Social media is a form of alternate reality; we can be anyone, make up new names, act differently, and create an avatar that may or may not look like us. I know of a few of my friends that have more than one Facebook account or play a significant amount of time playing World of Warcraft as a female, elf, and some other creatures. I am always a bit confused why my friends pick the characters they do or why they decided to have more than one social media account. This dichotomy made me think, if my friends, and many other people have this alter ego, what does the future hold for them.
In one of my previous post where I wrote about Second Life, I looked into how everyday people literally had a second-life. They were able to create avatars, make money, and even create their own mini worlds. In the article, I mentioned a little about Oculus VR and how many were using this as a virtual reality to see and interact with their virtual surroundings. Since this is still in its infancy, and currently only available to developers, it’s only a matter of time before these hit the market and people will start disconnecting from their physical reality.
Let me back up just a little. Exactly what is Oculus and why is it that I think that this is the future of social media. To explain this, let me first state that the internet is becoming an extension of ourselves. We use the internet almost as a central brain; we look at it for entertainment and to communicate with others (verbal, typed, and/or virtual face-to-face conversations). Unfortunately, all of these forms of communication are lacking one thing and that is a physical presence. Just imagine that you are having a conversation in a room by yourself with no one around. Try to explain that to your ancestors. With the lack of a physical presence, it has been studied that this type of communication is less effective in personal, as well as, professional communication. This is where I see the future of Oculus come into play, but will only surmise, as only time will tell. Maybe one day we will be able to say, “Siri, beam me to London!” to have physical face-to-face with a friend or a company meeting. As for now, the closest thing we will have, would be an Oculus VR connecting us to an avatar (or some kind of robot) where we would be able to look around the room, get up and move, and interact with others. The Oculus gives us the ability to see and encompass a majority of our senses and remote locate anywhere in the world. You may read this and laugh, but check out some of the YouTube videos of people wearing the Oculus and you will begin to see what I mean. These videos will show people falling over, losing balance, and laughing or crying because their brain cannot tell the difference between what they are experiencing and where they are currently.
How does this apply to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkdIn, and many others? Imagine with me that your phone vibrates and it is Facebook notifying you that your best friend shared an instant reality or “IR” of the wedding. You go home and go to your “VR-IR” room where you slip on your Oculus, lay down in your “VR-IR” chair, and find yourself at a beach in Maui watching your best friend getting married. Now this can be live or recorded and this would be the distinction between VR (recorded) or IR (Live). Instagram would work much in the same way, with the ability to experience the exact same setting as the person that took the picture. Twitter would give the option to see what the # was all about, #VRmonkeyflingingpoo. The “VR” would notify you that you can witness and see everyone else’s reaction to the monkey flinging his feces at random people. There could also be #IRstreamingofthe2020elections, where you could experience the debate and even the inauguration. LinkdIn would give the ability to tour the company you are interested in, interview with the CEO, Manager, etc. or see your new office space. These are just a few examples of what technology holds for the future and who knows if they will come true or if even we are currently experiencing something of this level right now.