Long-distance relationships are tricky to navigate. Phone calls, even video chats, aren't a suitable replacement for physical presence. That lack of closeness can rip some couples apart. Luckily, VR simulates physical presence better than anything before it, which bodes well for couples trying to erase the space between them, and surprisingly I'm not even talking about the porn stuff I mentioned before.
Writer Nathan Grayson uses virtual reality to stay in contact with his girlfriend overseas. His experience thus far has been bizarre and touching. Using a VR social network called AltspaceVR, they've been able to establish something that feels akin to an actual physical presence even though their avatars are that of a generic blond guy and a floating ball.
This was their Christmas card.
They hold hands, even though they can't feel other's touch. They stare deeply into each other's eyes even though it's all generic cartoon face and floating ball staring back. Somehow, it works. They get something that sounds like and has the mannerisms of the person they miss. It's like they're there, and they don't even have to smell each other's farts, which is a plus for anyone in a long-term relationship.
At one point she glitched out of a room and he continued on adventuring without her, sparking the kind of argument about selfishness a lot of people in relationships have probably had in real life. The most fascinating part was when Grayson's girlfriend was playfully swatting the virtual hand of another man. It was innocent fun. Just two people who couldn't believe something as simple as fake hand slapping could feel so real. But Grayson felt actual jealousy in virtual reality.
The most startling fact to come out of his account is that he's describing a normal relationship. There is no dystopian sci-fi twist that makes it depressing. No one's brain has been uploaded into a VR avatar that's siphoning enough intelligence from the internet to wipe out the human race. They have an ocean between them but remain as close as ever, just in a nontraditional way. Maybe normalcy is the twist. If that's the future we're in for, it doesn't sound too bad. Until someone wearing a VR helmet is struck by lightning and their consciousness becomes the tyrannical overlord of a new world where the line between reality and simulation is blurred. Then we're screwed.
Luis is wearing a sleeping mask and using his good old-fashioned imagination to have fun so robots don't steal his life force. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and on Facebook.
For more from Luis, check out This Article Will Explode In 5 Points and 4 Spam Emails That Deserve To Be Movies.
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