The first time I learnt about the term ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ was in high school physics . When light rays actually meet, it is a real image and when they appear to come from a point, it is a virtual image. An image is an image; what difference does it make if you see it in a concave mirror or a convex mirror. Well we can leave that to the physicists .
The next time I came across the term was in the context of computer gaming,”Virtual Reality” . The term is even more confusing. After years of involvement in a VR Project I learnt that VR simulates experience through senses and perception. You ‘see’ things which are not there, feel a hit when no one has hit you and so on.
Nowadays one hears a plethora of terms “Perception management” , “Image Projection”, “Optics”, “Image building” and so on. Doesn’t it all amount to creation of a simple Virtual Image or may be an ant throwing up a shadow the size of an elephant ?
Sometimes, I feel , the Real World we live in full of virtual images, where everyone is practicing their own version of perception management in personal and professional Spheres.
Recently, while talking to a finance professional about IPOs, I was amazed to learn about the extent companies go to ,to project the desired image for success of an IPO. They need to manage ‘TV Channels, Web portals, independent finance consultants, HNIs and so many entities to project a favorable image. This of course is in addition to window dressing of balance sheets and cooking up of accounts through highly paid bean counters.
Cinema is the domain of dream merchants selling virtual images , but they too resort to image projection to sell the make-believe world they produce. And publicity tours by stars have reached absurd levels. Simply can’t imagine Rajesh Khanna or Hema malini doing a blitz tour of schools and colleges to promote their movies. Nor can one imagine writers Kalki or RK Narayanan bombarding the world with Tweets and face-book posts to promote their books. It is not just actors and writers who need image projection, but even doctors,lawyers and teachers need to project their images and these are professions where ethics forbid any advertisements.
The matrimonial columns in newspapers and matrimony platforms on visual media are the ultimate exercises in maximum image building at minimum costs. The stakes are also high here.
So, be it TV, Newspapers, Social media friends and the ‘real’ people around , all seem so virtual.
Ironically, it is only during interaction with on-line strangers that I get a feel of interacting with real people. The financial transactions on-line are so real and honest, though money doesn’t really change hands in the literal sense. While playing chess online with absolute strangers, I can sense the feelings of triumph or frustration of my opponent. Even the Google translated chats in a foreign language appear more real than interactions with some friends on the face book. What is social media but ultimate form of Narcissism and playing to the gallery.
When the real world is saturated with virtual images, one looks to the virtual world for some reality.