[This article is from 2016, and VR has not taken over the media world – yet. The rest, about being increasingly isolated from one another while being completely absorbed in “social” apps on devices very much applies in 2021.]
Shelly Palmer is a wonderful observer of technological change in our lives. He has written extensively on the changes in the delivery of entertainment and media content, and particularly about television. Today, he has made some predictions about the future impact of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and bots on the technology we all use today.
I worry that his predictions will make us even more isolated that we are today. He foresees a world where people will wear some form of (presumably unobtrusive) VR glasses that will essentially replace using video screens, making televisions and movie theaters obsolete or at least fundamentally different. I see rooms full of people having individual experiences, and not interacting with one another.
My wife hates when I put on headphones. It isolates me from her. She retaliates by becoming completely absorbed in something online.
We’ve become completely social, frequently at a distance. Experiences are shared privately and with masses.
Circling back to Shelly’s article, I see many people around me already totally consumed with their devices. As a technologist specialized in digital communication, I guess I’ve been working toward that. I worry that VR and AR will significantly aggravate this. Content consumption has always been at odds with other activities in life like driving, walking, doing much of anything else. Portable devices made doing and consuming content more compatible, but also made us more isolated.
We are overwhelmed with choices every moment of every day. If you are connected, you literally have the world at your fingertips. Time has not changed – there are still 24 hours in each day, 365 days in each year, according to our current Earth-centric measuring system.