What is Reality?

By: Holly Walden

Virtual reality has moved from gaming niche to a technology that is applicable to many different fields. From education to the medical field, virtual reality is making strides in changing how we live our lives.

First off, I am incredibly skeptical of virtual reality. I do not game and I do not like spending too much time in front of a screen.  I think of the movie Wall-E whenever I think about virtual reality. Humans in wheel chairs because they are too large to walk, using virtual reality so human contact has become obsolete. How bad must our world be for us to resort to another reality? Movies and video games can take you out of your own reality for a while but they are not as immersive as virtual reality. I know that virtual reality is coming at all of us by force but is there a valid reason to be nervous about it?

The positives of virtual reality seem to outweigh the negatives. Psychologists use VR to treat their patients with post-traumatic stress disorder and VR is used on stroke patients as well. Burn patients play VR games during skin grafts and daily bandage cleaning so that they focus less on the intense pain that they are going through. Doctors themselves use VR to visualize difficult procedures.

For those in the communication industry, VR can revolutionize genuine connect between people. VR enables people to connect without stimuli distracting the other person. In a weird way VR can bring people closer and create better interactions between eachother.

With everything, there is a catch. Yes, virtual reality can be great when in the right hands. However, there are many cases of people getting hurt and breaking bones because no one was watching them while they were using VR. People try to break the record for being in VR for the longest amount of time. Like anything we need to use VR responsibly. If we immerse ourselves and rely on VR too much we will become even more slaves to technology, scooting in our wheel chairs, trying to escape from reality.

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This Article Has 9 Comments
  1. Yichi Zhang says:

    I watched the movie “Ready Player One” recently, there is no doubt that VR technologies are bringing us advanced experience and making us immersed in a whole different world. I tired some VR games at my friend’s place, it was incredible when I first saw the virtual world. I am agree with Holly about “the positives of virtual reality seem to outweigh the negatives”. VR provides us more opportunities to touch things that we never had a chance before, in various areas. It is helping us to expand the world, and to know more about ourselves. However, VR is a technology that we cannot rely on too much, since our experience in it is not real. So we need to find the balance to use it.

  2. Hannah Blair says:

    I found your post to be insightful as I did not know a lot about virtual reality. I laughed when I read the part about the movie Wall-E because that is also the first thing I think of in regards to virtual reality. I agree that it seems like there are more positives than negatives when it comes to virtual reality. I get what you are saying about not spending too much time in front of screens and VR is not real, so we should not be relying too heavily on it.

  3. Isabelle Shattuck says:

    Hi Holly! I really enjoyed reading your blog post; I as well don’t know that much about virtual reality but was happy to gain more insight of it. I too think virtual reality is a lot to wrap my head around but I do like how beneficial it is to some individuals. I think for stroke patients and PTSD victims VR really helps them to adjust to the world around them as well as helping them walk forward from the past. Your Wall-E reference is very accurate for thinking about VR since that is what I and many others think of the term “virtual reality” is mentioned.

  4. Robert Emmett says:

    Thanks Holly for providing this piece on VR. It’s kind of crazy to think about the future of VR and the impact it is going to have on all of us, both personally and professionally. I believe VR will have countless benefits for individuals and organizations as technology advances, but will also create certain drawbacks as it continues to grow and impact our lives. It will be interesting to follow the growth of VR and the influence it is going to have in our society.

  5. Elyssa Dziwak says:

    Hi Holly,
    I know very little about AI and VR so reading your blog post was really interesting! I’m aware that AI surrounds us every day, but I had no idea that VR was utilized in situations as intense as the medical field. I understand that you said the good of VR outways the bad, but I have to disagree. I like to believe that it could be a tool that connects us, but I fear that it does just the opposite. As you say, many people have obtained injuries by playing with this tool alone. I suppose if a rule were to be put in place where people are required to have other people present during VR immersion than that would work, but the likelihood of that happening is minimal. I’m looking forward to today’s class with Donna Davis to learn even more about VR! Thank you for writing about such an interesting and relevant subject.

  6. Rui Sun says:

    Hi Holly,
    I think this is a great post and you have strong personal opinion about VR. Virtual reality is most commonly used in entertainment applications such as video gaming and 3D cinema. In robotics, virtual reality has been used to control robots in telepresence and tele-robotic systems. In social sciences and psychology, virtual reality offers a cost-effective tool to study and replicate interactions in a controlled environment. In medicine, simulated VR surgical environments under the supervision of experts can provide effective and repeatable training at a low cost, allowing trainees to recognize and amend errors as they occur. However, there are many health and safety considerations of virtual reality. A number of unwanted symptoms have been caused by prolonged use of virtual reality, and these may have slowed proliferation of the technology, which means, even VR is helpful on different department, we cannot rely on it completely.

  7. Matthew McGonegal says:

    Holly, thank you for an interesting and insightful post. I can say that I shared your apprehension with virtual reality until I tried it myself. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to test a VR headset and simulation for FSL’s sexual violence prevention program. In this simulation, I was at a party where I interacted with characters until I was drugged and assaulted. Not only was this simulation a powerful way to learn about bystander intervention and consent, but it was also very realistic. Realistic enough that I made the mistake of trying to talk to the characters in the simulation and kept walking into objects in the room. So while VR can present a few safety risks, I think that the opportunities outweigh the negatives.

  8. Eva Pozarycki says:

    Great post, Holly! I have also been skeptical of VR, however Dr. Donna Davis and her experiences with it. I also like to think about what the future of VR might affect the communication industry.

  9. Jason Tseng says:

    This is an interesting insight for Virtual reality post. I interned in Japan’s virtual reality company last summer, and there is a new technology that can make the VR user smell the things they see in the VR world. This makes the VR world become a step closer to the real world. Maybe in the future, the world will really be like a movie “Ready Player One”. People might use the VR to communicate and there are lots of potential for the advertising area. It is also interesting to know some people might injure because of the VR, and hopefully, the VR company can figure the approach to reduce the injured.

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