The so-called enormous change (the new forms
of experience and communication) is only appearance
or glimmer. There is no new or emerging paradigm.
The driving force is exactly the same as with the
former forms of communication: the experience of
First of all, one mustn't be a prophet to predict
that this "dream-network" will mainly be
taken by entertainment and not by information.
And certainly not by ideas. The predominant
commercial strategy aims at the development of a
gigantic entertainment network.
In Japan, a recent national market survey on the
distribution of multimedia software by product category
found that entertainment accounted for 85.7 % of
the value, while education represented only 0.8 %.
Entertainment sustains the will to develop VRs. The
whole world becomes a Disneyland. Witness the existential
philosophy actually propagated by Nintendo: "Life’s
It is time to reply to all these blind promises.
This blind date with happiness. If all human dreams
are fulfilled, do we stand then before the gate of
the paradise? Is the experience of happiness in our
reach? Will this artificial happiness then
be the long hoped happiness? My answer to Nintendo
is: "Life is not a game".
We do live in a real world. There is not some
perfect world or cyberspace, some dream world we
will be able to migrate to. Indeed, a real world
will always continue to exist. We will remain subjected
to it. In this real world pain, suffering, disease,
hunger, violence, death, mourning, worries, sorrow,
grief, injury, affliction, vulnerability will always
exist (as Freud remarked: there are much more possibilities
to be unhappy than to be happy).
How shall we respond to all small and big, but real
existential dramas? Are we still matched for them?
Against the bright, rosy, paradisiacal (designed)
world, real existence might contrast particularly
grey and drab. Depressing indeed. The World Health
Organization predicts that within twenty years depression
will be worldwide the second important affliction
(number one remaining the cardiac affections). And
that is remarkable. Materially and practically it
has never gone so well as now. Everything is in our
reach, we live in paradise – and in spite of all
this, or rather because of all this, all of
us are threatened by depression. Forty years ago,
Bertrand Russell in "The Conquest of Happiness" asked
this question: "What use has it to make everyone
rich, if the rich themselves are unhappy?"
VR sells the limitless freedom as a consumer good.
I can be everything in VR. I can during a few hours
be the president of the United States, I can be the
first astronaut to travel to Andromeda, I can win
the Tour de France, I can score three goals in the
final of the Champions League, I can climb the Mount
Everest, I can do as much cruises as I wish on the
Lüneburger Heide, I can live on a desert island...
In the real world exists something like "once
and for all". Each choice of our freedom reduces
our further possibilities to choose. Freedom is really
tragic, painful. Everytime I make a choice in my
life, about my life, I give up other possibilities.
I cannot undo choices. I cannot be everything. In
the virtual world this commitment to time does not
exist. The more the Network persuades us for its
artificial freedom, the more we drift apart from
freedom and get estranged from it. Life has substantial,
Life is not a game.