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Living through VR. Why?
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Living through VR. Why?

Living life, or a sizeable portion thereof via the medium of virtual reality is a step an increasing number of people are taking. For some, the reasons for this are obvious. For others, they are not exactly obvious. This article is intended to cover a microcosm of the reasons a life lived in VR might be preferable to one lived outside VR.

Coming out of the shell

For some who are barely seen, a mediated life is a better life than the one they would have otherwise
- Howard Rheingold.

It is dangerous to mindlessly invalidate the experiences of a person for whom the internet is not a luxury, but a lifeline
- Howard Rheingold.

For those who have significant physical disabilities or dysfunction, and are plagued from anything from tics, to crutches, to life in a wheelchair, virtual worlds offer a great opportunity to be on a level playing field with other people. Any physical disability either does not show, or shows a lot less profoundly in virtual environments, allowing those who suffer to escape the stigma, or unwanted pity other people put upon them in the physical world, and truly be liked (or loathed) for who they are, not their appearance.

Further, those with severe disabilities cannot truly interact in the physical world as the extent of dysfunction in their bodies is too great. Usually stuck on benefit / welfare for the whole of their lives, these people still have as much, if not more desire than the average person to be useful, to achieve something.

The physical forms of people who suffer severe cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or multiple sclerosis to name but a few conditions, are so weakened and inhibited by the condition that it is exceptionally hard for them to interact in the physical world.

If the physical is all but taken out of the equation, and they deal with others by interfacing with a virtual world instead, then a short, deformed lady becomes a beauty queen, a wheelchair based man whose own body betrays him, is a strong, tall bodybuilder with a penchant for barbarian axes.

It offers a level of interaction, and equality with others, they could never hope to gain from the general public without the virtual, and it gives able minds trapped in dysfunctional shells, a virtual body as able as the mind, and the one they truly deserve.

To create a viable alternative way of viewing life.

Whilst society at large is more tolerant of different ways of living life these days than perhaps they have been in the past, and cultural prejudice is actionable in court, some lifestyles and belief systems still struggle to survive, usually in secret, or personal space as society is less than accepting - understandably in some cases.

Regardless, for a sizeable subset of humanity, a lifestyle significantly different from the one modern societies might call 'normal' is truly and deeply desired. Rather than forcing interaction between incompatible views, of which some might contravene laws set down by their local countries, such as public decency, or acceptable behaviour, many of the more intelligent members of thgese growing alternative lifestyles have taken their practices into the virtual. Here, it is possible to recreate an alternative lifestyle, ultimately in full, without it affecting the outside culture.

In other words, a virtual 'pocket universe' is arguably created, putting up a wall between two very different cultures, preventing culture interbleed, and in effect, saving both from damage.

Many such alternative ways of viewing life exist. Some of the more popular examples might be:

Furries

Furries are people who are anthropomorphic in belief. They attribute uniquely human characteristics and qualities to nonhuman beings, usually dogs, foxes, cats, horses and other familiar quadrupeds. Occasionally more fantastic creatures such as griffins, dragons, naga, centaurs and the like. Many, or most fantasize about being such creatures, and interacting with others that way.

Quite a few tattoo their bodies with the creature they feel closest to, and would love to be more like. VR allows this to go one stage further, and to actually allow happy and productive lifestyles lead through interaction with others as a humanoid animal. This alternate life-view is radically different to mainstream cultural norms, but it creates a happiness of world-view, and perfectly normal, and healthy interaction with others when it is thusly expressed.

Reality is fragile. Walls built between wildly differing realities protect both from disruption.

Gor

This alternative lifestyle usually provokes heated conflict when it collides with any other cultural view. Thusly, it perhaps serves more than most as a solid example of protecting an alternative world-view as much as protecting other, equally valid world-views via moving it's expression into VR. Gor is based on the age old romanticism principles that visualising a simpler life and more barbaric life as somehow better than the hectic, fast-paced one of modern mainstream society. It's core principles are honesty, loyalty, and respect for others. Something often not found outside police or aarmed forces environments. It is of no surprise then that it tends to attract these kinds of mindsets more than other walks of life.

The main point of conflict between the gor philosophy and others is it's endorcement of slavery as a natural part of life. This has, unsurprisingly, and understandably been vehemently rejected by many. It supports 'consentual slavery' which, whilst it might seem like an oxymoron, basically means complete voluntary, willful submission by one person to another.

Regardless, a naked woman on a leash being dragged along a street in any city in the physicval world is likely to attract the attention of blue flashing lights, as well as violating the common culture of the area.

Once again, moving it to a space dedicated to this lifestyle, a space in VR which has almost all the attributes of physical space, save that no non-gorean culture or lifestyle shares that space to interfere, and cause damage to both cultures, is present.

 

It is then not surprising that once a virtual system of sufficient depth and interaction is accessible the purveyors of that same alternate lifestyle flock to it in such numbers.

Virtual not only allows full realisation of a desired lifestyle, but it protects the physical from having to experience radical diversions from standard culture, where that diversion is perhaps too radical for standard culture to survive.

To escape the bonds of the physical world, and create that in which we would live.

The physical world is binding, full of invisible chains and responsibilities. There are meetings to attend, traffic jams to sit in, endless abusive, selfish or plain thick people to deal with, continually. There are mad laws, taxes, biased news reporting, the endless stream of unwanted advertising thrust under your nose, and waved across your face. People constantly telling you how to improve yourself, how to work, sometimes even telling you how to think.

Kids are screaming and running amuck - even when not your own. Drunken abusers, stalkers, and drug addicts roam the streets of most large cities. It is no wonder really that virtual release and escape holds so much appeal.

It takes people away from their regular cares and woes. The downsides to virtual existence are minimal in moderation, so people get sucked in to a much better, much simpler, or just much more pleasant life.

This of course leads to longer and longer spent in the virtual, until it becomes the majority lived life. Within it's bounds a life is crafted, complex and full. Yet lacking in the one or two elements that made the person's physical life a hell. From this, a better, happier fuller life is often lived, providing the virtual can cater for the person's needs, and generate enough income for them to sustain physical world costs from continued life.

Sometimes careers take off in the virtual, people find their future spouses, and lave a better life than they could have dreamed of from the original, physical life. The coin of course, has two sides, and sometimes people choose the wrong environment, unable to sustain them, resulting in severe financial woes and even death.

To make all fantasies reality.

Heartfelt dreams and yearnings. The desires at the root of who an individual is. Everyone has a dream, a goal, a fundamental desire in life. Not everyone reaches for it, many believing it unobtainable. Some are prevented by financial constraints, or the lack of certain technologies. Others limited by culture, lack of understanding, or even a body revolting against the rule of mind.

Whatever the dream, whatever the fantasy, virtual reality has the fundamental capability to bring it true. If no other available means can sustain your desire, your reason for being, this paradigm can nurture it and let it grow.

Staff Comments

 


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