It’s interesting how one thing makes you think of another, and before you know it you have a fantastic and seemingly-non-connected chain of thoughts. A while ago, I was looking at the light of our living room lamps reflected in our old TV, and I started thinking about reflections. We see so many reflections of ourselves and the things around us: mirrors, replicas, selfies. Even life itself is reflected in facets like video games and social media. Technology has made it much easier to see reality in different ways and reflections. Most of these can border on the addictive to interact with. But why addictive?
The idea of virtual reality—a simulated reality—does have an allure. Perhaps it’s because virtual reality, a sort of copy of the world, seemingly offers a chance to have total control. Imagine if you knew that, no matter what happened, you would be secure with a command or a push of a certain button. You would be in a world molded around yourself for your own entertainment and excitement. And what a comfort to know that whatever would occur in a virtual reality, it would only be as real as you allow it to be!
Video games and social media can give virtual-reality-type experiences. Maybe that’s why they’re so dangerous. They offer experiences that we don’t physically encounter. They give only an illusion of control, control in events that don’t really happen. The lines between reality and unreality can be blurred, whatever lines exist.
In discussing this we can’t downplay the importance of good old-fashioned imagination. I’m a firm believer in imagination—but not in disconnection or limitation. Video games and the like are simply reflections of what our imaginations can think. They are pre-fabricated spaces for the mind to stay and occupy itself. Imposition of a limited, controlled circumstance such as a video game might make the mind satisfied with a mere reflection of what it could be capable.
Reflections can be used as a kind of escapism, as technology users often try to tweak their lives through their games and posts. They might actually have mediocre or miserable lives, but at least they can distract themselves with their performance on Temple Run, or with another follower joining the ranks. They can even regulate what others see or think about them, though this makes an incomplete reflection of who we really are as humans and how complex each of us is as a person.
With such technologies, users try to change their lives as to how they plan them. But humans’ plans can never come close to the perfection of God’s plans, plans whose wonder we could never be able to predict. Being preoccupied with mere reflections of God’s reality is an injustice to the original reality’s beauty, making people less attentive to it.
And nowadays, we don’t only see reflections of life—it’s now a game to see your own reflection distorted in unusual ways, such as in face swaps and makeup apps. The problem is when this sort of thing is taken too far. When people constantly see themselves as distorted, and not always as images and likenesses of God, then the real damage of reflections has been done.
We all must make sure to see God’s beauty first before we look at the reflections. If we take care around possible traps and keep aware of the allure of unreality, we can even use reflections to reflect gazes back to God. But remember: technology and such are only a means, a possible extra enrichment to our personal work, growth, and evangelization.