The Declining Significance of Reality
I read today that Montana is the only state to permit marriage by proxy, and Iowa is the only state that does not recognize those marriages. My surprise is not that someone can marry in this manner, but rather that it is not more widespread.
So much of our lives has become representational. Uncontested divorces occur in many states without the defendant showing up. In California, neither party to a no-fault dissolution needs to attend if correct paperwork is submitted. You can transact real estate with a power of attorney. Amazon and eBay built their fortunes on the attractiveness of no physical place being required to buy or sell. And, as an attorney in a digital environment, I am not necessarily at my office or in court unless I am seeing a client, judge or jury.
Simultaneous with this reduced physical presence is our acceptance of more representational communication than ever before; including email, instant messaging, YouTube and iPod. Since all we ever know arrives through our senses, if the input adequately approximates reality, why travel? The reality-based experience (or attended marriage ceremony) is increasingly too time-consuming or expensive compared to the virtual alternative that we find almost as good.