Virtual Escapism

By Mark Nuyens
4 min. read📱 Technology

The Apple Vision Pro may signify a shift towards a new digital era, where virtual worlds are preferred over physical ones.

Last week, I tried the Apple Vision Pro for the first time, mostly thanks to my fiancée. She is currently researching the concept of the Sublime in relation to Virtual Reality (VR). And for those who aren’t familiar with the term 'sublime': it refers to experiences that are awe-inspiring and transcendent, leaving a lasting impression. The goal was to explore whether VR could provide such experiences. So what better headset to try this out with than the Apple Vision Pro?

The headset impressed me with its ability to create immersive virtual environments that felt almost real. I could walk around virtual objects as if they were floating in space. I witnessed Alicia Keys recording in a studio, played with dinosaurs, watched movies in a giant cinema, and even visited the moon, all in just under an hour. However, I also noticed a sense of isolation. I was alone in my own virtual world, unable to share the experience with others.

This isolation is a potential concern with VR. While it can provide immersive and awe-inspiring experiences, it also has the potential to become a form of escapism. As VR technology advances and becomes more affordable, it could become even more tempting to use it to replace our current, physical world. Just as smartphones and social media have replaced genuine human connection, VR could become a way to escape negative emotions and retreat into a virtual world.

The immersive nature of VR could make it more difficult to distinguish between the virtual and real worlds. This is obviously both a blessing and a curse, so it's not to say that VR is inherently bad. It also has the potential to be a powerful tool for education, entertainment, and communication. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of escapist behavior and to use VR in moderation, especially when it comes to younger people.

As a society, I believe we need to share our expectations and possibly set boundaries for VR use. We need to ensure that VR complements our physical lives without replacing them entirely. Meanwhile, we should keep investing in making the physical world around us a better place to live. If VR becomes too immersive and appealing, we may eventually come to neglect our own physical reality. I think it's important that we keep appreciating both worlds.

Younger generations will be the first to experience the challenges of VR. As older generations, it's our responsibility to guide them in using this technology responsibly, drawing from our own experiences and mistakes. Because if there's one lesson we've learned from tech companies, it's that they prioritize our attention above all else. By promoting a balanced use of VR, we can ensure it remains a tool for enhancing life, rather than replacing it.