If the title of this post alarms you, then I’m glad, because many people will shrug their shoulders and pass on.
However, I remember back in the early 90’s when Virtual Reality was first being touted as an exciting futuristic technology, I had an inkling of where things might go, even then.
Even back then, it was suggested that people could eventually don a VR headset and enter into an alternative 3D universe where their interaction with people and objects could be as near to reality as possible.
Of course, the ability to bring these things to reality in the 1990’s did not exist. Now it’s possible, and we are standing on the brink of another leap forward that some have described as similar to the “one small step for man…” moment when we reached for the moon.
The unstoppable advance of computing power, miniaturisation, software development, and the popularity of gaming in general all make this next step not only possible but very saleable.
It was one of those moments – the collision of several items of news, that add together in my head to a sum total. First I stumbled upon the announcement of a genuinely workable VR headset, and I watched the video of the eager developers praising this to the skies, in almost evangelical zeal to make that “giant leap for mankind” taking us into fully immersive virtual reality.
- It’s called the “Oculus Rift” and you can find out about it HERE.
I’m sure that the cognoscenti will take one glance at the Oculus logo and go “hmmmmm” just as I did!
The most advanced TV in the world
Then today in the newspaper I read this report, on the first sales of 4K TV, the “next-generation technology” that offers four times the resolution of current high-definition broadcasting, and 3D viewing of normal TV broadcasting. But 8K (eight-times resolution) is already in development. Current high-definition broadcast images are made up of approximately two million pixels, and 4K increases that to eight million, while 8K systems will double that again. 8K is understood to be at the limit of what the human eye can process.
The BBC is already filming Survival, their new wildlife series, in a new ultra-high definition format.
What caught my attention was this comment,
“The series, being made by the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol, will show how animals go through the same basic life stages as humans. …There’s a new reality which those images give. I think it makes the images more engaging. You feel you can almost touch them and get into the heads of the animals.”
This was almost identical to the comments made about the new Virtual Reality headset. In my private discussions on that topic before, I had said, it won’t be long before we see this incorporated into TV as well, so that all entertainment can be “immersive”. It took less time that I thought, because 4K TV has already arrived.
What’s The Problem?
Some of you may be thinking, what’s wrong with technological advance? It’s brought us laptops, ipods, mobile phones, wireless broadband and so on. We are now interconnected across the globe on an hourly basis.
Whether this is good or bad, we will let history decide, but it’s a fact that God had to correct this same situation way back in the days of the Tower of Babel, when all the world was of one language, and one mind and heart to defy God:
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Gen 11:5-9)
Nevertheless, global communication is back. We are now the ‘Global Village’ so beloved of the New Age Movement of the 1980’s.
No opinion, on any topic, is kept from us because it will be tweeted round the world instantly. No footage of disaster, collapse, revolution, bloodshed, whether tragic circumstances or joyful ones, is more than a click away.
If there is a fire in Australia, I can see it shortly after it begins. I can watch riots unfold minute by minute. I can watch a dictator being deposed or a king being enthroned in countries I hardly knew existed. Furthermore, there are people who see it as their aim to educate me about the ethics of what I’m watching!
This is a voyeuristic world in which nothing is private, and people learn ‘normality’ by what they see.
And what DO they see, more often than not? Murder, destruction, sexual perversion, bad behaviour of all kinds, and everything conspiring to portray life on earth as a kind of living hell.
Yet that ‘hell’ is normality now for many!
Isn’t it the case that the viral videos are more likely to be of suicide, accidents, abuse, immorality, or some kind of insane and perverted behaviour than of normal life?
TV programmes cater for the tastes of the majority, and too often those tastes are for just this kind of hellish reality. Have you been feeling, as I do, that TV programming (and the gaming market already entered this phase years ago) has become altogether darker?
The uplifting heartwarming programs are now few and far between and reserved for daytime TV, while almost everything else is in a competition to show more bloody, violent, criminal and immoral acts, and with the horror of life presented as entertainment.
Even nature programmes now have to be violent, with footage of slaughter and death, and it’s not exciting enough unless somebody is bitten, gored or stung.
Add to that the shows featuring the bizarre, the criminal, the immoral – the list goes on. Is there no end to the TV series and movies about vampires, witches, psychics, ghosts, monsters, aliens, zombies… and is there a modern drama that isn’t set in a post-apocalyptic nightmarish earth where the rule of law no longer exists?
And that brings me back to my initial thought about Virtual Reality:
Given that modern programming, and modern thought, is mostly about using psychic powers, killing or robbing others, or getting some kind of sexual gratification without a conscience or consequences, is that the kind of reality in which we are being encouraged to become “fully immersed” – even to the extent of a 24/7 experience? (That in any case was the hope of some developers on the Oculus site.)
