People in my culture spend time on Facebook, playing video games, watching youtube videos, watching movies, etc. I think reading books counts too. And listening to radio or mp3s. People engage their minds with images on a screen or page, and with sounds that come through speakers or headphones, instead of of engaging with the sounds, sights, and life forms immediately surrounding them.
Why is that? Maybe it's that these virtual realities are designed by people to capture the attention. The world immediately around us wasn't designed for that purpose. The world immediately around us is full of life forms whose purpose is to survive and reproduce -- they have their own purposes, purposes other than capturing our attention.
People decry the amount of time we spend in virtual realities. Is it bad? What's wrong with it?
We evolved to survive and reproduce. That's how we got here, but now that we are here, it's up to us how we choose to make use of the opportunity to live.
I do want to use the internet, books, and radio to connect to the world beyond my immediate surroundings. I want to use them to show me knowledge, ideas, cultures, points of view. I don't want to only take in knowledge. I want to put it out there to. I want to put my observations and ideas out there, add them to the great mix of knowledge that humans have collected.
All of that could be done in the virtual world. I could read books, and then write about conclusions I've drawn from the reading. I don't want that to be all though. I want to be alive in the world. I want to use not just my mind, but also my body -- to feel the joy of dancing and rollerblading, to feel the sunshine and the wind, to smell the ocean, to hear the birds.