January 27th, 2014

another world

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is so radically different than concrete reality that you have to abandon some beliefs which may be "solid" to you, in order to survive, and thrive, in it.

Virtual reality is a playground for the mind and heart, rather than the body. Certain restrictions you are used to in concrete reality do not apply in the virtual. For instance, the way our bodies are shaped in the concrete cannot be changed except, possibly, through surgery, so gender presentation is pretty constant. It is perhaps the "plight" of the transgender that this trait can be changed, because human beings are pretty much hardwired to recognize gender presentation by the overall shape and characteristics of a person's body - so if someone goes through surgery and hormone therapy to change all that, it fucks with other human beings at the very animal and instinctual level. The only way to really deal with this is to exert your own sentience upon your inner animal and tell it to STFU and stop making you want to go homicidal.

In virtual reality, what and who you are is entirely up to you and your imagination. While a fair amount of people choose to present their gender as it is in the concrete, many choose to open up their horizons and experiment. Some choose another gender identity altogether. Others choose to switch back, forth, and in some cases, present both. Again, this can fuck with our instinctual animalistic selves living in our brain stem. Virtual reality requires - heck, it demands - that we exert our sentience over that instinctual reaction. Many do so and have no problems adapting. Some either cannot, or will not, do so, and allow their instinctual reaction to take control.

The people who choose to be as close to their concrete selves as possible - and who won't tolerate others who want to experiment and experience - those I term the "real humans" of virtual reality. It leaves one wondering why they would venture into a space which has endless possibilities, only to be essentially what they were born as.

One "rule" you adapt to in virtual reality is the idea that a person's gender is however they present themselves. If their characteristics are essentially female, you address them as female. If they're essentially male, you address them as male. It ceases to matter what they "really" are on the other side of the keyboard. The respectful thing is to address them as they present themselves.

Once you get over that hurdle, then the "multiple shades" start - e.g., they don't have to be human at all. They can be any number of creatures, both fantasy and "real" - and even combinations thereof that have never existed before, and never would, outside of virtual reality. The vistas for individualism open wide and many embrace them, while some just look on and cannot seem to understand, nor accept, why anyone would go those routes.

Normally this is not a problem, as there is limitless room for all types within virtual reality. The only time it becomes a problem is when people try to narrow the focus and fit everyone else into that focus.

Virtual reality is not for the faint at heart, nor is it for those who possess a very strict, closed system of beliefs, and yet we find both types within virtual reality. Is there a place for them? Most assuredly. One just has to ask that if they cannot handle the idea of limitless variety as far as the human mind can reach, then they need to stay in the areas where they feel the safest and let others play to their heart's desire. It's when they wander out and try to force others to their set of beliefs that all kinds of trouble starts. The reverse is true, as well. There are those who celebrate diversity to the point where they want everyone to experience it and sometimes try to force it on others.

The key here, as in all situations, is a basic level of respect. Everyone has a right to what they believe and will tolerate, even if the same strictures would drive you totally insane (or the same wide-openness). To truly survive, one has to find a place where they're willing to defend another person's right to be exactly as they are, even if to be that way would totally go against your grain. If their environment bothers you - don't go there. If your environment bothers them, they best keep away.

Again, a problem arises when individuals think they can go where "their" angels fear to tread and "shed some light". What is, to some, light, is nothing but an unwelcome glare to others. Doing so crosses the line of basic respect and of giving other people the space to be exactly who they want to be.

Those who survive the best in virtual reality are those who accept that anything and everything is possible, that they are not required to accept it all, anymore than anyone else is required to accept whatever they come up with. It's that basic level of respect, again.

If you don't have a solid set of morals and a basic respect for others, you have the capability of causing great damage to others. For some, that is exactly why they come to virtual reality - to vomit upon humanity that which vexes them the most. It's a shame, but the only thing you can do is avoid such individuals at all cost. Sometimes they seem altogether too numerous and this is because they tend to be the loudest.

By morals, I don't necessarily mean those dictated by some religious sect. I mean a basic nature not to do harm, and to give others the room to be themselves.

And yes, it's very hard to write this from an unbiased view, especially when I've seen people do harm to others either out of lacking a sense of what virtual reality is all about, sometimes, out of a sense of imagined power in virtual reality, or just because it's easier to hurt a bunch of strangers than to strike back at whomever is hurting you in the concrete.

It is impossible to explain virtual reality to a person who has yet to experience it. Yes, it is something to be experienced to truly understand. My best advice is to discard everything at the virtual door, save an acceptance of difference and an adventuring heart.

Virtual reality isn't for everyone.