Today one thing we are all drawn to think about is this sense of loneliness that pervades with social media. With growing melancholy, each of us, meandering slowly into a state of self-conformed isolation. When working long hours by yourself, stuck behind a computer in a room in a house, or perhaps during unfilled evenings, you may find yourself drawn to Facebook or checking emails etc: This is a lust for social interaction. It's a lust born from atavistic desires, the longing and necessity for community that is twice-trodden into the wellbeing of all humans and other beings. However, clicking through status updates, messaging long-lost friends - a solemn coldness is born of it all, and rather than fulfilling our lust we are left a little cold underneath.
'Her' comes to grips with this sense and shakes it in a not-too-distant future setting. It's not a fantastic film, a little unformed round the edges, but it does provoke questions in the way it envisions a plausible near-future.
One thing that has concerned me recently regarding all this push towards a strange & detached future we're building for ourselves, is virtual reality headsets. I think right now they personify our vision and where we are headed. VR headsets will raise even more questions (and hopefully answer a few) about us and our needs. For example with a VR headset we will be able to lunch in East-side Manhattan, take an evening stroll along the Rialto and sleep in the comfort of our own beds; or perhaps have a dinner-date with a pal half way across the world, look around the restaurant, interact with other virtual-real people - imagine a virtual world populated with real people all walking around and interacting from the comfort of their own front room.
I have contradictory feelings towards it, on the one hand the teenage boy inside of me rears his head and shouts 'Wow! Amazing' It's the same way I feel about cloning; it's messed up, the wrong path to tread for what we truly desire (contentment, peace), however its bloody marvelous and a testament to the genius of humans; we have gone so far down this path why not push it as far as we can and see what happens, perhaps that will be the footnote of the human lifespan of this Earth.
On the otherhand though I feel it'll only raise more questions about what humans really need. VR Headsets will further the question Facebook proposes & the lust for social interaction. Despite all this interaction and lottery of possibilities, will we too, when we remove the helmet and feel the real world, really be left cold and detached? In social interaction, is there something tangible in 'feeling' the other person, their energy & subconscious bonds? & if so will all this technology really offer any solutions or just further the chasm?
Anywho, one other thing that's raised is the thought (which I hadn't considered before) but if each of us had a device in our pocket that was so alive, so interested in us, new us personally & hung on every word, would that be of some beneficiary to our way of being? A personal PA that is unintrusive and dedicated to pushing us, caring about us etc. Would that make us all better? And if so who has the right sensibility and wisdom to design the psyche of such a tool? What virtues would be placated as THE virtues?
With visions of the future, utopian or otherwise, I am always drawn to recall Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The wearing of VR headsets, the fulfilling our time with distraction, is just another version of his Soma. It's just another way we can come home from work and distract ourselves until the next day. Or is it? Who knows.
Some wise words from the Dalai Lama: