Real Life

What Does Real Life Mean?

Real life is a term used to describe people, events and activities that occur outside of the virtual realm of fictional characters from books, movies, games or particularly the Internet. At present, the term mostly refers to life “offline” or away from the Internet, even spawning the acronym “IRL” which stands for “in real life,” suggesting that what happens on the Internet is not tied to “real life.”

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Techopedia Explains Real Life

The term “real life” can be used in many different contexts. It is sometimes used derisively when a user deems a certain activity or lifestyle to be considered sub-par or unworthy, such as when adults consider academic life as not yet the “real world,” but for a student whose time is consumed by school, that is indeed the real world or real life.

In terms of technology, real life most commonly refers to interactions or facts that are separate from the Internet. Because of the anonymity brought by the Internet and the various subcultures within it such as chatting, forums and online games as well as fantasy and fan-fiction writing communities, people treat everything that goes on in and around the Internet as completely separate from real life, prompting the disclaimer word “IRL” if someone wants to discuss something which occurs offline.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.