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Virtual reality

Do you find yourself spending more time in front of a computer than you’d like? I know I do, and how to break away from that will be the subject of another post … that I will write in front of a computer screen. Hmmm.

However, I notice that I use a computer for tasks of various sorts. Other than emailing, I don’t really use it to interact, or as a substitute for being in the “real world”. Lots of people do, though. Some are very involved in gaming, some subscribe to the program “Second Life”, which is an online virtual community, some spend more time with their MySpace or FaceBook friends than with their live ones.

I really didn’t realize how much the proliferation of computers is changing our perceptions until I read an article in my latest issue of Psychotherapy Networker. “Screenworld”, authored by Michael Ventura, explores the way our experience of the world is changing from tactile to virtual. He begins by describing a conversation with some graduate students who thought that they could experience Rome via computer just as thoroughly as if they were there in person. Later he notices how group after group of tourists at Arizona’s Petrified Forest seemed content to jump out of their cars, take a few pictures or videos, and jump back in, content that they had “experienced” the Painted Desert. Sound familiar?

It’s a very interesting article. Some caveats. It’s long, it’s directed at therapists, so some of the commentary may not interest you, and he’s fond of using a few expletives for effect here and there. But it’s interesting, and I think you’ll come away challenged by it. I’d be curious to know what you think. Please leave a comment if you like.

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