If there’s one acronym I hate, it’s this one: IRL.
IRL stands for: In Real Life. People talk a ton about what they’re doing online versus what they’re doing in the real world. People often talk about meeting-up in the real world once they’ve connected in places like Twitter or Facebook.
Let me ask you this: when you’re on Twitter or Facebook or Blogging are you not in the real world?
When you’re online, are you fake? Is your online avatar simply that: a representation of who you would like to be instead of who you really are? As the great philosopher, Popeye, used to say: "I yam what I yam." People will look at me sideways when I say that online social networks are the real world. They don’t buy it. They think that you can’t create and nurture a "real" relationship online. Anything "real" has to take place in the "physical" world. This is not clear to me. It’s confusing, and it often confuses me when I think about it. I am typing this Blog post right now in the real world. I am using real world emotions. I am using real words. I don’t consider any of this virtual. I don’t consider any of this fake or inauthentic.
All of this exists in the real world.
Take a look around you. The chair you’re sitting on. The screen you’re staring at. Look at the four walls. Look at the clothes you’re wearing. Think about these words. Let them sink in. Does any of this not feel real to you? It feels very real to me.
The words we use create the world we live in.
If we say that everything online is not "the real world," we are – to some extent – diminishing it, dismissing it and making it seem less substantive than it is. Does this Blog post hold less value to you because it’s not on a page stapled to other pages with similar articles and ads? Don’t get me wrong, pressing the flesh and meeting in our protein forms is critical. This is not about removing the human factor and the amazing collaboration that happens when we meet in person, but when you’re online, you’re still in the real world. When you’re online there is still a human factor and real collaboration does happen when individuals are not in the same room.
This is the real world. This is real life.