Here it is 1256am and I can’t sleep, yet again.  I was laying in bed and couldn’t get out of my mind the thought of actually experiencing life.

On New Year’s Eve we watched The Surrogate.  It typically isn’t a movie I would set out to watch; I’m not much for violence.  But we were at a friend’s house and this is what she had planned on watching.  I watched it.  I thought it was weird.  But other than that, I didn’t really think much about it.  It was just another Bruce Willis (type casted) movie.  But then today as I was driving around and running errands, it struck me that The Surrogate was about much more than cops chasing the bad guys and violence.

The premise that the world  has decided to live vicariously through robots while they sit holed up in their rooms connected to a computer without any REAL human contact or experience isn’t that far-fetched, is it?  I mean look at us now.  Social Media is the norm.  With the invention of the Internet, people have long since given up writing letters.  With the invention of texting on cell phones, people have just about given up all voice contact.  Heck, with the invention of lap tops and chat clients, even families have given up sitting in the same room and having face to face conversations.  They can just have a lap top sitting on their laps while the other person is in another room on another computer and they just chat via computer instead of walking to the same room as their family member to have a meaningful conversation.  When it comes to communicating, we have just about given into “Robots” and started living vicariously..haven’t we?

The idea that if we don’t like what we look like or who we are, so we will create a Robot to live our lives outside of our homes, while we hide in our rooms is pretty darn scary.  Yet, I know people do this on Facebook.  Look at the games on Facebook or Myspace.  Game like Farmville.  I am proud to say that I have NEVER played that game, and I spend a heck of alot of time on Facebook.  In Farmville, you can run your own farm..plant, harvest..yadda yadda yadda.  You can exchange “gifts” with friends to help you grow your farm.  But is this reality?  No.  You are not getting your hands in the Earth.  You are not planting anything, and you certainly aren’t reaping anything.  And those friends you are exchanging gifts with, do you even know them?  When was the last time you had a real conversation with these people?  Yet, I know people who spend HOURS of their day playing this game.

If Farmville isn’t your thing, let’s talk about World of Warcraft!  Now this may date me, but heck, let’s get real here.  I remember long before WoW was created, these Multi-User Roll Playing Internet Games were called MUDs(multi-user dungeons).  There were no pretty pictures of scenery.  There were no “avatars” that you got to create and dress.  There was no sound to these games.  It was all very simply…text.  You would hit “n” to go north and with each time you hit “n” there would be a detailed description of what you would see.  How do I know this?  Because Tracy (my husband) ran one when he was in college, and I made the  mistake of getting involved with his, and I became addicted.

As a stay at home mom, it became very easy to get addicted to these kinds of games. Heck you could be home with your kid, but talk to people from all over the world without ever living your room AND you got to live in a fantasy world and be whomever you wanted to be.  For myself, I chose this amazingly outgoing, friend, and sexy character named Kasandra.  Everyone loved her; she was popular.  She was so popular, she even had her own “night club” in the game, and players loved to come there and party.  Sounds sad, doesn’t it?  Instead of experience real life, I chose to live my life inside of this game.  Yes, my family suffered, and I won’t go into those gory details.

Now, though, these MUDs have given way to amazing graphics and an even bigger population of people.  It’s no longer just the college geeks playing these games.  It’s elementary school kids all the way up the line to older professionals.  And rather than having real adventures in their lives, they hang out in their rooms have live through their avatars eyes and have adventures in a fantasy world via the computer with people from all over the world, but it’s not real.

So, I ask again, how far-fetched is The Surrogate.

The computer and the internet have given us many advantages, and I would be the last one to disparage the computer or the use of it.  I mean, that is what pays the bills around here!  However, with advances in technology, I think we have lost a connection with the real experience of life!

Like tonight.  It was the Fiesta Bowl, and the Boise State Broncos were playing.  I happen to live in Boise, so I chose to watch and cheer on our local team.  I did not have  party or any friends over.  I did however sit and watch the game with my lap top on my lap and I left status messages cheering on my team and celebrating victory or whatever.  Silly, maybe.  But I was able to “experience” the game with my other friends from around town or even in different states that I wasn’t with.  All the while thinking how much I would have loved to have been downtown experiencing the energy of a crowd of people all celebrating with me.  I know that this is not very practical given it is a school night..so a party with the kids in the house isn’t very practical.  But this is the only time I have opted for a computer screen and my computer friends over the real thing.

I know people who have had romantic relationships with people they have never met, and it was all done on-line or via the phone.  The emotions were real, but there was no physical contact.  And who is to say that the pictures that were traded back and forth were even real.  Now with the webcams readily available, online dating has been improved some what, but I do know people who have just done the whole picture trading thing without ever meeting the person.  This isn’t truly experiencing life, and I am VERY grateful that this is an experience I DO get to experience every day with my husband.

Like in The Surrogate, real life isn’t always pretty.  It isn’t always glamorous.  We do get older.  Our physical bodies do change and may sometimes limit what we do.  Things in real life don’t always end up the way we want them to.  We fall and hurt ourselves.  When we have a car accident, we end up in pain.  In real life, when we experience things, we feel EVERYTHING….with the bad also comes the good.  Life is filled with polarity, and in order to know if you are truly experiencing life, you need to feel both of these things.

I know that sometimes it can be scary out there.  I have often wanted to hide behind a computer screen in the safety of my own home.  I know that sometimes it feels safer to have on-line friends rather than real ones.  I mean, if you disagree, you can just turn the computer off and walk away, right?  You can leave the chat room, take your toys with you and never go back to play with them again.  I guess you can do this in real life too, but it’s not as easy. It’s easier to pretend to be something completely different with people who are on a computer screen than it is with people you meet face to face.  And sometimes, I still get scared to go outside and actually meet with my friends.  What will they think of me?  Will I look fatter today than yesterday?  Do I have an ugly zit on my forehead?  What if my car is older than theirs or more worn out?  What if my house isn’t as big as theirs?  What if my job isnt’ as important as theirs?

Does any of that sound familiar?  This fear..this insecurity is what keeps us from truly experiencing life.  It’s okay to be scared, but it’s NOT okay to let fear keep us locked in our homes and afraid to have an experience.

I think that is why I love doing things like driving really fast in a race car; I get to FEEL the exhilaration of being alive!  Taking risks, any kind of risk makes you FEEL alive!  Setting goals that might scare you a bit makes you feel alive.  Striving and reaching for those goals helps you EXPERIENCE life…even if you don’t reach them.  Just don’t let not reaching your goals keep you from setting new ones and getting back out there!

Life may not always be pretty, but you always have the options to change perspective and find the beauty in it!  Maybe the beauty in it is that it is not always pretty, what do you think?

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