Get real…

January 31, 2022

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Generations will scarce believe that such a man (as Gandhi) ever in flesh and blood walked upon the Earth.”  (Albert Einstein)

I can’t believe that I was able to use a picture of Gandhi two posts in a row.

It is hard to understand how some people are able to disbelieve something happening or the existence of someone just because they did not see it for themselves. Some instead believe something that they heard from someone else or saw misrepresented somewhere else (mainly on the Internet).

I do remember Gandhi and the news coverage of him and his movement to free India from British rule. The first U.S. President that I can recall being aware of was Harry Truman at the end of his term in office. I remember what a newsworthy event it seemed to be when his daughter Margaret entertained guests in the White House. I remember when Dwight Eisenhower became President his love of golf made coverage of his golf outings a news event. I was in college when John F. Kennedy was President and remember vividly the day when he was killed. Trust me, those people all lived and I remember them – I saw them for myself (mainly on TV).

Not many people deny that those people existed, even if they were not alive at the time. Many events in history, on the other hand, seem more open to people believing or not believing that they ever took place, even those that have been well documented. Incredibly there are those who choose to believe that the Holocaust never happened, that was all made up somehow. Others believe that the landing on the moon never happened, that it was all an elaborate Hollywood studio trick.

Now we have people spouting all sorts of theories and false claims about things like COVID-19 and the 2020 election, which an unfortunately large number of people choose to believe. Those who buy into those theories and claims live in an alternative reality. So, we are all faced with living in what seems like a never-ending episode of that old Rod Serling show – The Twilight Zone. I remember the opening line – “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.”

So here we are, watching nightly news casts of people shouting and carrying signs against restrictions for a disease that they don’t believe exists or against the best medical advice, which they believe is a giant conspiracy somehow launched to try to control them. We see otherwise seemingly intelligent people continuing to rail against the official results of a long over election because their reality is different from what the facts (and several courts) indicate. We hear about complex conspiracies launched by hidden forces or people that aim to control our minds and our daily lives – alternative realities as far fetched as the Hollywood moon landing theories.

It seems to me that too many people never get past the question, “Is it possible…?” and don’t ask themselves the question, “Does it make sense…?” None of the currently popular conspiracy theories stand up to the cold logic of answering that question honestly. Theories that depend upon “someone, somehow, somewhere…” without identifying and verifying any of those variables just don’t hold water.

So, take the time to examine and question what you see on the Internet or hear from someone else before you let it settle into your mind as a belief that will guide your future behavior. Gandhi did walk the earth and men did walk on the moon and COVID-19 is a real disease that can kill you. That is the true reality. Don’t get trapped in the Twilight Zone of theories and lies. Get real.

Is it really living in Virtual Reality?

August 10, 2016

We live in a world where some of the most popular new things are being built around so-called Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR). The huge hit Pokemon Go is an Augmented Reality game that overlays a fantasy world over the top of real world AR1surrounding; a place where Pokemon Gyms pop up filled with imaginary monsters to be battled with and captured. On the horizon is the next step, which will divorce us completely from the real world and place us within totally imaginary worlds – virtual worlds – as Facebook and others work to develop the concept of Virtual Reality.

One is forced to wonder what is wrong with living in real reality. Perhaps the reality that we normally live within is just not exciting enough for us. It certainly can be as dangerous and any game; just watch the evening news to see the reports of the latest robberies, car-jackings and shootings in your area. I attribute some amount of the growth in these electronics-based reality alternatives to the decline in reading among the younger VR2generations especially.  People in earlier generations found their “virtual reality” in their minds when they read a good novel and they didn’t even have to have a smartphone or a pair of goggles. When one became enthralled in a good book, the story played out in our “mind’s eye” and not on some screen.

Perhaps, then, these modern electronic escapes into AR or VR are somehow the equivalent to an interactive, real-time novel that is playing out in front of our eyes and which requires that we not only visualize what is happening , but join in on the story.  Indeed, what we do in AR or VR space becomes a major part of the story. The human mind has the amazing ability to make that leap into virtual space and react to what it is “seeing”.  I’ve had a few VR experiences and can attest to that myself. I can also attest to the VR problems of experiencing vertigo and nausea, at times, when visiting VR spaces.

Aside from the current gaming phenomenon, AR has had a few relatively unsuccessful starts over the years.  The most recent and well know is probably Google Glasses, those nerdly-looking specs that provided additional information about things at which the wearer might be looking. That seemed to mirror the point of view of the original robot from the movie Terminator.  It was probably a bit annoying over time and likely had less real value that initially thought.

The current state and usefulness of AR and VR technology aside; one must ask why our own reality is not good enough to keep us entertained and happy? What is it about yourVR1 own life that you find so boring that you must venture out in search of Pokemon monsters to capture or wander about in some VR world? The creators of Pokemon Go state that they wanted to get gamers off the sofa and out in crowds where they could meet and interact with others. I suppose there is some of that, but it is hard to meet others when you are heads-down starting at your smartphone.

Perhaps if the game (and phone) sensed when other players were around and showed them on the near-by players’ screens they might look up and actually say hello. Maybe the game could even encourage cooperation among nearby players, so that ad hoc teams are formed on the fly. I’m relatively sure that the near-by players’ profiles could be easily shared with “teammates”.  Who knows, some players might even look up long enough to say “Hi” or get to know other players. They’d bounce back and forth between real and virtual reality and even that little bit of real life is better than none at all. Perhaps VR3Pokemon Go dates could be arranged, first in AR space and then in real life. I’m sure that the game could be extended to include extra points or skills or credit for couples on Pokemon Go dates. What a concept!

The ultimate state of living in Virtual Reality was well imagined in the movie series The Matrix and follow-ons. In that imaginary world most of the “real people” existed in a trance like state while their lives played out in a Virtual Reality world that was really a huge computer program. That program was infected with the Mr. Smith virus, which did battle in the virtual world with the escaped real people who were trying to rescue the world from the controlling computer and its robots.  For any who have had very realistic dreams (or nightmares) it is not all that hard to imagine living in such a dream-state virtual reality.

I can foresee useful avenues for entertainment and learning using AR and VR, but I also think that one has to get the “R” part down first, before venturing into augmented or reality2virtual space. People need to be able to deal with the reality of the life that they are living and not just trying to escape that life by jumping into a fantasy world. One must learn how to accept and cope and deal with real life in real situations, before taking on virtual challenges. Once you have mastered how to live in your real life, then you will be ready to take on the entertainment or learning of a new, virtual world. So, dip your toe into the realm of augmented or virtual reality, but do so from a firm foundation in the real world.

Here’s looking at you …I think.