Here’s a website with a pertinent comment on the DANGERS of VR (sorry that it’s from a Mormon, but try to overlook that, and see the truth in the facts. I have no connection or shared beliefs with the Church of Latter Day Saints.)
He quotes “The overpowering stimulation and excitement that virtual reality produces can lull the imagination and numb sympathetic feelings for pain and suffering” (Daisaku Ikeda, Soko Education (Santa Monica: Middleway Press, 2001), 53, and then he says:
“Virtual Reality is becoming more prominent and dangerous everyday. You can now assume a second identity online, marry a virtual wife, and even have virtual children. You can act as a Russian terrorist and run through airports killing innocent civilians. You can rob banks, gamble, hustle drugs or shoot people all in the name of fun. These are just a few of the developments of the ever growing, emotionally degrading and, morally demeaning virtual reality mediums.
“According to schoolteachers, many students are showing a decrease in natural emotion and affection due to their constant interaction with inanimate cyber-friends. Cyberspace can be a help, but when used in the wrong ways it can be very detrimental to our physical well-being. Virtual Reality truly minimizes the importance of our physical bodies and encourages people to waste their time. It causes people to stray from true relationships by focusing on the mind numbing effects of video games and online cyber-world”. (David A. Bednar)
Technology, in and of itself, is really no different to any other invention. It can be used for good or evil. Electricity can be used to heat your home or for an execution. However, technology in the hands of a lost world which is already on the brink of God’s judgement, can only bring more opportunities for the demonic manipulation of our minds and souls.
I can personally testify to the corrosive and dangerous effects of VR, having joined an online community many years ago in a futile attempt to build a Christian community there, to bring light to the darkness. (Oh yes, there are lots of VR churches! And VR Evangelists and Ministers!).
But over the years I saw the standards (what few there once were) plummet, and at the same time came the exponential increase of everything that is vile and depraved.
People could – willingly and with the participation of other real users – indulge in bestiality, paedophilia, adultery, cannibalism, slavery, rape, BDSM, homosexuality, prostitution – anything the mind could conceive was possible and actually happened.
Apart from this, any kind of social group – from Satanism, to Scientology, to Neo-Nazism, to Militant Islam – all could freely roam the VR worlds seeking both converts and opportunities to insult and slander others.
Yet the idea of sin and conscience seemingly doesn’t exist for people inside an alternate reality. They justify their behaviour by claiming that it wasn’t happening “in real life” or to “real people” – yet the power of imagination is such that if people can see and experience sin on the screen, their minds and souls are just as polluted by it AS IF IT REALLY HAPPENED. The effects on their bodies and spirits was just as damaging as if they’d gone out into the city and done the same things there!
And there lies the problem!! In Virtual Reality, anything goes, because nobody can stop you, and because there appear to be no consequences. To you or anybody else!
Yet all the while your life and thinking is being changed to adopt the hellish creed: “do what you will is the whole of the law”. This is a recreation of HELL ON EARTH. And people line up to go there, for “fun”.
Social Network Bullying
There has been a great fuss recently about the damage done to people, especially young people, on social networking sites. There have even been some well-publicised libel cases and calls to restrict the amount of hateful “trolling” that has brought some to the brink of suicide.
But consider the potential for harm – from bullying, verbal abuse, and actual damage to property (yes it can happen) – if the safety net of the real world is erased, and the virtual reality IS all that exists.
The weak go to the wall, and the hellish powers rule. And there is no defense, no escape, and no recourse to the power of the criminal courts there!
In that situation, the advice usually given is just “log off” and “switch off your computer”.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but young people can’t switch off! They are glued to electronic media from dawn to dusk. Many have no friends outside the internet, and wouldn’t dream of cutting themselves off from their computer. So they pay the price.
Virtual Reality in its infancy was exciting and offered many advantages. As a kind of introduction to the concept many – like me – played “The Sims” in the early years, and “Sim City” was a similar opportunity to build and enjoy an electronic homeland all of your own making. Then you could fly over your city in a helicopter or zoom down to walk its streets.
However, the people in the Sims game were not real. And YOU were not inside the Sim world. Later on, with software advances, it was possible to become a character in a game world yourself.
From this, an entirely new concept of gaming arose (now called Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game or MMORPG) which is a genre of role-playing video games where a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual game world.
The concept of becoming an onscreen “avatar” as these people are called (see above) and actually walking around and talking to others in a virtual world was novel. It opened up all kinds of possibilities for communication and personal interaction. (The most obvious one will have come to your mind at this point, I’m sure.)
