Opinion: The backlash of virtual reality


Samantha Karam is a sophomore journalism major. Contact her at [email protected]

Samantha Karam

Virtual reality allows users to immerse themselves in situations such as the fictitious realm of video games, which they would never get to experience in the real world. In the media, prestigious publications like The New York Times are using this technology to tell stories. I’ve watched my fair share of virtual reality stories and they’re effective. They get up close and personal with problems, like the refugee crisis, and feeling like I’m in that situation forces me to think about the issues it raises. Virtual reality has potential, if used properly, to be an opportunity that changes the world in a positive way.

However, I think virtual reality has a crucial negative to it that we need to acknowledge. Virtual reality separates us by bringing us closer. We have been discussing the negative effects of social media for what seems like forever, and I’m a firm supporter of the notion that social media is hindering our ability to have face-to-face conversations.

I think a lot of people are spending more time on their phones than experiencing real life and real people. For example, it’s now considered weird to talk to a stranger at the bus stop. Most people just stand there looking down at their phones. As we progress into the world of online socializing, we are forgetting how to communicate without a phone to save us from what we consider uncomfortable small talk.

That being said, virtual reality is one step further than traditional social media. As the technology advances, this virtual world is seeping into more of what we do. It’s already changing how we view and experience video games and the new. What happens when it becomes the main technology everything else is compared to?  

To experience virtual reality, you need to put on huge goggles and headphones. You block the rest of the world out and fully immerse yourself in an artificial world. At least with a phone, you can still walk around and see another real person’s face. With virtual reality, you’re seeing a different world. That’s exciting and it can be a great tool in telling a story. But I fear the day when we go home to watch television and it’s just us sitting on the couch wearing these huge goggles next to our family members wearing other huge goggles. No one will be talking, just consuming an artificial world.  

New technology is exciting, but I’m afraid the more we advance into the digital age, we will lose what makes us human.

Samantha Karam is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]