Virtual: “Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name”
As above, I have highlighted several important words: ‘existing/resulting’, ‘essence/effect’ and ‘actual fact/form’. There are three groups of words here that are crucial to my definition of virtual.
We know that the Web – the whole of it – is not tangibly existent anywhere. It does not take actual form. This is the clearest example on the meaning of the third pair of phrases I can give. Fact refers to something that is ‘indisputably the case’ – so something not taking ‘actual fact’ means something that simply isn’t the case. I believe fact and form are closely related or almost indistinguishable for the purpose of discusssing the general topic.
Next, I will deal with the first two pairs of words together. I will ignore ‘existing’ since you can guess that it means to ‘take actual fact or form’. The important phrase, is ‘resulting in essence or effect’. The essence of something is the jist, the key idea, the very distilled and simplest form of something. Thus a virtual conversation over the phone, or through Facebook messaging, really just is communication in its essence – minus the face to face meeting, the body language, the facial expressions, the (more tangible) emotions that come with the actual presence of another person. Of course, taking the essence of communication – to put forth a certain message to another person, whether intentionally or not – has its consequences as I might cover far later.
How about ‘effect’? Well, this would refer to the actual effects virtual communication has on various participating ‘entities’ – the people communicating, mostly. It is with great emphasis placed that I point out the grave importance of reminding oneself that the cause-effect correlation of reality and virtuality should not be underestimated. I might cover this later…
So, I am finally done with explaining the terms that define ‘virtual’. It would be finally time to start on actual stuff.