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    1. #1
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      A discourse on Vicarious Living

      The idea of vicarious living is an intriguing one per se, the notion that one "lives" or "experiences" life indirectly through another agent. That one, by just examining or listening, achieves an emotional response that the direct agent relates or shows.
      My inquiry of the philosophical nature of vicarious living regards the ethical attributes and moral dimension that extend from it.
      This interests me because up until recently I was what you may call addicted to the vicarious life style. I woke up, ate and maybe read a scientific journal or the paper, and then proceeded to play a video game for around 7-8 hours a day. This disrupted my guitar playing, athletic goals, and other such pursuits of mine; the only thing that would break this cycle would be work, but over the weekends, it is how I lived for the last 3 years.
      I think the reason why I enjoyed this video game so much was the escape it provided, the ability for me to engage in a different persona; I literally felt and was received in a whole different way. Essentially an intense vicarious experience. I was the person on the computer screen, in all of him/her's intricacies and attributes. And my reputation on the game was very good, so sometimes I was even worshiped or praised....
      In another case I would like to examine I have my roommate who is really into watching TV shows. He has an inventory in the triple digits, and is interested in spending most of his day watching these shows.. day and night. My roommate happens to be slightly shorter than a normal male should be, a little over weight in addition to that, and lacks developed social skills that would compensate or at least alleviate his statistics. So he is left living a highly intense vicarious life style, perhaps close to the same level as I was, but a little higher probably.
      Regardless, let me explain my general thoughts on the idea and life style. First, my presuppositions.
      1. Life lived vicariously is not as desired as life lived directly (through no other substitute or agent)
      2. Vicarious living is only done so when no other satisfactory medium of direct experience exists, in other words.. a last resort.
      Therefore, I conclusively think that vicarious living is essentially an escapist form reality that snowballs to the loss or lack thereof self identity. With the loss of self identity, you inherit the loss of self esteem, goals related to the self, self interest, self passion, and any other extension that comes from one's own consciousness.
      To me this sounds like an extremely dangerous way to live. It would naturally leave one feeling defeated, forlorn, and highly vulnerable. Having said this, relating to my position when I was at my climax of video game addiction, in a lot of ways that was true. Once I went back to work I felt awkward, unwillingly to participate, depressed, and just out of sync. When I look at my roommate now a days I don't know how he feels, nor do I feel like it's my place to ask him.

      So to wrap this up, my question to you fellows is your opinions of the vicarious life style. Perhaps you yourself are in this condition, or at least know someone who is. Concerning your opinions, would you say the vicarious life style is, as I would say, dangerous, and perhaps not a permanent answer to a unsatisfactory life. So I guess my opinion is that it is a destructive coping mechanism that leads to alienation and many other maladapted states of mind. What would be your thoughts? The ethical, moral aspects even.
      Sorry if this is poorly worded, or too long to read. I did my best to keep it somewhat concise.

      I decided I wanted to further specify my question/concern:

      Given the choice of living a period of the day vicariously or directly, is there a "better" choice.
      Last edited by Dreams4free; 10-20-2011 at 01:31 AM.

    2. #2
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      Yeah there's no question that as long as we have needs in our actual life, delving too deeply into a vicarious life is dangerous. I'm sure you heard about the korean couple whose baby starved to death because they were so caught up in a virtual baby raising game. There's other frightening stories, such as people who starved to death or people who killed themselves after their virtual character was deleted. I think there's even one school shooting relating to a guy's deleted everquest account.

      And who can forget the kid who tried shoving the remote up his ass in a ballistic rage when his brother deleted his WOW account?

      But that's an intense level of addiction, one we can safely assume you're not referring to. I think the film surrogates is a good example of the lesser known danger of a vicarious life, which is a loss of self-esteem. The less one cares for their own life, the less confident they feel about it, and the farther they delve into their vicarious life. The farther they delve, the less they upkeep their own life. This vicious cycle can be inescapable, people get to the point where they can't even stand being with themselves. But I think it's very similar to other forms of addiction such as film and television. Though it's not our personally created character, we end up empathizing with them so our mirror neurons react to their experience as though we were actually experiencing them.

      I suppose I don't see anything inherently wrong with this. I just think, like anything else, moderation is key. One must occasionally turn off the game for a week and experience life as themselves, because at the end of the day the escape is always temporary and you still have to work on yourself to get yourself to the stature of your game character.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    3. #3
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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      Yeah there's no question that as long as we have needs in our actual life, delving too deeply into a vicarious life is dangerous. I'm sure you heard about the korean couple whose baby starved to death because they were so caught up in a virtual baby raising game. There's other frightening stories, such as people who starved to death or people who killed themselves after their virtual character was deleted. I think there's even one school shooting relating to a guy's deleted everquest account.

      And who can forget the kid who tried shoving the remote up his ass in a ballistic rage when his brother deleted his WOW account?

      But that's an intense level of addiction, one we can safely assume you're not referring to. I think the film surrogates is a good example of the lesser known danger of a vicarious life, which is a loss of self-esteem. The less one cares for their own life, the less confident they feel about it, and the farther they delve into their vicarious life. The farther they delve, the less they upkeep their own life. This vicious cycle can be inescapable, people get to the point where they can't even stand being with themselves. But I think it's very similar to other forms of addiction such as film and television. Though it's not our personally created character, we end up empathizing with them so our mirror neurons react to their experience as though we were actually experiencing them.

      I suppose I don't see anything inherently wrong with this. I just think, like anything else, moderation is key. One must occasionally turn off the game for a week and experience life as themselves, because at the end of the day the escape is always temporary and you still have to work on yourself to get yourself to the stature of your game character.
      Well put, I think I agree with this. Perhaps I'm just looking at a highly deviated case rather than its more core practicality. I watch film and read books, but typically its not to live vicariously, its more a philosophical/intellectual inquiry or desire I satiate... or nurture, for that matter. But in video games I think its purely vicarious fantasy.

      I think I need to specify my question.

      Given the choice of living a period of the day vicariously or directly, is there a "better" choice.
      Last edited by Dreams4free; 10-20-2011 at 01:31 AM.

    4. #4
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      No, there is not a better choice. Not objectively. With any situation though, a preferable choice may become clear. But it comes down to actions made for investment in your future vs actions made to enjoy the present.

      Obviously living your direct life is more of an investment in the future because it may not be as enjoyable as the vicarious life but with work it can become as enjoyable or nearly as enjoyable. One must essentially forego their reward in order to surrender to their life's necessities. Of course, if one spends their entire life in the future without enjoying the present, their life is wasted anyways.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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