The first month of 2021 will end next week. At the time that this blog post is being written, twenty-three days (five hundred and fifty hours) have gone by. For what? Answering this question can be as difficult as it can be disheartening. The ongoing (worsening) Covid crisis has slammed the brakes on the short-term hopes of a return to normalcy (the definition of "normalcy" as we know it might die this year) and rendered the conversion of actions into genuine progress even more difficult. This should not be surprising. Despite all the hype about the benefits of working from home and escaping a daily commute, most people are dependent on pre-determined routines to achieve their goals. There is nothing wrong with that since this is how the vast majority of individuals have been conditioned over the past fifty years if not more. Asking the average joe to change his routine entirely within a short period of time is like asking a heavy smoker to quit smoking on the next day. Do you seriously believe that he or she will be able to achieve that within twenty-four hours? Some individuals have adapted extremely well to the new conditions but they are still the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, this is due to highly advantageous freedoms that they already had before the pandemic (no kids, moderate to little financial stress, no major deterioration in personal relationships (divorces and separations have exploded during the crisis), living spaces that are larger than minimum requirements etc). But for most people, the "new normal" is an uphill battle that is unlikely to end in the foreseeable future. In fact, it might not end at all. Think about that for a second: even if the lockdown ends, so many changes will have taken place that life at home will remain a huge, and completely inescapable, part of the reality that we now face. This brings me to the key point of this blog post: the acceleration in the development of virtual reality over this decade as a critical component of upcoming new forms of escapism.
Google offers the following definition for escapism: "The tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy." Without resorting to scientific analysis, it can be reasonably assumed that the most common forms of escapism target sight and hearing. After all, most of them are delivered through electronic screens. That's why Netflix is so popular. A good Netflix show can engage sight and hearing to a very high degree especially if it connects to a recipient's core feelings. That engagement ends when the screen is switched off and the senses return to their initial state. But what if it becomes possible to push the engagement to a totally different level by getting the senses of taste, touch and smell involved as well? I'm not just talking about Netflix shows here but regular activities that people have more or less been deprived of over the past ten months: travelling, restaurant dining, sitting in a coffee shop...you name it. What if virtual reality evolves to a point where it can fill the current void for these activities? Can it happen? I believe it can. In fact, I think that it will surpass all expectations. Just as the generation born after 2000 is the one that is naturally connected to the internet, there will, at one point, be a generation that will be naturally connected to virtual reality. It might be hard to envision right now but will become less so as we progress towards 2030. Happy reading,
My latest novel, Market Dystopia, is available on the following links:
Intro video here