First of all, I'm a huge fan of your site, and I'd like to thank you for being such an amazing, kind and wise person! Keep it up!
Now, I'm not here to complain about my issues since I'm proud to say that I'm really happy with myself and will continue to be happy! Thanks both to your knowledge and positivity and my efforts! I'm only here to share my view on why there's so much sadness in this "modern", "advanced" world and how realising this changed me for the better and rescued me out of a vicious circle of self-pity, anxiety and sadness.
I'll try to keep this short, and I'm sorry since English isn't my native language so sorry if it sounds weird.
So, everyone keeps bragging about how the world today is so "advanced" and "modern" and how science is this aaaamaaaazing thing that is only improving our lives and will continue to do so. But that, of course is not the case at all because, how I see it, science hasn't really solved any problems or made our lives "better" by any means, it only replaced previous issues with twice the time as many worse ones. Science didn't make us better, happier and compassionate... It only did the contrary.
Science doesn't "improve" our lives, it actively replaces our real, natural lives and experiences with simulation, replicas and failed attempts to surpass nature. In it's delusions of grandeur, science is shortsighted... It creates and invents more and more, always focusing on how it will "make the world better" but never on how these Inventions could be used for evil, or how they could backfire in the long run and destroy people's lives and so many other side negative side effects... Just because something can be invented, doesn't mean it HAS to be invented. Science invents things for the sake of it, always under the pretense that it will improve the world, while being blind to the counter effects.
This talk about science matters because science has removed all real life activities and experience with replicas and simulation of said activities and experiences. There is no more need for exploration, risk, real thrill, challenge... All is replaced and packaged into the virtual existence, or heavily roboticised and automated.
Why go outside and explore nature when, on a click of a button, you can immerse yourself into many virtual, idealised worlds without having to go into the real, "dangerous" world? Why go to concerts and enjoy a good time with your friends when you can simply listen to music on your phone, computer or TV, in the safety of your own home? Why indulge in dangerous, tiresome sport activities when you can play sport games or watch other people do sports, all the while eating snacks and not breaking a sweat? Why travel and see the world in all its beauty when you can watch other people travel on travel shows or just open up Google Earth? Not to go on any further, you get the point.
Science created a world free of challenge, risk, no major problems, everything made easier, everything made readily accessible... Served on a silver plate, all the while eliminating the need to even leave your house and socialize. You can do all those things, and many people thankfully still do, but that number is rapidly decreasing...
It is so horrible that we are allowed, in many ways forced, to live such sheltered, passive lives. "Lead" is not a proper word, "watch" or "observe" is more suitable. A life where nature and reality, failure and experience and all the great things that make life are made "obsolete" by the virtual, the packaged replica... In which there is no real consequence, no real failure, no thrill... no love. Most activities replaced by video games, relationships and romance replaced with over-idealised, readily available porn/anime/hentai (all of which replace the need and the want for real sex, because it's so "perfect" compared to the real deal and seriously skews the expectations of what people should be), real socialisation replaced by "social" media, real comedy, parody and jokes replaced by "memes" which bleed the humor dry, real labour replaced by machines and automatic processes.... Real reality, with all it's flaws and beauty, replaced by safer, risk free artificial copies that are more easy to access and provide no real repercussions to failing, which is necessary for growth. I do not live in the "first world", but this especially applies to it.
All of this combined, you get sheltered, deeply unhappy people with very unrealistic expectations due to overwhelming exposure to over-idealised fake reality, and with insufficient failure and experience from said failure due to resorting to risk-free alternatives, the same people, when faced with real problems or when comparing their own lives to that of a idealised ones they see in games, TV, anime, whatever, they start to feel empty, insufficient, "not good enough"... But overexposure to the fake world and insufficient exposure to the real world make those people not realise the difference between one and the other... I was one of those people, always depressed and anxious, ever sheltered and passive, always escaping to the virtual world in which I don't have to put any real effort or face real pain from failure... Always comparing my life to over-idealised ones I saw on social media, in film, games and anime and always thinking how I'm not nearly as "good enough", because due to not enough experience in the real world, I projected the picture perfect things I saw in the virtual to real life people which were only perfect on the surface. Many people do this, unfortunately... It was always like that until I got a grip on life, and on risk, and failure and grew stronger from it and realised that I'm not as weak and "useless" as I had thought and that other people weren't as perfect or as happy as I thought. That was all due to my skewed perception of what life is supposed to be, and what love is supposed to be, heavily skewed by porn, anime and other media, which is why I view anime and porn as especially dangerous due to the fact that it can skew expectations tremendously... Especially to the inexperienced youth. Another thing are the artificial and unrealistic beauty standards that come from western media that is especially troublesome and dangerous... Many people have gone insane with anger, bitterness and pity over them, but that's all just fantasy and NO ONE can achieve those standards. It just isn't realistic... I thought I was "ugly" all the time and constantly saw other people do the same, and even now they do... Thankfully, I saw through the bullshit and am much happier now!
I'm sorry for my English, I might have forgotten to mention many of the things I wanted to, but I hope this makes enough sense. I see that the people in the west, especially the USA, live such lives with unrealistic goals and expectations provided by society and further abused by consumerism. Am I correct on that?
I'm just so afraid of what's going to happen to the world, science isn't going to stop anytime soon... It is a sad world in which the human experience is made obsolete by artificial, picture perfect virtual worlds. All of life packaged safely in a magical rectangle, all the knowledge in the world contained inside our devices, all at a click of a button, all in the safety and comfort of our homes... But science can never replace nature, a copy can never surpass the original... We are paying dearly for not realising that, aren't we? The spiritual made obsolete by the material...
