Imagine that you put on your glasses and BOOM! You enter another sphere of reality, an immersive VIRTUAL one, where everything works according to your wish! Where you can alter your looks by creating your digital avatar, meet new people, visit your dream destinations, socialise face-to-face with your friends from different continents, play your favourite sports with them, buy new assets there, attend meetings, spend quality time with your dear ones living far away - all from the comfort of your home!
In this tech-driven age, you won't find it hard to envision such a world, which is now on the verge of becoming a reality, thanks to advanced technologies like VIRTUAL REALITY (VR). We certainly have come a long way in the arena of technology. A few decades back, who thought it would be possible to connect with people miles away with just one click via a video call! Today, social media has penetrated our life to such an extent that it's hard to imagine life without them.
De-mystifying the Virtual World
There is buzz nowadays that the above-described VIRTUAL WORLD i.e., the technology simulated representation of the Real World, is going to be the new norm where you do not just see or hear but EXPERIENCE.
Let’s understand it by the example of social media. We access social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter etc. with our usernames or profiles. In the Virtual World, our digital avatars i.e., on-screen or virtual manifestations of the user with humanoid features, would be interacting and not our usernames. This technology would stimulate more and more senses, making sure that what our avatar experiences in the Virtual World, we get to experience nearly the same in Real World. Here, the characters would be real human beings, but the World would be entirely fictional.
Many of you might have already had a first-hand experience of this ever-evolving Virtual World, especially if you are a gaming geek. Big gaming companies have already taken a giant leap in bringing VR into the mainstream. Augmented Reality (AR) tech like Snapchat filters and games like Pokemon-Go have brought altered reality into the mainstream. Tech giants are trying their best to be at the top in the race of creating Virtual Worlds. Whosoever wins, Virtual World now seems like the inevitable future.
Let's dive deep into assessing what this new norm will bring forth.
Virtual World – a Wonderland
Just imagine the wonders associated with such an immersive technology coming into the mainstream. It’s not only going to revolutionise the way we socialise but also have enormous applications in fields like education, healthcare, work-culture, business, research, tourism, recreation, gaming and the list goes on.
If videos and presentations can make the learning experience so much more interesting and comprehensible then, we can only imagine how amazing it would be, when we’d be travelling to the places altogether in the virtual world to learn about them!
And with Virtual Reality therapy like VR travel experiences already helping elderly people in relieving anxiety & loneliness, and mental health patients in treating stress & post-traumatic disorders, the virtual world seems to have significant pros.
By now you would have started imagining your digital avatar… But, wait a minute.
Is this all? Or does it have a flip side just like all the other technological advancements?
The grim reality of the Virtual World
Do you ever get struck by the sudden realization of how life just passed by, while you were glued to your devices [phone, tablet, laptop] lost in the world of social media, intriguing apps & games? How it has affected our thoughts, physical activity, way of socialisation, our ambitions & most importantly, our mental peace! Even some mental illnesses like stress, depression and anxiety are linked to social media addiction.
But the upcoming Virtual World is even dicier! Just think, what exactly is a Virtual World? An imaginative world made by humans to satisfy their unending desires! Instead of regulating our desires, we have found new ways to keep on fulfilling them. But where does it lead us to?
Going away from the natural world and creating a false reality isn’t as cool as it seems! Virtual World could be used as an escape from reality, for creating false euphoria just like drugs and other intoxicating substances. And these things are always addictive, aren’t they?
Psychologists fear that addiction to the Virtual World can cause a huge risk of people losing their sanity, as VR would be harder to distinguish from reality. It could lead to hallucinations, mental illness and personality disorders.
Studies have already shown the disastrous effects of watching graphic violent scenes on human minds, which are normally used in games & movies. If such explicit content would be portrayed continuously in the Virtual World as well, it can desensitize the minds of people, leading to the normalization of crimes. Recent examples of this are the PUBG game and porn, where addicts tried to imitate these virtual things in the real world as well and became indulged in crimes.
