North Texas Daily

VR expansion may devise bleaker society than intended

VR expansion may devise bleaker society than intended

VR expansion may devise bleaker society than intended
February 18
02:00 2022

Virtual reality (VR) can be defined as a fully immersive computer-generated world. Oculus, one of the largest distributors of VR technology, describes virtual reality like this:

VR uses cutting-edge graphics, best-in-class hardware, and artistically rendered experiences to create a computer-simulated environment where you aren’t just a passive participant, but a co-conspirator. With a VR headset, you’re fully absorbed in realistic 3D worlds, creating a major shift in how we experience the digital realm.”

Initially, VR was primarily used in gaming, allowing users to become engrossed in various virtual worlds by using specially made headsets. Akin to the popular Ernest Cline novel “Ready Player One,” and its film adaptation, VR users can travel through and participate in worlds that were once only attainable through imagination.

Sounds pretty cool, right? After all, we could probably all use a break from the real world and its many problems, and what better way to do so than to dive into a virtual landscape of our choosing.

Since its inception, though, VR has quickly developed into far more than a mere gaming hobby. In recent years, especially since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more commonplace amongst businesses. It is predicted that nearly 23.5 million jobs worldwide will be using AR and VR by 2030 for training, work meetings or to provide better customer service, according to a 2019 PwC report.

Spatial, which creates a tool best described as a VR version of Zoom, reported a 1,000 percent increase in the use of its platform since March 2020. In total, the value of the market for VR business equipment is forecast to swell from $829 million in 2018 to $4.26 billion by 2023, according to research by ARtillery Intelligence.

As businesses look for alternatives to remain profitable during the pandemic, VR has become an unlikely hero. Schools, hospitals and businesses alike have all begun to implement the use of VR tech more frequently.

On the surface, this may seem fairly harmless, but one has to wonder about the potential downside of a massive societal reliance on virtual reality. After seeing the consequences of the explosion of the internet and social media (cyberbullying, identity theft, phishing, isolation, etc.), it isn’t hyperbolic to assume the introduction of the VR era could produce similar stumbling blocks. 

Even if things go without a hitch and crime remains at a minimum, one has to wonder if the expansion of virtual reality will enlargen the societal rift caused by social media.

Following a little over a decade’s worth of social media use, society has inarguably become less compassionate and connected to each other. Now, with the rise of VR, where everyone can immerse themselves into a digital reality of their choosing without regard for the real world around them, it seems like a continued regression in humanism is inevitable.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Jalyn Smoot

Jalyn Smoot

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