I understood that there are bigger realities than others while I was shamelessly eating a second ice cream cone in the train station last night. It became a matter of simple probability that I would buy an ice cream cone at the end of my day almost every night since I got to the Netherlands: five out of seven days a week, give or take. The ice cream cone represents a medal; another day, another trophy, no matter how ridiculous or small the accomplishment is. I would never do this back home, but being in a foreign country gives me just about the right amount of justification I need to consume a cold, delicious, bundle of calories almost every night.
I simply do not care. Not because I am looking forward to getting a good deal of cellulite, but because I already have my plane ticket back home. Since this experience has an expiration date, it feels less real than my normal life with an unknown amount of years to live and an entirely developed context and personality with its respective rules and restrictions.
I cannot wake up from this strange, train-taking, bicycle-riding, rain-pouring, ice cream cone dream, because I have just come to realize, I am not sleeping. And I suddenly understand that this is my life right now, and that I have been acting like it is an adjacent branch growing out of my truest real life back in Mexico. But these are real ice cream cones. Even if this reality is smaller than my other one, it is still real. And this got me thinking about all of my adjacent realities. One of the most important ones is my own, personal, digital universe. I have Instagram entertainment, Pinterest food and Facebook friends. Even when I am in a completely different context than Mexico, the only constant in my life will be my own, personalized, virtual reality.
The question became scarier the more I thought about it. Is my virtual reality smaller or bigger than my actual reality? Is it really adjacent to me, or am I adjacent to it?
This seems only true at an individual level. I am aware that not everyone feels as connected to technology as us… not everyone can. Because it is privilege that lets us grasp these questions. But in this context I cannot help but wonder if I would be the same person or have my same reality, if I did not interact with technology. Would my thoughts, my ideals, my interests be the same? I know that the answer is no. And one could argue that both the actual reality and the virtual reality compliment each other nowadays, but I rather see them separately. One is bigger than the other, the question is: which one?
Just as this semester in the Netherlands may seem like a smaller, separated part from my real life to me, technology may feel like an abstract concept, omnipresent but separated from my own persona. They can easily seem smaller than the truth, even surreal.
This week was about asking questions. I have not yet found the answers that I am looking for, but I am sure I am getting somewhere. This foolish ice cream cone self-reward suddenly became a metaphor for so many things that I could not fathom before.