If our virtual identities were suddenly stripped away from us (by circumstances or by monastic choice), what would remain?
This question materialized in my head the other day during a meeting centered on some upcoming product innovations. I was reflecting on how seamless our face-to-face and virtual experiences are becoming, through the use of tools such as skinny smart phones and malnourished laptops interfacing with all things Cloud.
I, personally, cannot imagine sharing ideas, deepening relationships and promoting work anymore only through face-to-face conversations, email or phone calls. There are still people who function with just the face-to-face and a (not smart) phone, and I respect their choices. The ever-expanding scalability, ease of communication and depth of content made possible through our virtual tools and resources, however, seem essential for anyone seeking to be a serious player in the global marketplace. (I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing; just making an observation.)
So much so, that I wonder how we would move forward if it all suddenly came crashing down through some technological catastrophe or virtual terrorism.
Fortunately, the likelihood of such a “catastrophe” is extremely low. But my question digs at something deeper than functionalities or economies:
For those of us who have become so entrenched in our Cloud-driven lifestyles and careers, how much of our self-awareness has become fully engulfed in “virtual consciousness?”
In other words, do we have a core sense of ourselves as spiritual, conscious beings distinct from the technological framework in which we have repositioned and threaded together so many aspects of life? If we were to—for whatever reason—suddenly no longer exist virtually…would we exist?
My answer to that question is a resounding “yes.” One cannot limit eternity to a technological or economic context that is renting space in a still larger context of a time-bound cultural era. Eternity is hard-wired throughout our essences like search engine servers are inextricably tangled with information and ideas.
The spiritual literature I am voraciously reading, and the intuitive sense of mystery that continues to unfold in my heart and mind,  keeps me grounded in truth that is beyond words and certainly beyond the Cloud .
But just as it is sometimes easy to confuse the medium with the message, our fast-paced lifestyles make it plausible that one can confuse the technology with the personhood. This is especially prevalent for “digital natives,” those of the rising, youngest generations who will have no memory of life before virtual reality and all of its toys.
These things I ponder…do you?