It’s 12:28 a.m. on June 10 in Brooklyn, New York. A Thursday. Overcast, though maybe that’s the only way I remember it. I’m sure there’s a way to check that in some weather file stored in a location readily available on the Internet for anyone tech-savvy; however, I decided not to examine it. Once, my English teacher read us a quote about creative non-fiction and how it is not really the author’s responsibility in the genre to get the facts right, but rather to provide an honest account of their experience. If I learned that it was raining that night, or perhaps a storm, that would greatly impact my confidence in sincerely reciting the rest of the story. How could they trust me as a narrator if I didn’t remember a detail as vivid and violent as a storm? Therefore, seeking this information would be reckless and immature. Aesthetically, emotionally, spiritually: I was covered. And I’m sick of talking about it.
I’m half drunk and my friend plays a DJ set. We are in his brother’s girlfriend’s apartment, although his brother also lives there. I remember thinking they should be taken quite seriously. My friend has put himself very well on the DJ recently, or so he tells me. The floor seems to have a steady buzz and the walls vibrate with every low shot emanating from their seemingly very expensive speakers. From time to time he exclaims something like “How crazy is that?” or “My friend made this song.” I remember admiring the aesthetic coherence of the apartment when I entered. Honestly, I thought the carpet really tied the room. I pondered how long it would take to accumulate enough capital to buy a rug. Not too long, I guessed.
I’m wearing an Oculus virtual reality headset.
My current goal is to kill two men who are running at me: one with a gun and one with clenched fists. I hesitate to call them men. They look more like minimalist polygonal mannequins, and they certainly lack the empathy or reason of the common man. The problem was this: the men (I decided to call them men) only moved when I moved, which was communicated to the game by the controllers surrounding each of my hands. In fact, everyone who now lived moved only to my agreement. When one of the men fired a bullet at me, I slowly knelt down and watched as my left ear quietly kicked. It was at this point that my friend informed me that I was approaching television, although this information did not particularly affect my next step. With a quick movement, I got up from my kneeling position and punched the man who fired the bullet in my face, destroying it into a thousand small spots of virtual matter. I grabbed the weapon that fell from the hands of the now extinct man before turning quickly and shooting the other enemy approaching his face, knocking him in the same line as his friend and causing the “full level” message. My friend took the opportunity this time to inform me once again of my whereabouts in relation to the television of his brother’s girlfriend, totally unaware of the feats of athletics he had just performed and the absolute carnage that occurred .
That night I felt weird walking home. I had a lot of thoughts going through my head. I briefly reflected on the idea that perhaps what I am currently experiencing as a reality is actually some simulation constructed from a not-so-distant technology, but I discarded the idea considering that it was ultimately a trite and boring thought. To be honestly honest, he had always been totally and utterly disinterested in virtual reality and the discourse around him. I felt the same about virtual reality as I did at Elon Musk or Bitcoin or veganism. I felt that those who wanted to talk about these issues (liberal media, Joe Rogan’s weird guys, etc.) were trying to sell me something, and by participating in it, I somehow benefited. I guess I still feel that way. I’m a little scared to think that my name will be attached to something that will probably be remembered while someone else was talking at the wheel of the larger virtual reality speech. However, there is no denying that I heard something on my short walk home that night. And if it made me feel something, it’s definitely worth writing about, right?
The quality of the technology surprised me first. Perhaps aided by the rhythm caused by the trance of my friend’s sonic music and the sedative nature of the dark beers I had been drinking all night, there was an honest moment where I felt completely immersed in the game. It was really like nothing I had experienced before, and I had to go through a time when I just recalibrated into the real world (“the real world”). For a computer bought at Walmart for $ 399.99 that I used with a slight tone of irony, I didn’t expect it.
I was also struck by my keen understanding at the time that this would have little or no effect in the future. I don’t mean it on an interpersonal level. Maybe in 50 years, our world will be uninhabitable and we will all turn to virtual reality to live the rest of our days in 4K UHD, myself included. This is not the kind of effect I was talking about. What I meant was that even when I went home disoriented and convinced that the real world didn’t look too different from the world I saw in my glasses, I still knew that when I woke up the next morning I wouldn’t care again about virtual reality. This made it more scary than technology.
To me, this seems like a very modern experience. Perhaps more modern than the actual experience of virtual reality. It’s really amazing how perfectly I can go from what should be a transcendental experience. How can I do FaceTime to my mom or turn on the light in my bathroom without hands or listen to Mozart using a mystical device called “bluetooth” while walking through a technological wasteland I could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. But in a world of vaccines and nine different ones Fast and furious the movies and the burning ocean and the NFTs and Twitter’s bad speech, I guess that’s natural. There are too many things, too many ideas, too many people, too many Fast and furious movies, too many things. Indifference to things as trivial as virtual reality to me feels almost like a form of self-preservation.
This is almost certainly a bad thing. Oculus, the market-leading product in virtual reality technology, was acquired in 2014 by Facebook, one of the most notorious companies in the world. I don’t even mind reflecting on the possible inconveniences of a company like Facebook that owns a device that aims to literally alter our sense of reality, even though my intuition tells me that this doesn’t have to be good. .
And yet I can’t attend to it. I can’t worry about technology, advances, drawbacks, debates, cultural relevance, my experience with it, anything. Because yesterday I went into a reality coded by some geeks on Facebook and tomorrow California may burn, or a new TikTok trend may spark a nationwide debate about the ethics of sugar cereal consumption, or there may be a fall surprise of Fast and Furious 10: Really Fast. And ultimately, if I ever feel like humorizing prolonged thoughts about virtual reality, I’m sure I’ll get a New York Post article entitled, “Forget virtual reality (yawn), the future is in plastics, baby!” And the cycle repeats itself.
Maybe this article is aging badly. In fact, I’m pretty sure he will. Perhaps virtual reality is really our destiny and the ethics that surround it is the most urgent issue of modern times. That wouldn’t surprise me. I don’t pretend to know these things. I just want to express to you, reader, that I have lived the other side and that I have recovered it. And it was awesome, groundbreaking, terrifying, exhilarating, unforgettable and awesome. And to me, not behind an appearance of freshness or a desire to pose as an essayist who knows everything, I don’t care at all. This is the superpower or tragedy of our generation. That’s why our parents tell us right. This may be bad for the world. However, it seems to me our only defense mechanism against the absolutely crazy, absolutely crazy world that has been handed down to us. He is not brave, nor noble, nor even virtuous, but he is necessary. I would be much more willing to talk about this point. He seems mature with the dispute. But on the subject of virtual reality, I will continue to do as I have always done: take a look.
You can contact the deputy editor of the statement, Leo Krinsky, at [email protected]