We are in a shift from passive absorption of information to consumption and distribution of information through virtual reality.
Virtual communities have existed since the beginning of the internet. Its origin being that of inter-governmental communication, the internet is fueled on interaction between multiple networks. The evolution of these communities progressed, as the internet rose in its applicability to the everyday life of the average consumer. The ability of the internet to enhance community exchange and reliable person to person communication was evident, supported by the increasing digitization of information, by the time Apple unveiled its Internet friendly Iphone, society was committed fully to creating a parallel virtual reality.
With a mobile, ever present alternative reality, personalized blog sites or profiles became increasingly more tended to. Social Media has proven to be one of the greatest influences on our virtual interaction as a population since the inception of the internet itself.
As Facebook gained popularity it sparked a trend in User Controlled Media Interaction apps that provided a much simpler form of interaction with a community, allowing for a more fluid networking structure, opening doors for numbers of strangers to follow the user and interact with their content. This emergence of interactive data sharing by the average consumer, filtered down into more basic constructs (Twitter is primarily for short written posts, Instagram is used for visual communication, Tindr is for dating*) drove the transition into light speed.
We are just now at the point where corporate interests are finding their way to control the distribution of information and insert advertisement posts in innovative ways throughout the user's “Feed”, This is achieved through pervasive methods of personal analysis based on the individual's interaction with others, google searches and general demographic projections.
These advances in consumer surveillance would not be possible without the immediate consent of the consumer, who has increasingly made it clear that they are more than willing to spectacularize their daily life in order to reap social benefits. Especially occurring in generations born into a world with the internet, most interaction with other individuals occurs within this parallel virtual reality. Identities are constructed and disseminated throughout this reality, which enables the ability of anyone with a connection to join your sphere of identification within it. This potential has led to a new sort of fame, the deep rooted dream of the american is all the more reachable through a democratic parallel community where you have ultimate control of how you are received and perceived.
The merging of these realities is constant, interaction through the virtual reality has become the leading method in which most communicate. The implications of such a drastic transformation from the natural human state of communal integration has been separated from its physicality and contained within a space we have yet to fully understand. This space is just as increasingly turning into a terrain highly controlled and influenced by its producers and funders. Mass surveillance and censorship loom amidst the rally cries of an advanced way of life on the horizon.
The convergence is happening, the self has split between here and there leaving us to question what it means to have a self that has split in two.