Also, once we enter the Virtual World, we automatically provide a lot of personal data to these companies. They get information about every aspect of our lives and how we interact! This increases the risks like threat to privacy, intellectual property rights and personal injury. For example, seeing ads popping out of nowhere, about the things you just searched on Google, that too on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram leaves you baffled, right?
Besides, there are high chances that certain powerful people use VR to manipulate common people according to their self-interests. They can easily prime people with the information they choose, indirectly gaining control of their thoughts.
Other than this, people will miss out on real in-person connections for online ones.
No matter how simulating the technology gets, it cannot replace the real human sensations. Yes, a child can see his mother via video call, but can he get the same sweet experience of his mother feeding him with her own hands, through tech? No, that's a unique emotion in itself! There are some things exclusive to humans and better we let them remain so. We can't let machines overpower humanity.
But then again, we're living in the tech era. Resisting the ever-evolving tech is like falling behind in a world that is progressing at a sky-high pace, which we can't afford.
So, what's the way out? What can actually help in eliminating the cons of science & tech?
Science + Conscience = Real Progress
The main problem lies within the individual, inside the human mind. If the mind is not kept in check, it can lead the person toward vices. And if the person is filled with vices, it will show its true nature in whatever world they go! What is inside, will always reflect outside.
The ruined condition of this world right now will be the destiny of the Virtual world as well because the humans and their mindsets are the same; the vices of humans will do their work in VR as well. Take the recent news for example, in which a woman was gang-raped even in a Virtual World like Metaverse!
It is the need of the hour to destroy the vices and develop virtues within humans.
Also, what stops a person from being controlled by his vices?
We all have experienced a gut feeling or inner voice within us, which some of us may ignore, while others take guidance from it. That can be called a reflection of “Conscience” - a person’s moral sense which helps in discriminating between right and wrong.
Stronger the Conscience, the more virtuous the person is!
If our actions are guided by a strong conscience, virtues like wisdom and temperance start to develop within us and we start to protect ourselves from vices.
But how to be in contact with our Conscience - our inner voice?
How to make it strong enough to be guided by it?
The Ultimate Solution - BRAHMGYAN
There is a popular Cherokee legend, which talks about an advice which a Cherokee elder gave to his grandson about life. The legend goes like this, once a Cherokee elder teaching his grandson and said, “Son! There is constant fight which goes on within me. The fight is fierce as it is between two wolves. One is evil that pulls me deep into vices, while the other is wise, leading towards virtues. The same fight is going inside you and inside each person too.” Listening to this deep advice, the grandson instantly asked, “Grandpa! Which wolf will win?” The old chief replied “My son! The one you feed”. This small yet profound legend leads us to the answers we are looking for. The wise wolf is none other than our conscience. And to strengthen it we need to feed it. But how to feed it? Our ancient scriptures, which talk of a supreme science, beyond & above all material sciences, the Eternal Science of Self Realization - Brahmgyan. This is the ultimate technique which connects us to our real self, our SOUL. Connection with the Soul is the key to feed and strengthen the conscience. Once connected, the soul itself guides us in every step of life via the conscience or inner voice. It leads us to the path of righteousness and nurtures virtues within us, thus helping us break free from the cycle of addiction and experience true euphoria, the eternal bliss within ourselves.
And such a virtuous person filled with bliss, harmony and goodness inside, will bring bliss, harmony and goodness outside as well, in the surroundings!
To know more about the power of Brahmgyan (Divine Knowledge), you may visit the following link.
Rather than making new Worlds, for satiating our desires, let's first try to make the world in which we live a better place, through the tool of Brahmgyan! The need of the hour is not resisting new technologies, rather inculcating virtues that enable us to best use what's at our disposal. Therefore, let's turn inward and connect with our true self!
Whether you let things hijack your life or elevate it - it's always up to you!