Looking Back on Virtual Reality

My grandson using a cardboard VR headset.

My grandson using a cardboard VR headset.

When my kids were teenagers I used to wonder why they spent all their time on Snapchat, Peach, and Tinder, but it’s been fun to watch them fret over their kids’ obsession with virtual reality.

While my kids grew up playing Minecraft, my grandkids have grew up in Minecraft. For what it’s worth, I enjoy hanging out online. I have a house on Mars right next to Elon Musk.

When I was young Facebook was something you looked at through a screen. It seems so primitive now, kind of how books seemed to us when dial-up first came around.

I remember when I got my first headset (this was before VR contact lenses came out). Facebook had just started allowing people to meet virtually in rooms.

At first it was simple. You could change the background on the walls and swap out chairs and furniture. It was kind of like The Sims. But then people started wanting to go “outside”.

That’s when Facebook launched Oculus Outside, the online realm where we all now spend most of our time. 

It seems odd that we all used to drive to work. At least now when we do need to go somewhere that driverless cars allow us to stay jacked in.

I’ve tried different gear over the years – from Samsung to Microsoft – but my favorite is Nintendo.

Nintendo mistakenly missed out on the mobile app phenomenon from 2007-2017, but leapfrogged and dominated VR starting in 2018 just as self driving cars started gaining popularity in America.

I’m young enough to remember the NES and what it was like to play Super Mario Bros the first time. Now I help people who get stuck on Super Mario Planet as a full time job.

If someone would have told me when I was 35 that when I was 65 I’d be doing virtual tech support for avatars inside a virtual world I would have said, “Only in The SDN.”

Nightwalking

I like breakfast. I like it so much I started making an app to help me find biscuits and gravy. I talk about biscuits and gravy so much I rank higher than Hardee’s.com.

I own the hashtag #passmeabiscuit on social media. One of my favorite restaurants is Lambert’s Cafe “Home of the Throwed Rolls.” But I gave all of that up.

When I was young I thought big. I thought I’d own a large, vertical empire of companies. Instead of paying for gravel, I’d own a mining company. Instead of paying for contractors, I’d own a construction company.

I wanted to own a mansion with not just one basement, but several layers of basement, kind of like the uber-wealthy in London do today. I have this thing about digging. I like to dig. Sometimes I think the only way out is down.

Every spring for the last 2 years I’ve played Minecraft. I like to build roads. When I first started to drive I’d fantasize about building new roads, straighter roads. I wanted to connect more places. I’m a connector.

I like meeting new people and connecting people I’ve met with new people I’ve met. I guess this makes me a networker. I like to encourage people. I’m an encourager. I’m an introvert. I recharge when I’m alone, but sometimes I get lonely.

I live in Tipton. It’s a small town, but I’m not there that often. When I’m there I’m mostly at home, but sometimes I go for walks. There isn’t much places to go, but sometimes, at night, in the summer, there’s an intersection where you can find people. I go there sometimes.

I’m not sure it’s be too different if I lived in Indianapolis. I’d still have to leave the house. I’d still have to find that intersection where people hang out. The nice thing about roads is that they all lead somewhere. You just have to keep going.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

If you’ve ever found yourself in a sticky situation where both choices are hard, I can relate.

This can happen both with emotional choices, financial choices, but also with physical objects.

I once worked for a furniture store. One day while delivering a couch I found my head stuck between the bottom of the couch and the top of a stair. I thought, “This would make a good story someday.”

Once when I was working as a maintenance man at a summer camp I found myself with my head between the toilet and the floor. I thought to myself, “I’ve got to tell my friends about this when I get back.”

I have lots of stories to tell because I’ve been in a lot of weird places and had to make a lot of hard choices.

Do I wish I could have an easy life? Yes. Does an easy life help you grow? Maybe not.

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, which tells stories about people who have grown up or encountered hard conditions that have helped them in life.

One question Gladwell asks is, ‘Would you want your child to grow up with this hardship if you knew it makes them better off?’ He knows the answer is “no”, but the book is about how good can come from bad.

I have seen this in my own life, which hasn’t been all that hard, but I have had some hard times. It is through difficulty that we learn and grow and change. And it makes the good times all the sweeter.