I’ve been reading some future-casting this week about the coming virtual reality. I see a lot of potential in this technology and a lot of fun, too. For example, who wouldn’t want to have an all-immersive concert experience with their favorite artist? Imagine enjoying all the action from your front-row seat, endlessly repeatable and all without having that annoying person yakking in the background during the ballads, or having to clean gum off your shoes afterwards?
At the same time, I can’t help being reminded of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, in which interpersonal relationships (much less books) were being replaced by what he called “parlor walls”—gigantic big-screen TVs that filled entire rooms. The whole novel remains a brilliant and eerily prescient take on modern society:
The television is ‘real’. It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’
I’m leery of spending too much time consuming the products of other people’s imaginations. What would our lives look like if we took more time to think our own thoughts instead?
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