Is Virtual Reality Our New Reality?

Virtual reality has been at the forefront of the collective tech mind in recent years. Will it become a new way we consume media, or will it be another failed concept that remains stuck in the Star Trek universe?

The virtual reality concept was tested by Nintendo in the 90’s. Virtual Boy. And it flopped. Let’s face it, we didn’t need a headset to play video games back then. The big blocky 20 inch in the living room did just fine. And for a long time, that was the end of that. The only thing that was bridging the gap between reality and a holographic experience were those red and blue glasses I would would find in the middle of a Nickelodeon magazine.

Let’s fast forward 10 years. A little product named Oculus Rift started making its rounds on Kickstarter. At first I was a bit skeptical. Okay, I was really skeptical. Kickstarter campaigns are known for promising the world, taking money, and failing to deliver. But three years later it had a massive overhaul. It’s looking good. And the more I hear about it the more apprehensive the idea of virtual reality becoming a reality makes me feel.

Think about it. We already live in a society where you can do everything at the touch of a button. You can order pizza, listen to music, find a date, check your email, and play a game, all on the same device. It’s become a strange world of instant gratification. And has society improved? Many people are addicted to the escapism that their smart phones provide. They check their phones compulsively. It’s like an itch.

The potential for Oculus is so much more than simply gaming. It could take the people who look to technology for escapism to a new and possibly fearsome level. Don’t like your messy living room? Live in a Japanese Zen garden. Hear the birds chirp, see the beautiful spring sky, and have pink cherry blossoms fall at your feet. Why the hell would you trade that for your bedroom full of messy clothes and Mcdonald’s wrappers? Why clean? Why go outside?

I’ll admit, virtual reality does have some promising possibilities. Imagine being a service member overseas and tuning into your five year old’s birthday party. Imagine being a patient with a terminal illness and being able to see the universe from your hospital bed. It could help. It could mean something. Or it could be another, deeper distraction that takes you away from the real world. That’s why I am nervously excited to give Oculus a go. And the key word is nervously.

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