Facebook plans to buy Oculus, the company behind the Rift headset. I am not going into the hardcore tech details of the gadget or the billions it is currently being wagered for. All those details don’t make for pleasurable reading; too much number crunching for me leads to a brain drain.
I decided to dust off the cobwebs hanging over my writerly muse because somewhere in that article the whole concept of Metaverse emerged as the new prophet who holds the key to a brand new networked world. I then began frantically typing away at a speed I couldn’t quite believe I was capable of. Not because I was excited that in the future of a billion gamers I could strut as an avatar. No sirah. The possibility of being anyone I wanted in a virtual world does not appeal to me. My understanding of the Metaverse concept by Neal Stepheson is rather limited. I am not a gamer, no. So maybe I am missing something when everyone else is pumped up about a virtual world of connectivity sitting on a plump couch.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for networking and I believe Facebook has done its fair share of that. It would be hypocritical to state otherwise. Since you will read this as part of my update on Facebook, I better make good with my words.
I digress. The following excerpt from techcrunch got me thinking, and thinking rather deep:
“After the gaming industry has worked out the VR interface kinks (there are a lot) and figured out how to develop credible, fully immersive experiences in a virtual world, it will be time to create something far more profound: the feeling of being “present” with your friends, colleagues and interesting strangers in virtual space.
Virtual reality will be compelling because it will be free-form in ways actual reality can never be. Want to fly around the buildings of San Francisco with your girlfriend? No problem. The Grand Canyon? Sure. Want to have that board meeting in the world’s fanciest boardroom? How about a tropical beach instead?
It gets pretty deep.”
Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. When someone says, “creating a virtual world that is profound”, I feel like a tenderfoot in new boots. At the end of it all, it is far from anything real. How does one equate it to the flesh and blood experience of being together with the one you love and cruise around the world? Someone please remove the blind side for me.
Would you trade your first real kiss for the one you could create out of an avatar? Or that feeling of jumping off of a plane for the very first time when the wind literally howls past you and your hair is standing on ends?
The author goes on to say, “Feeling present in virtual reality–your mind believing it is there–is unlike anything else, and that feeling will change the world in all sorts of crazy ways.”
I believe it will and I believe it will for the worse. I have seen countless number of people (including yours truly) immersed in a text when we are out at dinner with a special one, family or friends. Technology has a way of snatching it all away from you. You get happy in your seclusion and that is no way to live. We are social beings, yes, and we must always be cognizant of that. The day we believe and actively pursue anything that takes us away from the quintessential core of being human, we will “change the world in all sorts of crazy ways.”
In an attempt to shake this out of my head I am working on stories in real life. I will be sending out individual emails to all of you in the hope to solicit stories. Please share your most endearing one or your most secretive one or a simple heart-to-heart one. It doesn’t matter. As long as it involves real people from the real world, and it can move people, it will find a place.
If you would like to send me your story anonymously, please feel free to do so via email.