This article previously appeared in The Edition, Volume 31, Issue 1.
If it’s Twitter, Netflix, or maybe online gaming, teens invest themselves in all kinds of virtual and digital worlds that are alternatives to reality; to be able to escape somewhere that doesn’t limit your desires.
Virtual reality has always been a phenomenon but has never been more real than today. Oculus Rift a VR (Virtual Reality) headset company is making its way through the gaming industry and slowly into the social media industry creating a more intuitive and intractable way to connect and experience. These Oculus Rift headsets hold great potential by psychologically immersing people more than ever into any world they desire and making the experiences more real than ever. These headsets are not only slowly making their way into the biggest form of virtual escapism but have plans to make their products less varied by increasing accessibility for the individual by introducing the ability to travel or watch movies even create life-like simulations after a recent 500 million deal with Google.
Doctor Jeremy Bailenson at Stanford University believes that these truly first person experiences can eventually destroy an individual’s perception of reality and adjust it based on what that person is experiencing through his or her virtual experience. Any form of interaction virtually affects our interaction physically. Bailenson has others in his field who doubt this reality, but all agree this is the farthest virtually we can go in terms of realistic experiences. Virtual worlds affect people based on how extreme these experiences can be. Our generation is built on speed– how fast we can access something and how quickly we can take in information and how consistently we can be enveloped in visceral experiences. These VR headsets and their comparison to social media and media in general is that these forms of connectivity and information are going to be constantly accessible. Google glass is a recently developed AR (Augmented Reality) device, which only augments reality rather than completely develop one for its user. Google, like all major tech companies, is striving literally to manipulate the human experience, more “interactive” and expansive. Our desire for more accessibility is what changes reality from augmented to then virtual. These devices are becoming more personal and versatile each day, are being backed by some of the richest tech companies on earth, and have only one objective and that is to, well,…sell, sell, and sell.
It is already clear through our complex lives that we must multi-task while also try to maintain our hectic lives along with the world as it progresses more and more, willing to leave us behind. Make progress, progress is all we know and speed is necessary in order to achieve progress if it’s with school, relationships, social lives, health, etc. We desire connectedness and advancement constantly. We must learn to deny these desires for the highest grade of anything being an iPhone, TV, Laptop, Gaming console whatever to slow down and not to forget to interact and experience live with genuine authenticity; to be able to experience things not like horizontal scanners of information but as conscious beings. As the generation building tomorrow more than any generation before us, we must pay attention; feel a sense of ambiguity and authenticity for all of life’s offerings. An appreciation for the limited real, not only for the unlimited virtual is something we must prioritize, not only for the well-being of ourselves but of humanity.