|VIRTUAL vs REAL WORLD|
One of the limitations of the real world is that a person is limited to being one person in one place at one time. Virtual worlds offer the promise of escaping those constraints of personality and of place and time. The list of the ten top reasons why the real world is inferior to virtual worlds, provided in Figure 2, is somewhat whimsical. However, it highlights some of the ways in which the real world can be enhanced as it is supplemented by those virtual worlds.
No matter how four-dimensional we make our media, however, we must clearly distinguish between the Real World and our various Virtual Worlds. The Real World is not simply another channel. Why bother with Virtual Worlds at all, if all they can manage at best is an imperfect simulation of the Real World? The "ten top reasons", mentioned tongue-in-cheekily above, give a sense of the attraction of virtual worlds. Virtual Worlds enable us to escape the constraints of personality, space and time.
However attractive virtual worlds are, we must keep constantly in mind that time spent in virtual worlds is time not spent in the real world. Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Nature very democratically allots us our conception-day gift of "three score and ten years". We must be very careful in maintaining a balance between 'life" time spent in the Real World and in various Virtual Worlds. Some of my contemporaries found, in the 1960s, the Virtual Worlds of Potland and Cokeland so enticing that they never came back to the Real World. Young people in the 1990s have the additional enticements of Virtual Worlds in video- and computer-based media to deal with. They offer wonderful supplements to the Real World but should not supplant it. The virtual world of dreams also provides entertainment and enlightenment, but we have to wake up and face the Real World in the morning.
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