Please take a look at the photo below, and the page on which it’s found, which tells us:
“The Oculus Rift VR headset isn’t even out yet, and enterprising developers are already excited at the prospects of providing more adult entertainment. … Case in point, Sinful Robot, a new start-up looking to “create the world’s most immersive virtual reality erotic encounters”.
Adult entertainment is still one of the largest industries in the U.S., and has led the development of new media going back as far as VHS.
Incorporating this aspect, and many others, one of the most popular
cesspits (sorry, online worlds) is World of Warcraft, the tone of which you can see from the illustration to the right:
The list of such games is now massive, and growing. Why?
For that very reason above – anyone, from any station in life, can shed their current persona and become whatever they please. There are no disabilities or inhibitions in the VR world. Change gender? No problem. Indulge in violent murderous behaviour? It’s encouraged. Practise the most depraved behaviour without fear of judgement or reprisals? Certainly!
Whereas in real life, such private fantasies have to be kept under control, in the virtual world they can be safely practised, even gaining approval and commendation!
No Sin, No Judgement
In an earlier age, a person who harboured sick imaginations would probably never find the opportunity to bring them out in real life, hampered by fear of the law and of judgement from society. But all that can be done away with in Virtual Society!
In this new world, there are no laws, no prisons, no judgements. It’s truly the world that satan himself invented, a hell on earth where mankind is freed from God’s straitjacket and encouraged to go to the full extent of his sinful human nature.
Gaming platforms such as Xbox too, take the player into another reality which is more often than not filled with violence. The law is non-existent and theft, murder and every kind of brutality is encouraged. Violence and selfishness rule! Succeeding means killing others. Every problem can be dealt with by weapons!
What is this teaching people about reality?
More to the point, what will be the result of putting players INTO that world? Is it not possible that the vile standards of those games and videos and alternate worlds will be accepted as normality, and then be transplanted back into whatever is left of the “real world” afterwards?
Those who have opened their minds – and bodies – to depravity and violence are much less likely to control themselves in real life. This danger will be multiplied a hundred-fold when “reality” is virtual, yet as real as normal life!
Wearing a headset, a player may now enter into an invented reality that he or she perceives as real, with all its 3D interaction intact. It will (I am sure) soon involve all the senses and not just sight as it becomes possible to touch, manipulate, and even smell and taste this virtual world.
We already have touch-screens, and the new 4K TV sets do away with the remote control, using hand gestures instead. But Samsung’s new TVs already use face recognition, gesture control and voice control so these interactions are nothing strange.
People will quickly expect to be involved INSIDE what they are viewing, and to manipulate it with their bodies (and minds eventually?) Many will come to accept these new realities as another expression of ordinary life.
Only the strong will maintain their sense of separation between what is real and what is not, and blurring this distinction is a major plank in the building of the New Order.
Is the very idea of “real life” going to be challenged, when those who spend almost all their time in another created universe believe that all life is an illusion, and that mankind can “create its own reality” by a corporate thought process or visualisation. (See just one page suggesting this, a common thread of new age type teaching)
Is the world being introduced to the satanic kingdom in advance, and being trained to accept it as reasonable and real? Are the last remnants of righteousness now to be eradicated by an open invitation to the most base behaviour that has no consequences either for self or for others?
I don’t feel that is far from the truth, so we should (at the very least for the sake of our children) be aware of what these developing technologies could eventually become, and what is their potential for harm.
You pipped me to the post on this one Tricia. I agree with your findings – working in the media I either work with this technology (4k) have tested it or seen demos and have been closely watching where it is going per scripture.
Despite that, I don’t have a TV. I WON’T have one. I haven’t had one for nearly 25 years – yet I work in the industry and know who produces what and keep up to date through trade press etc – especially as we sound the alarm. Keep up the good work.
Am writing on my android and having mega problems 😦 Unable to get to the gist of my text. Has taken half an hour to write this blurb…
A most timely post, if I may say so.
I have two grand children who visit very often. Getting them out of ‘boxes’ and TV/DVD’s is a difficult job indeed. One, a boy of ten, is already living life like Spiderman (?), his realities and personal perceptions so warped as to be a very great concern to my wife and I. He can slip into most any cartoon voice with such ease, it’s worrying. Yet this is the norm for so very many – encouraged of course by parents.
Have to add, one parent has a virtual existence that precludes the notion of work. So much for virtual reality – no one ever earns a living!
On the matter of online communities, I’m part of a small team building for the out of church people such as myself; however, tight moderation and more than adequate security are built in. Having been out of church for so many years, as I’m sure you’ll appreciate, the weakness is the lack of meeting with the brethren. If all we have world wide is online – while NWO permits – then it must be done respectfully, carefully, and in a most Godly manner with compassion and understanding. But reject utterly evil, abuse and anything which undermines the Body.