What Is The Real World?

Jason Fried at 37Signals writes:
One of the things that always gives us a good laugh over here is when people pull out the “real world” card.
He’s talking about when people try to rub something in your face like, “How about you take your nose out of X and focus on the Real World,” or, as we heard over and over a couple weeks ago (see Kathy Sierra), “This kind of stuff happens all the time in the Real World.” It’s as though they’re living in some reality TV show that you’ve somehow been ignoring by focusing on your work, or blogging, or your life.

It’s a phrase which, you might be able to tell, has always bothered me because it makes a faulty assumption: that somehow, magically, you have managed to remove yourself from existence and are functioning on an alternate, and ultimately less worthy metaphysical plane. Now, I know people don’t mean that. What they mean is, “I am better than you.” That isn’t very nice. And it’s certainly not true.

But I’d rather not get into any of the finer points of this philosophy that seems pulled straight out of The Matrix. No bad blood to the movie is intended, but you must agree that any philosophy pulled from a movie starring Keanu Reeves is a bit suspect. Instead, here are some of my favorite responses on the Signal Vs. Noise blog to the challenge “Define the ‘real world’ in 10 words or less.” There are some more good ones there that are worth a look, too.

The Real World is...
  • A place where people reject change, no matter how beneficial.
  • The color of my sons eyes will never be 2.0.
  • The place where a thing is no longer a theory.
  • More complex and difficult than our general perceptions of it.
  • Breath, intent, perseverance, then death.
  • Right next door to Theory where instead, nothing works.
  • The bitchslap I got when asking my wife that question.
  • An often used excuse for those unwilling to take risks.
  • The real world to me is a series of tubes.
  • Where it is actually only 5 inches, not 8.
  • The paycheck figure for Web 2.0 companies cleaning service workers
  • You pay yourself to sit home and play. Dreamy!
  • Blogging. No, really. It’s just as real as any real. (This one’s mine, yeah.)
  • My world. My limits. My fears. My complexity and complications.
  • Mom and Dad in the Buick, arguing about rotten tomatoes.
  • 1 historical 2 events 3 shaping 4 the 5 expectations 6 of 7 an 8 imagination-9 less 10 person.
  • The very last resort for someone out of good arguments.
  • The business speak equivalent of But Will It Scale?
  • Whatever I think because I’m so much better than you!
Curious to know what this post is doing on 37Signals? Read this one, and its comments, and it will all become very clear.