Virtual vs. real: Line blurring

William Gibson – the one-time science fiction author who now writes about the present and coined "cyberspace" – had something to say about youth in an interview he gave Rolling Stone for the magazine's 40th anniversary issue. He said (and I think he's right) that "one of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible. The distinction between cyberspace and that which isn't cyberspace is going to be unimaginable [as it is now to many young social networkers]. When I wrote 'Neuromancer' in 1984, cyberspace already existed for some people, but they didn't spend all their time there. So cyberspace was there, and we were here. Now cyberspace is here for a lot of us, and there has become any state of relative nonconnectivity. There is where they don't have Wi-Fi." I recently heard a group of women bemoaning the fact that teens actually say they "hang out" with friends in social sites, that they can say they hang out with people who aren't even in the same room. How anti-social, they felt. Maybe if a child, out of fear or anxiety, is social networking is replacing socializing with people in "real life," maybe not if s/he is just making use of another tool for socializing with real-life friends, nearby or distant. But what do you think? Would love it if you'd post your thoughts at – or email me at Thanks!

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