Reality, Virtual Enough

I miss the days where one could meet complete strangers and listen to them chatter about politics, social life or just random subjects that took place on a particular day. I enjoy people’s company in a café and while just walking on the street. Gone are the days where people brimmed with compassion, empathy and great insights about that thing called ‘real’ life.

These days, it is rare to find relevant conversations, for people bore one another with what they have watched on the satellite channel Kana or about a social media post of someone’s graduation, wedding, baby shower or social media activism.

It has become too common that it scares me to pop a conversation even with friends let alone with strangers. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the real world. I like it when people stand up for what they believe in in-person and fight for it while facing predictable consequences. I appreciate it when people understand the core value of themselves and their time and protect it by not daydreaming unless they happen to be making a living out of it. After all, no one denies that it takes more than watching nonsense to be a person of value.

Do not get me wrong. I do not have anything against Kana or social media. I believe both are tolerable until it becomes a drug that slowly squeezes the life out of us. In fact, Kana deserves recognition for breaking the massive language barrier Ethiopians suffer from and for finally allowing our fellow locals to enjoy foreign films.

But would society recognise it if it was something worthwhile?

All it ever struck me as is an unparalleled marketing achievement. But that channel wanes compared to the obsessive-compulsive disorder social media has become on the populace. It is akin to an epidemic.

Social media friends bombard one another with what they have just eaten or drank, their relationship status or their personality complexes.

How sad has reality become that we spend such long periods in the virtual world?

Meeting those very same, seemingly contented individuals in real life, one gets an entirely different account of the state of their lives. It is mostly despair and depression. It is almost a case of double-personality.

Unfortunately, such platforms not only waste time but tend to make people evaluate their self-worth and progress in life by what they see in movies and social media. The idealistic virtual world comparisons lead to feelings of insignificance and insecurity, where values are compared to fiction.

People are enthusiastically fantasising. Everyone wants to be happier, more prosperous and more popular. They just want to be the best than the rest. Be a smart killer or smart robber, just as long as one can get away with it.

To be perfect and show off that lavish house, that selfie-ready spouse and adorable kids are what most wish for. But when we take a step back and think about it, the imaginary world is making us fixated on what we lack.  It dwells on what we perceive are personal drawbacks and emphasises them.

It teaches us that hard work is not a proper means of making money. It forces us to spend more time in the mirror looking for avowals, whether we can fit into the under-sized accessories just to feel beautiful enough. It entices us to look for love in the imaginary world and attempt to mirror every foolish trend social media has deemed chic.

Ironically, the fascination with the virtual world on what is better, what is best, only reminds us of what we are not, of what we lack and what we should have been but failed to be.

The truth of the matter is that everyone is capable of anything and is uniquely positioned to bring a particular beauty to the planet.

But how did we lose our grasp of reality, and get lost in such an idealistic world?

Sensible reasons seem to me be idleness. If we plan to achieve something in life, then scrolling down on our phones as life passes by us or gazing at TV characters would not seem as important. Whatever is going on in the extraneous world, it would not matter as long as our attention is drawn to the real world.

Thus, we should “de-friend”. We should find it within ourselves to go out more, engage with people physically or read a book or two. It does not mean having to necessarily go offline, but the majority of the time spent in such a world is dispensable. It should be tolerable to have such friends, or sometimes give into one’s guilty pleasure by watching soap-operas, just to have all sorts of perspectives about life. Nonetheless, such habits should come in moderation.

By Eden Sahle
Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc who has studied Law and International Economic Law. She can be reached at

Published on Jan 13,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 924]



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