Why do we change our style according to the situation and circumstances we find ourselves in? It’s the reality we construct in our heads that makes us change our behaviour, often in ways that can be quite amusing…
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
We have got used to using an incorrect expression. For instance, when we watch increasingly realistic animated films or computer games, we say what we are watching is virtual reality. Wrong. It is a real reality. Virtual reality is, rather, what we live in our everyday life. Because, as we know, the reality that surrounds us is communicated via symbols, and there is no symbol that does not have a certain detachment from how we live it and read it. Try to think how we behave when we are driving. We are ourselves with our car, and yet our driving style changes as a function of the reality we find are faced with.
For example, a woman we like has got into our Ferrari. Perhaps it’s the first time she has been in the car with us and we want to make a good impression. At this point, we become immersed in a world that totally changes our normal reality. We begin to drive in a different way. Or like an idiot, going faster than necessary and in a noisy manner. Or we drive very slowly, really slowly, almost as if we want to show that our powerful vehicle can be humiliated to the level of a modest means of transport as we wait to unveil its true power… If we were alone we would certainly drive in a different and better way. If, at a certain point, while driving normally, a traffic police car appears, then reality suddenly changes and, even if we are below the speed limit – with our seat belt fastened and no mobile phone in our hand – we start to drive in another different way. Will they pull me over? It is at this point that we normally do everything we can to make the policeman aware of our anxiety. So this, more or less, is the notion of the transformation of real reality into virtual reality.
I remember when, in my early years as driver, I turned up at the start of my first race. It was a hill race and, to complicate matters, it began to rain, which made my test drives the day before of little use. Ready, off! I began to drive like an idiot, much faster than I would have ever thought of doing in normal conditions. The reality I had was that drivers had to go fast, at any cost, forgetting – until the first corner – that it was pouring down with rain. Luckily, I hit the bales of hay side-on and stayed in gear. Off again, with a little more common sense, but not too much – just enough to finish fifth, three seconds behind the winner. As I progressed in racing, even though I would often finish in a good position, there was a cast of superheroes who seemed unbeatable; whether in a hill race or on the track, there was always three or four in front. And the more it happened, the more I overdid the late braking and occasionally overturned my car. In reality, I made my competitors unbeatable. Until, one day, I happened to win. From that moment on, I was a changed man. I began to drive in a completely different way: safely, thoughtfully, and fast. The virtual reality I had created for myself had changed. Now I felt myself to be a superhero and everything went better.
Among our readers are many who go to the track, to enjoy the pleasure of horsepower only a Ferrari can deliver. Raise your hand anyone who hasn’t realized that his times improved the less he ‘went hard’? Brake a little early, follow the right line, press on the gas a moment before because you’re on the right line of the bend; this is the way to improve times and cut risks. And on the road? Is there anything more irritating than someone who sits behind you to try and challenge a Ferrari? Woe betide you if you fall for it. Better to let them overtake and keep an eye on him for a while. Don’t get too close, and then bitterly humiliate them as soon as the conditions and your horsepower provide the right opportunity. So, the next time you take out that lady – now that you don’t have to prove anything and reality has become real – you need to remember that opening the door and then closing it for her will make a much better impression than driving wildly. And, still on the subject of virtual reality, be careful that what happened to a friend of mine doesn’t happen to you. He entrusted his Ferrari to a parking valet at a film premiere. He even got a ticket in exchange. He still has it. But he hasn’t seen the car since. So is it clear now, this concept of virtual reality?