Grants Pass, Oregon

Real, Or Not Real?

By Ryan Imel

According to whatis.techtarget.com, Virtual Reality (VR) “is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound.” It is said that VR was created for military pilots in training in hopes that the amount of canned million-dollar aircrafts would be minimized and the lives of trainees would be protected. It was only a matter of time until this fascinating technology would capture the attention of curious minds. There is also Augmented Reality (AR), which, instead of replacing your visual/audio with its own, takes your reality and adds to it, placing images and graphics before you as if they are floating objects. Although VR and AR are not entirely new, they currently are spiking in manufacturing and sales.

A Dream Come True!

The rise in popularity of VR and AR is no surprise to many including myself. I totally get it. Imagine instantly stepping into a world of your own. A world where “on” and “off” are at your fingertips. If you like it, step right in, stay as long as you like and fear no true consequences for your failures. If you don’t like it, exit immediately and never go back. Imagine a world where nothing really matters, or if you want it to matter, it will. Why? Because you, my friend, are the only “real” person in this place. Everything else you see is simply, well, not really there. In your world you could try all the things you could never do in real life. Like paint the air and make a floating masterpiece or fly like Superman into the clouds. Or defeat the enemies of the planet single-handed. When I was young I used to be able to control my dreams. If I wanted to fly, I would decide to do it and simply jump. The next thing I knew I was soaring over the mountains with the birds. I remember waking up so disappointed because I was awake and now disconnected from that “better” reality. VR makes this available to us! We don’t have to wait until we are asleep to experience this kind of freedom. Nor do we have to master the science of Lucid Dreaming. With VR, entering into a “dream world” is seamless.

Who Would Want to Disconnect?

As much as we all love the idea of immersing ourselves in an enhanced reality with no repercussions, we all know we can’t stay there. And like my disappointment in waking from a lucid dream, we reluctantly take the VR gear off when we know we should probably get back to boring old reality. Reality seems all too real when we have to show up to work in the morning, change diapers and pay bills. Now don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe most of us would consciously choose to think of our life, and the people in it, as merely obligatory or a bothersome snag while we’re on our way to the next “other-world” experience. I must confess my own frequent groaning with Solomon when he said, “I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). We can all relate to the distasteful experiences reality thrusts upon us such as disease, death and all kinds of destruction. With the recent shootings, many of us cry inwardly together with our heads slightly tipped back, as if to say (to someone), “What kind of reality is this?” Not to mention all manner of heart-pain that comes from the consequences of our own actions such as guilt, regret, fear and shame. With these kinds of unwanted elements of our current reality, who would want to disconnect from VR?

Better Questions.

What are we to do with this reality that we find ourselves in? How do we even make sense of it? Do we just long for a better day? Would it be wrong if we just buried and suppressed how we feel about reality? Are “fight or flight” our only two options? In the movie “Mockingjay Part 2,” Peeta, coming off of the aftermath of mind-poisoning torture, could not tell what was true and what was a lie. When he began to discover who he could trust, he began to describe his perception of reality and ask the question “Real, or not real?” Slowly and steadily, Peeta began to believe Katniss’ testimony when she would say “Real.” Now comes the powerful truth (reality) that our responses to our environment are dependent upon our perceptions, our lenses, if you will. See, we are all wearing lenses of perception. Our perceptions will stem from what we believe is true. But a better question than “What do you believe?” is “Who do you believe?” Every heart wanders like a beggar asking, “Real, or not real?” determined to believe someone. My exhortation; Believe the One who defines reality. Trust his account and His testimony of the world you live in. He alone possesses full knowledge of every event, down to the very intentions of the heart, from the origin of all reality as we know it. His account, His testimony, His declaration of “Real” is alone trustworthy, and it can be read straight from the pages of His word, The Holy Bible.

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