On my recent 17-day trip to Hawaii I decided that I was going to completely disconnect from the internet and from emails; unfortunately for me the emails did not disconnect from my inbox and continued to pour in each day, until, once home and having turned the computer back on, I was horrified to see that I had over 600 emails with which to contend!
I know some people for whom such a disconnection would be unthinkable, as if to disconnect from the internet is synonymous with pulling the life-support plug on a loved one. Computers and the internet now afford us the ability to live a virtual life online, a life that we can construct to our liking. The definition given in the dictionary for the word ‘virtual’ is: “Almost or nearly as described, but not completely”. Therefore, ‘virtual’ equates to: Almost, but not really. Like it or not, virtual reality on the internet is not reality! A ‘virtual reality’ allows us to construct reality to our own tastes; what better definition of narcissism could there be? The problem with narcissism is that, eventually, we come to find that we are not sufficient for our own happiness.
People sometimes wonder, “How can I turn my life around? How can I find some happiness?” Ironically, the way is not by paying more attention to ourselves and our happiness, but less. When we take focus off of ourselves and pour that focus into providing some happiness for others, we loosen our grip on our inner desperation; often one day one is suddenly ambushed by the realization “I’m happy!” which realization is almost always followed by the question, “How did that happen?”
Focusing on helping happiness to be in the lives of others does not mean that we have to take a no-holds-barred Mother Theresa-approach to dealing with others. How about simply looking up when we pass others in the street and saying “Good morning!” How about taking a moment to call someone we know to live alone and asking “How are you today?” How about paying for the coffee for the person in the line behind you? I suspect that the more involved we become in real reality (what a comment on the state of things that one now needs to differentiate the word ‘reality’ this way!) the less need we will feel to lose ourselves in virtual reality… that ‘reality’ that is almost, but not really.