The influence of the virtual world in our real world can be seen in any setting you go to. For instance entering a place such as a restaurant, you see most of the people are busy taking selfies, others “checking in” on the location and few calling and texting about something important.
The two worlds have mingled so much so that now separating the two realms seems impossible. The registration for something as basic as tenth standard board examinations is online. Many skill and hobby classes can be learned through the videos available online on platforms like YouTube and SkillShare. For writers, communities need not be like the Victorian coffee houses, but there is a wide range of community platforms available on the inter-web. The scope of the virtual world seems ever-increasing and it seems like that the Virtual world will only be more woven into our real world as time does its work on us and the worlds we live in.
My Information Technology teacher back in the fourth standard had told us about a concept chip that would be able to transfer tastes and smell through the inter-web. Now imagine the delicacies not just being forwarded through WhatsApp as a picture, but actually carrying the taste to sample it? Will our thirst and hunger be quenched through the smell and taste provided by the virtual world?
Then there was the tale that my mother shared with me, of an old man in the near future… In a world where everything was provided to man in the safety, security and comfort of their homes – need to exercise, a complete virtual gym is available through the Virtual Reality glasses, simulation and a Virtual Trainer that guides you through the entire workout routine. You want to go for a holiday, the same virtual glasses and simulation provides you with the tour of any place you want to visit – of course, some visits, which are purely exotic, may require special credits. Do you crave for the company of another and intellectual conversations? Well, your virtual companion would be ready to discuss any and every happening of the day. In such a world, where everything was within reach, yet so far, this old man decides to actually step out of the house – virtual world didn’t carry the spark of the real world. But what he was completely unaware of the fact that something as simple as stepping out of the house was considered illegal. The reason behind it was to maintain the peace that was hard to attain. Stepping out would just cause an unnecessary commotion.
The possibility of such a utopia makes me wonder; would all human needs be satisfied through an entirely virtual world? Even if we perceive it through the perspective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
For those who don’t know, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was given by Abraham Maslow, stated that when a person’s worldly needs are met – beginning with food, shelter and clothing – then the final step is self-actualization. Self-actualization is the ultimate need for all human beings.
So, will it be possible for us to achieve self-actualization through the virtual world?
This reminds me of the tale I had once read, where a man went for 25 years of exile inside a closed wooden cabin, with merely a piano and unlimited supply of books to win a bet. The unlimited supply of intellect through the world of books and complete loneliness led him to self-actualization, he learned that in the end, the world and the frailty of society would not provide something as elaborate as self-actualization.
Now, imagine yourself in a situation much similar, but through the lens of virtual reality, and simulation that is as close to reality as possible – but no companionship, no contact with the real world, real people or real emotions.
Everything you feel and sense is a figment of imagination that was created previously to stimulate only certain neurons of your brain – it was the same software embedded. Will it take away your ability to think? For when you read the words it is up to you how you feel them and up to you how you feel about them, but the virtual world would be a software embedded in the system that would be common to all – perhaps, the power of our cognition and perception will trump the methodical instructions of a VR and you might be able to see things in a different perspective when compared to the person next to you.
Every human creation has been found to have boons and banes, and virtual reality is the same. Is it taking away our connection from the human world? Are we losing the ability to observe, touch, sense and feel? Or is it doing an exact opposite of the stated and actually, enhancing the very abilities? The actual effect will be seen as it happens. Maybe you’d actually see this article through my eyes with your VR goggles on instead of reading it…