When we get pulled into the world of virtual reality, making the computer a home within our home, it's complete immersion. Maia Szalavitz, author of "A Virtual Life," warns us that we may become so engrossed in the computer world that we forget that itís not real. The constant flow of the data stream, she comments, is totally all-encompassing. Then, when we finally return to reality, it can be a bit of a rude awakening. Oftentimes real life is tough, so we go to the comparatively secluded world of the Internet. Itís sort of like a shelter, the Internet is, from everyday hassles. She makes a good point: "I find myself shyer, more circumspect, more anxious. Or, conversely, when suddenly confronted with real live humans, I get manic, speak too much, interruptĒ (Clark 499). This applies to many of us, especially if we have a job that is computer-oriented or that requires frequent use of the machines. By the time we manage to break free from the computerís stranglehold, we are forced to face a reality that is not always very pleasant. Admittedly it is hard to have to accept reality sometimes, but itís infinitely harder to try to live life without human interaction.
While the online life may often be a nice place to get away from the hassles, it doesn't always show up as we expect it to. The Internet can be like a big, friendly dog, or it can be like a lion stalking its prey. While we're tempted to say that life is the lion and we are the prey, it's not true. Thankfully, just because we might believe that the world is out to get us, it often isn't. The online life is a good place to go, provided you donít stay for too long. It's a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there; everything in moderation, right? Perhaps we ought to take life in moderation, too. As Szalavitz puts it, "I click on the modem, the once-grating sound of the connection now as pleasant as my favorite tune. I enter my password. The real world disappears" (500). And itís fine to get away from it all, lest we go stir crazy. It's not the Internet that has problems, it's the people who use it. And oftentimes, the ones who abuse it are the same ones who originally went there to get away from it all.