Opinions

All This Hype About Virtual Reality - Here's Why I Think It Is Really Dangerous

When virtual reality was introduced to the world, many thought it was as mind blowing as watching Inception for the first time.

It was like the time when they showed the first motion picture decades ago. It showed a train dashing towards the camera and people were convinced that it was going to shatter the screen and knock them down like dominoes.

A similar thing happened earlier this week on Monday. Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself at the auditorium full of people spotting virtual reality headsets. Everyone was so engrossed with the realistic graphics shown on their goggles that they were completely oblivious to the Facebook tycoon walking past them.

And because we live in the internet age, here are a couple of comments that poked fun at the bizarre snapshot.

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Image credit: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page

The Next Big Thing

First things first, it is creepy. Zuckerberg’s impromptu visit was meant to be a surprise. However, I feel like the plan has backfired — because not only does the picture above paints an exciting future, it also paints a bleak one.

Zuckerberg recently joined Samsung to debut their new Galaxy smartphones and talk about the future of virtual reality. The Samsung’s Gear VR is packed with a 360 video that records all 360 degrees of a scene. This means that we can watch it from different angles.

In the big kahuna’s words, “you can look around and feel like you’re actually in the video — whether that means surfing in Tahiti, flying with the Blue Angels, or exploring the surface of Mars.”

virtual reality
Image credit: Pawel Kuczynski

Virtual Reality = Zombies?

If you scroll down the comments thread, you’d see that the majority of the public were mocking the photo — one user likened it to a “future of zombies with their eyes covered”, while another shared the cruel downside of virtual reality.

Then there’s the comment that slapped me in the face: we’re criticising about technology on the most popular social digital platform. Is it just me, or does anyone feel like a hypocrite? That’s one way of being insufferable on social media.

This is not the first time the public has discussed about virtual reality. Back on January 2014, Forbes contributor Steven Kotler and Unreasonable Group Global Content Partner Laura Anne Edwards wrote an article titled, Legal Heroin: Is VR Our Next Hard Drug? The article was widely debated because it puts a lot of things into perspective, and that soon there will be “a serious real world emigration, where large swatches of society begin to live more in the virtual than the actual.”

virtual reality avatar
Image credit: imbd

Virtual Reality An Unnecessary Hype?

For me personally, I feel the same way about virtual reality as I do about Hello Kitty and the Longchamp bag — I don’t get the hype. Now that I think about it, I think it’s the reason why I’m not a fan of Avatar.

I wasn’t like this before. I was excited about virtual reality. I was thrilled about what the powerful medium can do. I was a huge fan of life stimulation video games and online worlds. Harvest Moon, The Sims, Second Life, Pokémon Emerald, you get my drift.

I made life plans (really) for my characters on my tattered journal. It sounds ridiculous that I cared more about these virtual characters than I did myself. I knew something was up when I got strangely excited about my pregnant Sims character.

Did she eat enough apples and melons? Man, I hope she gets triplets. I wonder if she’ll have two girls and a boy.

The whole thing is bonkers.

virtual reality
Image credit: LINK Magazine

When Should We Worry?

Fortunately, my problem was only temporary.

For me, the video, Jimmy Kimmel Live – Teenagers Answer – What’s Your Greatest Accomplishment was a wake-up call. The title says it all. One boy caught 649 Pokémon and proclaimed it as his biggest achievement. But since more Pokémon were added to the game, he had to start all over again.

That hit me hard. Because I didn’t like what I was seeing in myself. It made me realised that I was losing direction. So I ditched the games for good. My game consoles and box-sets are in my drawer collecting dust. It’s safe to say that I’ve fallen out of love for the virtual world.

Virtual reality can be an amazing and dangerous medium. If people want to enter into the virtual world to briefly escape from the harsh reality, then by all means go for it. To paraphrase from Jorge Tereso, creative director at 3dar Studios, the problem doesn’t lie in the virtual world.

It’s the users that “end up using it in a bad and addictive way.” I’m not a Debbie Downer. If you still think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, then please, take a look at this picture below. I’ll wait.

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Image credit: Mark Zuckerberg & HTML Fusion

Do you see my point?

 

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