Certain canonical texts, like the Quran, claim that we are living in an artificial world, where senses and instinct can barely allow us to see, feel, and touch what the “real” world is all about. In chapter 29: verse 64, the Quran says: “What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in the Hereafter that is life indeed if they but knew.” Perhaps if there is one single hermeneutic to this verse it could be that Man’s deepest experience with this life is no longer with nature, but rather with “things” and technology. This hermeneutic represents a dialogical reality, of authenticity and travesty. In other words, at the center of this technical milieu, human conscious has become “thingified” or chosifié.
With the advent of modern technology, this dualism has been reinforced and rarely anyone has escaped this free relationship to a virtual world. But, has mankind become the new creator of a different and artificial life from the one meant in the canonical texts? If by creation we mean reconstruction of a substance or a being then the answer is yes, because technology makes us pretend to be and have a different veracity. Facebook and video games remain glaring examples here. Millions of Internet or “MUDs” users interact in a virtual interface, using a pseudo-identity in which you can play a role as close or as far away from your “real self” as you choose. Things one has never had in “real” life from medieval fantasy to playing in Real Madrid soccer team, technology constructs whatever captures one’s imagination, both by playing a role and by participating in building a world.
In the same line of thought, social networking captures this essence of withdrawal to a world that reduces nature to a set of manipulable powers. It presents an attempt to make the human image appears more elastic than what physical presence suggests. It simply leaves behind what you are and makes all things new. In other words, it allows you to imagine yourself anywhere in the world at any time, doing anything or just about anything. So, there is an unparalleled opportunity to play with one’s identity and to “try out” new ones in that the latter becomes not so much an alternative but a parallel life.
This life, emptied of old meaning and enlivened with a new one—any psychotherapeutical meaning you can find—to witness the death of events, of memory, of unresolved personal issues and more generally, of the nature of self. The same dialogical emptiness and representation of reality could be projected on the painter and cameraman. While the former maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the latter “penetrates deeply into its web”. Yet, there is a tremendous difference between the pictures they obtain. (Benjamin, 14)
While the essence of “amusement” and “play”, as illustrated above, could be reproduced in video games, social media, painting, etc. The very notion of an inner, “true self” is called into question.