Reality is…

I was having a conversation today with some colleagues, where we were discussing a proposed virtual reality experience. As you may know, I am particularly keen on VR experiences that people share with each other, rather than ones they experience on their own.

So at some point in the conversation I said: “Reality is what we all agree it is.” After I said this, it struck me that this way of framing things is actually quite useful.

To be human is to be in a world of other humans. If your concept of reality differs in some essential way from everyone else’s, then you are alienated. Most people in that situation are quite unhappy, and find it hard to function.

When we are little children, we usually believe that “reality” is a fixed thing, tied mainly to the physical: This is a rock, that’s a tree. But as we grow up, we start to understand that the aspects of reality that really matter to us are the ones that allow us to interact with other people.

So as technology evolves, “reality” evolves along with it. In 2016, it is perfectly reasonable for you and me to have a conversational chat even when we are thousands of miles apart. In Shakespeare’s day that would not have been reasonable.

The same principle applies to all of the magical-sounding things that will soon become possible thanks to virtual and augmented reality. They won’t seem magical at all to people who grow up with them. They will simply be ordinary aspects of reality.

Because there is one thing about human existence that never changes: Reality is what we all agree it is.

2 Responses to “Reality is…”

  1. Jurie Horneman says:

    This reminds me of Robert Anton Wilson’s remark that reality is what you can get away with.

  2. admin says:

    Great quote, thanks! For some reason I had thought that was Donald Trump. :-)

Leave a Reply