Steering Our Virtual Voyage
Steering our virtual voyage calls us to evaluate our relationship with technology. And maybe find balance between our humanity and need for innovation.
Progress is a constant in our world, its hum the background soundtrack to our lives. Amidst this steady march forward, there’s a growing fascination with quick, easy solutions—the allure of immediate gratification that our ‘fast-food’ culture symbolizes. But in our quest for these instant fixes, are we forgetting something fundamental?
That something might be our presence, our connection with the here and now. Increasingly, we’re drawn to the seductive allure of alternate realities. We’re captivated by the promise of exploring uncharted territories, much like the Star Trek ethos. And yet the real unknown is within each of us, waiting to be explored. Our hearts are our most reliable navigation tools, deeply grounded in our physical bodies.
However, as we become immersed in these external worlds, do we risk losing touch with our own voyage? Maybe it’s not an either/or scenario but an opportunity for integration.
When we embrace our innate wisdom and tap into our deep-rooted purpose, we awaken an authentic, passionate, and creative vitality within us right here. And when we get real, we decide whether to make our life a journey of resilience and beauty, or one of conformity to the pressures dictating us to conform, produce, consume, and keep up appearances. It’s up to us to decide whether we merely go through the motions of life or truly come alive.
Balancing Our Virtual Voyage
Virtual Reality (VR) goggles promise to transport us to alternate dimensions. However, they often draw us away from the reality that matters most—the one we exist in right now. Our growing obsession with virtual worlds risks turning into an escape, severing us from the world we inhabit.
That’s why the idea of taking a ‘technology detox’ in Nature often appears as a cure-all. But the truth is, we’re not separate from Nature. Rather, we’ve conditioned ourselves to draw that separation, to disconnect from our natural environment. Ancient tools, such as dialogue, connection, trust and flow, are readily accessible to us all, reminding us of our inherent unity with Nature.
Having been in the VR industry, I’ve witnessed its potential firsthand. I assisted a start-up investor with an ‘ethical’ headset venture. However, I helped uncover the leader’s lack of ethics, leading to his removal. Through it all, we recognized the potential of VR for educational purposes, but only when we remain in control, and the technology simply facilitates our experiences.
Any device designed to commandeer our two most crucial senses—sight and hearing—carries an inherent responsibility to be socially responsible and ethical.
With Apple’s recent Vision Pro, there is a focus on the revolutionary technology. The goggles, instead of being a tool, are being positioned as a social norm. Apple’s attempt to normalize ‘projection’ of our eyes onto another person, while our actual gaze is locked behind the virtual screen, hints at a concerning societal shift. Is it not akin to promoting the idea of being physically present but mentally absent? Are we giving our power to a virtual voyage technology to not just augment our experiences, but to redefine basic human relationships?
Life is to Be Experienced
Certainly, there’s a time and place for zoning out, for losing ourselves in solitary pursuits. But when interacting with each other, presence counts.
Genuine human connection requires us to be present, to make eye contact, to truly engage. Technology can facilitate these connections, not replace them.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau reminds us that “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” And curiosity allows us to trek into the unknown and challenge the status quo in all dimensions. What if in healthcare we imagine, for example, VR provides instructional content and training, including mental health? And in education, we engage in a social, collaborative, and active learning environment?
As we explore the virtual world, let’s step into our humanity. It’s crucial to keep our use of technology in check, striking a balance between the virtual and the real, between convenience and presence, between innovation and humanity.
When we want to free water of pollution to its original sparkling state, we don’t add clarity, we release the pollution. The same can be said about humanity.
At its core, life is about being truly present, awake, aware, and connected to the reality around us. So let’s continue to move forward, but let’s do so while remaining mindful of our own power. After all, there’s no virtual substitute for the beauty of a genuine human connection. And maybe we are all already in heaven and there is no need to escape or numb ourselves.