While the term cyberspace refers to the digital realm of computers and the internet, the term meatspace refers to “real life” or the “offline” world. Similar meanings are conveyed by the acronyms IRL (in real life) or AFK (away from keyboard).
Before information and communication technologies (ICTs) had proliferated to the extent that they have now, it was somewhat easier to distinguish between the online world (cyberpace) and the offline world (meatspace). Cyberspace was a new, unexplored, and almost an unreal space. Connection to that space was itself a ritual filled with thrill and anticipation as the wobbly static screeching and beeping of the modem sent electric waves down the spine, triggering goose bumps in their wake. The screeching of the modem reinforced the division between cyberspace and meatspace.
These days we talk less and less of being online. Our phones are continuously connected in our pockets constantly syncing without any screechy beeping. The division between cyberspace and meatspace is becoming increasingly weak and permeable, and in many cases nonexistent. Cyberspace is normalised and retreats into the background of existence – an omnipresent digital aether that is not quite visible.
At the same time, the proliferation of ICTs and IP connections screeches on, with innovation and change occurring at a rapid rate