Will VR headsets and the ‘Metaverse’ separate us even more from physical human interaction?

Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 4:21 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The Oculus Quest 2 is a virtual reality headset that’s become a hot item this Christmas.

The device is owned by Meta, formally known as Facebook, and owner Mark Zuckerberg wants to take people into a virtual reality world called the Metaverse. But, could it separate us even more from physical human interaction?

From playing games with friends overseas to throwing a birthday party. It’s like you couldn’t be there but you’re there, sort of.

“Mark Zuckerberg says that in five to ten years the Metaverse will be where we all live work and play,” said Kakie Urch, associate professor of multi-media at the University of Kentucky.

You can create a character and play poker in space. Or go to a live concert with your best friend virtually. But, over time, will this technology pull us away from physical interaction?

“Social and human impact of the Metaverse could be devastating. It would certainly be an experience altering, much like the internet. Or it maybe, a saving thing that we are able to go places that are underwater due to global warming,” Urch said.

Urch says, on the other hand, society could have a virtual reality revolt.

“Where people say ‘this is enough,’ not only are we not going to the Metaverse we’re not going to stay on Facebook anymore, and maybe we are going to put our computers to the side and only work on them on our work jobs and grow gardens,” said Urch.

David Gonzalez, who works at Game X Change in Lexington, is a seller of the $300 Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. He has some advice for parents because he’s seen adults posing as kids in some VR worlds.

“You can’t just, sort of, go extremely one way of cutting them off from it or extremely letting them do whatever they want,” Gonzalez said. “If you monitor your kids’ activity, the chances of this happening lower dramatically.”

The concept of VR is nothing new, but where Zuckerberg wants to take it is out of this world.

“I think the idea as a whole is interesting seeing where it could go and the Metaverse as a whole is an amazing concept,” Gonzalez said.

Professor Kakie Urch believes Facebook, as we currently know it, will still be around. However, that could change as more people are drawn toward Metaverse in the future.

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