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Oculus Rift turned out to be an unintentionally ideal name for a gadget dedicated to carving ruptures between people. They also could have called it the “Digital Chasm” or the “Interaction Canyon.”
The virtual-reality headsets, available at 48 Best Buy stores beginning May 7, promise to widen further what is already an alarming, tech-induced gap among couples, friends and families. Smartphones have already whipped up a wasteland of blankness — the real-life equivalent of dead air on the radio.
We’re living in “Um, honey?” time. As in, “Um, honey, how was your day at school?” (No answer. Lots of tapping.)
“Um, honey, have you seen my glasses?” (No answer. “Memes” are being considered.)
“Um, honey? I need your attention, please. Please? We have an infestation of gila monsters. The house is burning down. I’m leaving you for another family.” (No answer. Snapchat being checked.)
The Oculus Rift? It’s basically a smartphone you wrap around your face. Put it on; reality can’t get in. This is the appeal of drugs, too.
As with drugs, easily bored young people are particularly susceptible. Think your kids are hard to connect with now? Wait till they get themselves an Oculus Rift and begin to expend all their attention, instead of just most of it, on the Great Elsewhere. They’ll be off in a world of their own imagining: hiking up Everest. Having a light-saber duel with Kylo Ren. Joining the Kardashian family.