by Keith Blakely (UPI)
Coming under increasing scrutiny from media watchdogs and social realists alike, the Facebook corporation announced today that it would be launching an alternate reality to compete with the earthly existences familiar to most users of experiential-based atmospheres.
Facebook users have increasingly been commenting on their profile pages about links that have taken them not to another Web page but to an entirely different environ, noting either frustration at or fascination with the experience. Event invitations, for example, a popular way to let fellow users and people tagged as “friends” on the site about parties, performances or other terrestrial occurrences, have been seen recently to take the user to the actual event, rather than another Web page containing relevant information.
“This is just an example of the inventiveness of our community and the possibilities created by using open source protocols,” said Facebook CEO and co-founder Matt Zuckerberg. “It’s the same thing as all of the savvy developers out there creating apps for iPhones, only these are more submersive.”
But critics have blasted the new applications, saying there are inherent risks in blurring the lines between actual and chosen life situations.
Frantz Beacon, an academe with the accredited online reference think-tank database Wikireality, said that the new interfaces pose some serious problems, although as with anything those problems are the result of user carelessness and not the program itself.
“It’s true that you shouldn’t be interacting in online communities when you’re trying to get something else done,” Beacon said. “Just as it’s true that you shouldn’t be breastfeeding while operating a car, or sending text messages under anesthesia. These things have their times and places. Web sites don’t kill people, people do.”
But to some it’s not as easy as that. Blogger Jenny McClems was doing research for her popular New York nightlife site when she accidentally clicked on a pop-up ad and found herself in the middle of an unidentified casino.
“It was terrible,” she said. “I’m not anti-gambling, but it was 11 in the morning and I was only wearing a robe. I didn’t have my purse, I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have an ID. And once you get there, with all the lights and activity, just try finding an ESC key.”
According to programmer and new media theorist Evelyn Marie, however, these changes are the wave of the future, and people should get used to negotiating different reality complexes at the same time while they can still be turned on and off.
“By 2020, most people will concurrently be interacting on terra-based and cybernetic platforms, probably several of each,” Marie said. “It’s going to be a totally rad network of overlapping instantaneousnesses, where everyone is free to cross-rationalize varying circuitries of interactivating realizations. It’ll be crazytown.”