Is Reality Enough?
In an article from the New York Times titled, “Go Directly, Digitally to Jail? Classic Toys Learn New Clicks” the topic of how children’s toys are becoming more integrated with technology is discussed. Specifically, children no longer are simply just playing with their physical toys but are now interacting toys with mobile devices. For Monopoly there are now iPhone apps available that count everyones money (I guess it stops people from stealing from the bank!). In Barbie, there is a lens in her back and the captured camera image appears on the front of Barbie’s T-shirt. The topic that most caught my attention though, was an app for Apple products that shows “live video of the environment overlaid with graphics”. An example of this would be a child pretending to shoot his TV and the TV blows up on the Apple product display screen. Could this new app possibly be a step towards virtual reality becoming the preferred reality for the younger generation as in Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”? In “The Veldt”, there is a nursery room in which “Whatever you thought would appear” (pg. 164). I interpreted this to be symbolic for the increasing stake children have in the consumer landscape (preteen children bought $30 billion worth of goods in 2002. pg. 176) and companies producing products rapidly to satisfy there wants. If children start to prefer virtual reality, then virtual reality will be produced. The parents in “The Veldt” become scared when the virtual environment has become “a little to real” (pg. 162), and I sense that actual parents will too, become scared. I would not blame them either because as human-beings we have a socially internal need to be, not only with each other but, with nature. Bradbury refers to this bond as “living” (pg. 169). I cannot further articulate what the social bond with other living things is so I will borrow an excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature”, “In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintences, master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”
However, hypothetically, if virtual reality does advance so much that it is impossible to decipher it from actual reality, who decides this is a bad thing? Who decides that the feeling of reality is not as good as reality itself?
Video of “Bad Robot Interactive App” that lets you stream “live video of the environment overlaid with graphics”. From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjra0Fw_Anw