Real: 1: of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things; 2a: not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory: genuine; b(1): occurring or existing in actuality (2) of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities
I’m starting to dislike the phrases, “the real world,” and, “real life.” Don’t get me wrong – they have their place (mostly in joking), but I think people use them for the wrong reason far too often.
As a former homeschooler, and current firm advocate of homeschooling, I’m quite familiar with hearing people argue that “unsocialized” homeschoolers won’t know how to deal with the real world once they’re through homeschooling. So, according to part 2a of our definition of “real” up there (provided by the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition on my Nook), the real world is not artificial, so apparently the world of homeschooling (since it’s not the real world) is artificial. Perhaps homeschoolers’ bodies are strapped to a table in a lab somewhere and everything they think they experience is really just a computer simulation.
When I came to college, I felt like I was emerging into the real world, even though I never articulated that feeling (and I managed just fine, if I do say so myself). However, now that I’m entering my second year, I’m starting to hear people talk about entering the real world after college. Wait a minute! College is artificial, too?! I’m still strapped to that lab table? NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
Seriously, though, talking a lot about the real world devalues what people are currently doing. It seems to imply, “The life I’m currently living is so much more important than yours. What you’re doing really doesn’t matter, it’s just distracting you until you can find your way into this more important life.”
That’s ridiculous. Just because something is different or has less of an impact on the world at large, that doesn’t mean it is less important or artificial.
It reminds me of a story I’ve heard my mom tell. She teaches college algebra, and she’s had students ask her, “When am I going to use this in real life?” She wants to respond, “What is this, your fake life?”
If it’s happening to you, it’s your real life and your real world. Leave it at that.