Friday, February 15, 2013

Cyberspace Doesn't Exist


"Perhaps the heart of this confusion is our insistence that the Internet is a there, that it is a place. We never referred to the space between my mailbox and my friend’s mailbox as a place (letterspace?). Letters were in transit. They were in trucks or on trains, but they were not in a place. When I wrote a letter, I was not entering a “letter world.” Similarly, when I watched TV, an inherently nonparticipatory act, I was still in my living room, not in some strange place between my home and the cable company. But when it comes to the Internet, we talk about entering cyberspace, a space that is really no “place” at all. We insist that when we participate in an online forum or take on a character in an Internet-based video game, we are present somewhere and somehow. We take our sense of self, our sense of presence, and transport it into the ethereal world of bits and bytes. Suddenly we are here and there, at a desk in body but in soul or spirit somehow present in cyberspace. And this is new to us, new to the human experience. When we venture into this world, this mediated world, we leave our bodies behind. And more and more of us are finding that we actually like it this way, that being able to experience a space free from the limitations of real presence brings a kind of joy.
Cyberspace has given us a new way of understanding the relationship of life and being to our flesh-and-blood bodies. We now see cyberspace as a place but also as a state of being. Cyberspace gives us a place to be ourselves apart from our bodies. And in many cases the draw is irresistible. Often, we are led to view this as a superior alternative to the real world. Why? Because it is a place that allows us to break free of the limits of our bodies and our God-given circumstances."

Tim Challies: The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digitial Explosion