What is “real” anyway? – An essay by Extropia DaSilva

This fantastic essay by Extropia DaSilva is kindly reprinted here with her explicit permission. It makes for very good reading, and goes straight to answering the difficult question of what reality is. – Gwyn

What is ‘real’ anyway?

An essay by Extropia DaSilva.

It’s probably the question that is put to every SL resident who creates and sells products in-world. “But why should anyone want to pay for something that’s not real?” But how are we to judge what is real and what is not? That might sound like a silly question. After all, each of us was born in RL and have lived there all our lives. Surely, we must be overqualified to pass judgement on what is ‘real’? To see why this may not necessarily be so, I will describe RL as I see it right now. I’m in a garden. I see plants, shadows, blue sky… Stop. That sounds like reality, but what if I were to describe an environment in SL? I might say that I’m standing near a waterfall that cascades down past a statue of the Buddha… But here one might object and say that this does not describe the reality of SL at all. In reality, SL is not islands and waterfalls and what-have-you. SL is code; zeros and ones. Its electrons carrying information from which a computer constructs a reality. But now let’s go back and re-consider how I described RL. That description was based on what I saw, what my brain computed based on the information gathered by my senses. How would reality appear if one could step out of one’s head and view it as an objective (rather than a subjective) observer?

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