Real life

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Real life is a phrase used to distinguish actual events, people, and activities from fictional worlds or characters, from interactions on the Internet, or, pejoratively, from certain lifestyles or activities that the speaker deems less important, worthy, or otherwise "real."

Distinct from the Internet[edit]

On the Internet, "real life" refers to life in the real world. Online, the acronym "IRL" stands for "in real life", with the meaning "not on the Internet".[1] For example, while Internet users may speak of having "met" someone that they have contacted via online chat or in an online gaming context, to say that they met someone "in real life" is to say that they literally encountered them in a common physical location. Some, arguing that the Internet is part of real life, prefer to use AFK (such as the documentary TPB AFK).

Some sociologists engaged in the study of the Internet have predicted that someday, a distinction between online and real-life worlds may seem "quaint", noting that certain types of online activity, such as sexual intrigues, have already made a full transition to complete legitimacy and "reality".[2]

Related terminology[edit]

The abbreviation "RL" stands for "real life" and "IRL" for "in real life." For example, one can speak of "meeting IRL" (LMIRL) someone whom one has met online. It may also be used to express an inability to use the Internet for a time due to "RL problems." Some Internet users use the idioms "face time", "meatspace" or "meat world", which contrast with the term "cyberspace".[3][4] "Meatspace" has appeared in the Financial Times[5] and in science fiction literature.[6] Some early uses of the term include a post to the Usenet newsgroup austin.public-net in 1993[7] and an article in the Seattle Times about John Perry Barlow in 1995.[8] The term entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2000.[9]

Distinct from fiction[edit]

When used to distinguish from fictional worlds or universes against the consensus reality of the reader, the term has a long history:

Authors, as a rule, attempt to select and portray types rarely met with in their entirety, but these types are nevertheless more real than real life itself.

Similarly, the phrase can be used to distinguish an actor from a character, e.g. "In real life, he has a British accent" or "In real life, he lives in Los Angeles."

There is a related but slightly distinct usage among role-players and historical reenactors, to distinguish the fantasy or historical context from the actual world and the role-player or reenactor from the character, e.g. "What do you do in real life?" or "Where do you live in real life?"

Other uses[edit]

The phrase is also used to distinguish academic life from work in other sectors, in a manner similar to the term "real world". A person with experience in "real life" or the "real world" has experience beyond book learning. It may also be used, often pejoratively, to distinguish other insular subcultures, work environments, or lifestyles from more traditional social and professional activities.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "AcronymFinder.com search for IRL". 
  2. ^ Don Slater (2002). "Social Relationships and Identity On-line and Off-line". In Leah, Sonia, Lievrouw, and Livingstone. Handbook of New Media: Social Shaping and Consequences of ICTs. Sage Publications Inc. pp. 533–543. ISBN 0-7619-6510-6. 
  3. ^ "meatspace (MEET.spays) n.". Word Spy. Paul McFedries and Logophilia Limited. 1996-11-14. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  4. ^ Dodero, Camille (17 July 2006). "Does your life suck?". The Phoenix. Retrieved 2007-07-23. "Beyond this world, in real life — a/k/a what Second Lifers refer to as "meatspace," where your body is made of flesh, not bytes…" 
  5. ^ Rhymer Rigby (2006-08-23). "Warning: interruption overload". Ft.com. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  6. ^ For example:
    • Stephenson, Neal (2000). Cryptonomicon. HarperCollins. p. 529. ISBN 0-380-78862-4. "Current meatspace coordinates, hot from the GPS receiver card in my laptop: ..." 
    • Stirling, S. M. (2003). T2: Rising Storm. T2 Series. HarperCollins. p. 53. ISBN 0-380-80817-X. "On the Internet the gloves come off and people say things they'd never say in meat space." 
  7. ^ Barnes, Douglas (21 February 1993). "Austin CyberSpace Journal #1". Retrieved 2008-03-13. "Meatspace update (quick rundown on where/how to interact with net.folks in meatspace, i.e., regular events, social gatherings, restaurant hangouts, etc.)" 
  8. ^ Andrews, Paul (30 October 1995). "He's Trying To Build A Community On-Line -- Grateful Dead Lyricist Ventures Into Cyberspace". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-03-13. "John Perry Barlow is multitasking between cyberspace, meatspace and parentspace about as well as a mere mortal can do." 
  9. ^ "'Lookist' Britain: the way we look inspires the new English". Retrieved 2008-03-13. 
  10. ^ "Fyodor Dostoyevsky: The Idiot: Part IV: Chapter I". The Free Online Library. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 

External links[edit]