A footnote to history

When you put an adult into VR for the first time, there often seems to be some sort of difficult moment when they are asking themselves whether its ok to be there.

In contrast, when you put kids in VR, they go crazy. To them it’s the best thing ever, and they take to the experience like a duck takes to water.

What’s even more interesting is that if they are really little kids, they don’t even go crazy for VR. They just accept it as another reality, like TV or movies or the games on their iPad. It just makes inherent sense to little kids that they can enter a completely different world, one with magical properties.

Today, during a panel discussion that I was moderating, somebody asked what we should do about all the adults who refuse even to try VR, and who therefore never know whether they would like it or not. And I had a very specific thought in response to that question, which I did not speak out loud.

I thought about the widespread adoption of the telephone over a century ago. And then I thought about those people who thought of it as crazy and disruptive, and who therefore refused to ever use it.

And I found that I just didn’t care about those people. They didn’t matter, because telephony did matter. It ended up rapidly evolving from a curiosity to a cornerstone of modern communication. And that meant that it became inextricably woven into the fabric of society itself.

If that happens with some version of VR (which I think it will) then people who refuse even to use it will cease to matter. They will become a footnote to history, an archaic artifact of a bygone age.