Are virtual societies harming us in “real” life?

It has now been around five days since the terrible shooting in Aurora Colorado. As more and more information has come out about the shooter- his background, and how people described him, I can not help but start to carefully look people over in the extremely public places I go. I wonder if the person next to me is living two lives, and could snap at any moment. I was rather hesitant to blog on this topic, but somehow every other blog I started reverted back to this idea of two societies, and I knew this topic was one I truly wanted to address.

The idea of having two lives or two identities is one businesses are now starting to profit off of according to Arnold Brown. He states that social scientists have found there are two identities, a found one- like your name and age, and a made one- which is how you see yourself and how others see you. He brings up a point (that in recent light of the shootings terrifies me.) He says in the past when people wanted to change things about themselves they would move, or change their appearance. Now with technology you can “change your identity at will.”

It has been reported that the shooter thought he was the Joker, the Villain from the infamous Dark Knight movie series. In the same article that confirmed the Joker identity, a neighbor of the shooter reported getting “a few beers” with him just nights before the attack and he reported nothing seemed out of the ordinary about him. The fact that an individual can be that involved in two separate lives, for no one to even catch a hint of what I would consider insanity is mind boggling. It is incredible to me how this situation perfectly illustrates what Brown was outlining in an article that was published in March/April of 2011. He says there will be constant growing confusion about identity, and that  people who spend “substantial amounts of time in virtual worlds” their worlds will be “sharply less defined.”

I believe if the shooter really did believe that he was the Joker that is exactly what happened, and with 12 dead and another 59 wounded we need to take a serious look at virtual realities as a society. We need to live in one world, and work on improving our “made identities” in the real world, not by updating a better picture to our facebook pages.

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