Thank you for reading, Papa Bear!
Theo (age 19)
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Thank you for your intelligent and well-thought-out letter. Your English is quite excellent, by the way, thanks to European education (you don't say what country you are native to, but pretty much all European countries excel over the USA's pathetic public schools). On to your question/statements....
My two initial reactions are: 1) it is dangerous to generalize about anything as being "all bad" or "all good," and that includes science; and 2) it sounds like your main concern is with virtual reality, the internet, and the media (TV and movies) giving a false impression of reality and depriving people of exposure to the real world, which leads to unrealistic expectations about life. Let's address these two issues.
Science is both good and bad. Medical science, for example, has come a long way in treating previously incurable or untreatable injuries and diseases. Physics, biology, astronomy, mathematics, etc. are teaching us the true nature of reality, which has helped explain the world in ways where religion has utterly failed. Science can solve problems such as how to deal with climate change and pollution (it's only politics and greed that get in the way). Yes, science can give us bad things, too, such as plastic waste and nuclear warheads. That's true with everything, though. There is always good and bad. Don't blame science; blame the people who use science for ill.
Going into the specific area of science and technology that you are complaining about: the way it creates a world that protects us from the real world. This can include everything from the internet to living in climate-controlled houses and cars. Yes, science has separated us from nature in many ways, as well as from social interaction. Religion does this, too, if you haven't noticed. Religions such as Christianity teach us that nature is "bad" and only heaven is good (which results in mankind treating nature like garbage), and it keeps us from understanding other people through mistrust.
But, back to science. Let's focus on virtual worlds and social media and movies and such. What you say is, often, very true. I've seen people get immersed in gaming, for example, as a way to hide from a difficult world. It is far easier to be Zardok the Savior of the Fifth Realm than to be Edmund Peebles of Tiny Town, Iowa, who can't hold down a job at the local McDonald's. Likewise, with porn (and this is a huge reason why many furries are into furporn, I believe), it is more fun (and stress-relieving) to pretend you are a well-endowed muscle wolf who can ejaculate 10 gallons of spoo from your 5-foot-long penis than it is to be a lonely 20-year-old who is too nervous to ask a girl on a date because he is terrified that if it leads to sex he will be too nervous or awkward to perform. The fursona aspect of it is a way of wearing a mask--not to conceal your identity so much as to relieve the anxiety and tension that arises if one were to reveal one's true self, which leaves you exposed to being judged by others, and if there is one thing most people crave it is positive validation, not criticism.
Yes, movies, television, RPGs, and even comic books take us to fantasy worlds that are not realistic. This can be a lot of fun, but it is also very limiting. Let's go back to furporn for a second. While one can be a sexy furry with many partners online, the stimulus here is limited to the visual and the auditory. Compared to real-world sex, you miss out on all the other senses: touch, smell, and taste. And so, you are only getting about 40% of an actual sexual experience. I, for one, would much rather have the real thing than sit and watch a naughty furry animation.
The same is true with experiencing nature. Yes, you can take virtual trips online or watch a travel show on TV, but again, you are only getting part of the experience while also neglecting some physical exercise. You can learn a lot of stuff from a documentary, but you don't get an experience you will remember. An example from my life: Ten years ago, my sister took me whale watching off the coast of Baja. Oh. My. God. You go out in tiny boats where the cow (female) gray whales are swimming gently about with their calves and these magnificent creatures come right up to the boats and interact with you! You can pet them, smell them, feel their presence. Far more amazing and memorable than watching a National Geographic special.
Neither online porn nor TV shows will ever replace the real thing, as you wisely conclude. Fortunately, they never fully will. Just as when people feared that the invention of Betamax and VHS tapes would keep people from attending the movie theater proved incorrect (except when you're in a pandemic), technology will never fully replace real life.
When it comes to furries, I believe that one reason people want to be anthros is because, deep down, they recognize how humanity has become separated from animals in nature, and this is their way of reconnecting with wildlife. Now, one of the greatest things to do as a furry is to go to furcons and furmeets, but the main reason the fandom has grown by leaps and bounds can be chalked up to the internet, which allows for communication throughout the world (as I am doing with you right now, my European furiend). Many furries can't go to cons and meets for one reason or another, so the internet allows them to do this. You can thank science for the ability of people to connect in ways they never could before.
Again, good and bad, Yin and Yang, positive and negative. It is the dual nature of our lives.
To answer your last question about science and technology replacing the real world, no, I don't think it will--at least, not completely. There will always be people like yourself who want to go outdoors and do things, interacting with nature and other human beings. Look at what is going on now with the pandemic. Yes, people can watch football on the telly and they can watch movies and talk in chat rooms, but they are screaming to "get back to normal," go see sports and concerts in real auditoriums and stadiums. They want to hang out with friends in bars. They want to go to a beach, even a crowded beach, and enjoy the people and surf. Humans are social beings. They want to interact with real people. How many furries do you talk to who are sad that the conventions have closed? There is nothing like fursuiting in public and getting real hugs. A glowing screen will never ever replace that.
I am glad that you have wrested yourself from the virtual world to experience your life. That's a great thing. You needn't reject it completely, however, or label it evil. As will all things, balance is the key. Find what is good with technology and exploit it for good use. For example, I could not do my current job without the information I have access to when researching online. Yes, I could go to a library, but that is limited compared to the terabytes of information online.
Balance science with nature, technology with the spiritual, and temper it all with wisdom and compassion. That is the path to a happier future.
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