Fixed Link is the name of a condition that is causing rising concern in Edgard. The condition causes the sufferer to remain in a virtual reality, and to suffer extreme psychological and physical consequences if their connection is severed. It is most likely to affect Edgardian teenagers and young adults, though cases with elderly adults and immigrants have been reported as well.
"I don't want to be another fixed link, I'm scared of that reality too."Tieran, Tilde's brother.Tilde's Chapter One in the Visual Novel
In the visual novel, Tieran talks to his sister, Tilde, about why he dropped out of school. He is overwhelmed by society and doesn't feel he will ever fit in. He is most confident when he is in virtual reality.
Many sufferers with Fixed Link report severe anxiety and depression. While Edgardian society has diverse opinion on the cause, and whether the condition even exists, qualified psychologists state that the condition is caused by the sufferer feeling ostracised from offline society. In Edgardian culture, there is a very strong focus on passing difficult exams, working long hours and contributing to society. Citizens in Edgard who feel overwhelmed may turn to virtual reality and Holo. They may feel their lives are much better online, and slowly withdraw from the offline world.
Those with Fixed Link may struggle with lack of sleep, have a poor diet and little exercise.
Sadly, there are many real world examples of similar conditions, from various cases of extreme escapism to hikikomori, a rising epidemic in Japan. Some countries have created the role of 'Minister of Loneliness' to help create new policies that may reduce the number of cases, and help those suffering from loneliness and social withdrawal ease back into society. While research is still ongoing into these conditions, there are many therapies and groups that are open minded and accessible. These groups have said that people can help those suffering from loneliness and anxiety by taking the time to reach out to people, to listen, to reflect, and to share kindness. Your actions can be make a big difference.