to think about the reality). This is probably due to a too coarse look over the humanist reality. As if it ever were possible to live exclusively in one of these states: virtual or real.
Here's a rather different, if not opposite, perspective: there seem to be 3 levels of reality in the modern world, from the virtual to the real, and the most effective way of changing/living in the reality is to study it virtually. Any physical model is a virtual world, and it's painstaking to make it a reality, but when that's done, the reality changes lastingly, and yes, alas, some can afford to stay stupid (imagine the military and the buttons they can press, imagine the managers and the click-OK software they use) with dire consequences.
The basic level is what I would call
the environment level, gathering/producing food, building shelters, extracting/using resources etc. That is the basic reality, it's the nature, you can't talk it into
white is black whenever that suits me, unless you're a well-trained buddhist.
The intermediate level is what I would call
the city reality, where plenty of people are delegated to administer resources and conflicts, to study easier ways of handling the basic, the most inert to humans, level. Here the natural reality becomes twisted, if not a pseudo-reality altogether, due to two reasons: 1. you have to twist it to research it; 2. you have to twist it to talk/beat others into working for you.
Part of the research is benign, with the aim of understanding the environment and to find ways to accommodate it while living a life in dignity.
The rest of it, along with the reality twisting exploiters, is based on the assumption that it's easier to exploit others' work than doing it yourself, while, in fact, this assumption is only time consuming for the one who carries it: it has the result of decreasing the quality of life for those who are exploited and therefore for those who live by this assumption
among the exploited, because, ultimately, we inhabit together the earth.
This misguided bunch of fools, the exploiters, tries continuously to refine the ways of exploiting others, and one of their big hits in the modern world is the media; for example, while in the '60 the TV was seen as a chance for education at a distance, a world saver, today it has become a powerful tool for making the folk stupid and submissive, because it's read-only/listen-only, you can't reply without competing with those which are hypnotized already. The last time I've seen the TV as a systematic educational tool was in my communist country around the age of 14 but I've seen it, since, increasingly being used to brainwash and manipulate the watcher, into believing something or into buying something (it culminates with the TV in the capitalist systems today). This became the virtual-reality level. Now I no longer own a TV, nor a TV cable, I no longer pay these reality twisters, I no longer pay their salaries. The lack of authenticity or honesty in most of these presentations became unbearable to me.
This is the virtual world a modern human has to break out of. It's so
fake and obsolete that it hurts on the basic level.
However, I also understood that the government, that bunch of people you delegate to run a city/a country, should be mandated to inform the population which delegated them, to show the nude statistics of the activities/results in all the areas they are supposed to be involved, to explain the reasons why that or that choice has been made, which uses taxpayers' efforts. A tax-payed public-available government TV channel where administrators are invited to explain why the price of oil is up, why the tap water is bad, or why it has improved etc. A well-stuffed government blog would be also sufficient, if not better: it allows for feedback serendipity.
And here is the third level of virtuality:
the Net, i.e.
the linked, partly computable world of expression. This kind of virtuality is of the same nature as Marx's writings or (Aldous) Huxley's writings, or Einstein's writings and plenty of others' studies. All these writings were purely virtual signs, expressions of a human mind, but they affected the basic level in various, unforgettable, ways, like the socialism, the usable electricity, the trains etc. The Net is some orders of magnitude more effective than the best intellectual works of the past in acting on the basic level: not only it can make these works accessible for all,
but it makes them available for criticism, it helps creating new ones too; finally,
it makes it difficult to impossible for the reality twisters to mass-hypnotize the folk,
one has to pay a lot of slaves to twist the reality in their short-time favor. The folk uses it increasingly to communicate and to change/settle their ideas/actions about the world through this process.
The Net is an anonymous revolution which already started and will continue as long as the humans exist. Even if some stupid rich guy would like to find a way to make a population work for him, he can simulate that on a virtual world: the more refined the simulation the sooner he'll understand that exploiting other humans or the environment is a loser's type of activity, it only destroys the meaning of the aggressor's life and of those who support the aggression along the way, beyond making life miserable for the exploited.
The Net makes obsolete any institutionalization of human communication. It is the virtual core of the human reality. No group of self-appointed intellectuals will have the final sentencing authority anymore unless they authentically connect with the society, to the Net, but then that group dissolves naturally, becomes a mere convention of speech, what remains is the mindset, the attitude.
No dictatorship can be overthrown, no social action can be put on its feet without a mindset. And this is born from the communication, today it means
the Net. Not even telepathy can ever beat it.
The Net doesn't create masses, mimetic hordes: if the success of a central Net service seems to create them, be prepared to see them lost, only individuals will remain and the communication between them, the real society, made of people from anywhere.
The Net creates humans by recovering in them the culture lost with each death: the Net is relevant, with maximum effectiveness, to those who seek, it's the school tailored for each one of us, it's the library many of us dreamed of.
The Net is the social conscience. A revolution doesn't need hordes of people on the streets, doesn't need the TV, it only needs critical minds, then the rest follows. A revolution doesn't need to be named a revolution, after all: the expectations of each one of us and our daily actions, determined through communication, through the Net, have an impact,
the natural impact, upon the current society's institutions and organization. There won't be counter-revolutions and stolen revolutions, the Net (the people communicating through it) makes that impossible, meaningless.
The Net brought the organic milk and the bicycles back in Pittsburgh.
The Net makes the Time your friend.
The Net is us.