Captain Picard: I disengaged the safety protocols. Without them even a holographic bullet can kill.
Despite the importance of telecommunications in our daily lives, many people tend to underestimate just how important they are, especially as we creep closer to Everything Is Online. This can lead to disbelieving statements or outright denial when digital trouble has analog effects. Even if traffic lights are going haywire, and water mains are popping from overpressure, they may protest against any suggestion that it has to do with computers.
- In Summer Wars most of the family doesn't realize how serious the problem of the internet being taken over by a rogue AI is, inadvertently sabotaging attempts to defeat it twice - first when the AI still demonstrated only a single avatar, and again by removing ice that was cooling a supercomputer when it was on the verge of containing it. Only after it aims a space probe at a nuclear power station do they realize the magnitude.
- In Digimon Adventure, once the kids learn they're in a computer-based world Tai becomes reckless since he thinks it's all virtual and nothing can hurt him. When he finally gets that it's not a video game and can kill him dead, he realizes what nearly happened to him and, well, bluescreens.
- Star Trek: First Contact has a woman from the mid 21st century exposed to holodeck technology for the first time. She is surprised when Picard's holographic Tommy Gun has very real (and very lethal) effects on the two Borg that follow them in.
- At the beginning of American Gods, Shadow expresses lack of faith in his electronic plane ticket - where he doesn't have a physical ticket, just a number to give at check-in - because it just doesn't seem real to him. It's nice foreshadowing of his siding with the old gods against the new, technology-based ones.
- In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Aliens Of The Week beam four DS9 crew members into a holographic game parlour. At the end, the situation gets quite dangerous and the crew members seem to die - only, to their own surprise, to turn up perfectly okay back in Quark's bar. May be justified, because holographic simulations actually can turn lethal in the Star Trek universe.
- A strong example in NUMB3RS. A Playful Hacker cheerfully pisses off a number of powerful agencies online, legal and illegal, and is in total denial that they could come after him in real life.
- In the La Femme Nikita series, a hacker attacks both the Designated Hero Section One and a rival black-ops intelligence agency and both sides pull an Enemy Mine to track him and find him. When they do, the hacker shows surprise at the fact that they managed to track him-and it's sort of implied that he thought he was playing some kind of war game.
- There's an episode of The Fairly OddParents! where Timmy and friends start out thinking this, but since the game is magic, it can really kill them, so Timmy has to save them.
- As this Penny Arcade strip shows, there was initially some reluctance to deal with Real Money Trade related scams, thanks to a perception that the goods weren't "real" anyway.
- Laws regarding Intellectual Property are meant to avert this trope by giving certain rights to people who produce intangible products such as digital media.
- This phenomenon is what makes the problem of cyberbullying so severe. Adults generally take even physical bullying with a grain of salt, so in cases when it's not even "real" to them, they just laugh it off.