Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 108

injuries and backbreaking labor. With Ocu- lus Go we get it for free. A real weaver in the Philippines pays for her immersion in the rich colors of the threads by decades of practice and monotonous, tedious work for dollars a day. We get it for free. A real parent pays for the wonder of their baby’s love in sleepless nights and countless sacrifices. We, the wearers of the Oculus Go headset, sacrifice nothing. cal and evolutionary accounts agree, that the stuff of creation was all rock and fire and water that became earth that became our bodies. The first human in Genesis was named Adam, which comes from the Hebrew word “adamah,” soil. We are earthlings. We are physical beings and everything that we are springs from the soil beneath our feet. We are literally what we eat. We are what we breathe. We are shaped by the billions of microorganisms who live in our guts. We are shaped by those whom we physi- cally touch. We are living in a material world and we are material beings. You might say that there’s nothing really wrong with this. That these are just fantasies and ev- eryone knows it. It’s just a taste. What’s wrong with playing? And to be When we deny this fair, virtual reality has fundamental truth, we been used for therapeu- Virtuality is becoming, not just do so at great risk and tic purposes. Domestic play, but a growing collective great cost. And deny abusers, in one applica- it we do. Virtuality is misunderstanding of what we are. tion, get to experience a becoming, not just play, virtual reality scene of a but a growing collec- larger man looming over tive misunderstanding of what we are. The them, threatening them. And they emerge from that better able to empathize with victims virtual world in so many ways seems better to us (and I don’t mean us as individuals, but and understand what they’ve done as abusers. us as a culture). Virtuality is unencumbered Aspiring pilots use flight simulators. Medical students learn in virtual surgical theatres. It’s a by the nuisances of location and history. Pic- ture the American highway. If you use a GPS beautiful thing because mistakes in that di- to get around you may never actually know mension won’t mean life or death. where you are. You follow the directions, turn But the notion of virtuality in our culture goes here, exit there, and arrive at your destination. way beyond these specialized applications. It’s like playing a video game. The highway With our virtual desktops and virtual naviga- stretches out infinitely in front of you. The road tion systems and virtual meetings and virtual on the screen becomes more real than the road gaming and virtual doctors and virtual com- beneath your wheels. munities and virtual assistants and virtual Everything in the virtual world has a kind of tours and virtual shopping, we are creating uniform sheen and sparkle. Instagram stars an entire parallel reality—a life overlay. It’s all get paid big bucks to convey a “lifestyle.” Even easier than real life and most of it is free or things that are supposed to be gritty and harsh close to free. We are Godlike, re-creating the like that image of the torn-up stairwell in a war world, but one level removed. zone has a kind of romantic shine. Everything But in fact, we are not God. And the universe is clean, and even when it’s made to look dirty of ones and zeros that we create is, put simply, that dirt never really sticks. You never get dirty not real. When God—or the wisdom-flow of and you never get hurt. If you run into trouble the cosmos—created the world we know, bibli- in a virtual community, you never have to be “ 108 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G ” WINTER 2019