July 31, 2022
A chance to discuss virtual reality, acceptance and mental health with our teens
This is an off-beat, big hearted documentary which was created inside virtual reality and was featured at Sundance. It touches on acceptance, mental health and the potential to evolve complex relationships and to learn new things in VR. Be advised that some of the avatars wear costumes which could be considered risqué. Some participants have developed romantic relationships. There is no sex, but maybe some implied drinking. I feel like Virtual Reality is something most of us are not fully aware of or comfortable with yet, but it is coming- think cell phones. (VR is that thing where you put on those goggles and see all around you in 3D and you can be transported to… like anywhere! There are even accessories like gloves and footwear that allow your body to be sensed and then viewed within VR as you “walk” along and “pick things up” etc) Virtual reality is like, well, real life, in that each of us will attract and discover that which we seek. There are many people who are suspicious of the content, similar to some sketchiness on the Internet which has worried parents for years. I believe it’s true that some current users of VR are there because it gives them the opportunity to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable. However, many others are just curious, forward thinkers using this platform for, well, your imagination is the only limit to what can happen in VR. One of the main characters of this film found her niche in VR as a sign language instructor. She is lovely. She made a friend in VR who is deaf and who lost his brother during COVID- to suicide. She would never have met this friend if not for VR (think the title of the movie). The scene where together they grieve using ASL (American Sign Language) is one of the most beautiful, authentic and moving pieces of film that I have ever seen. There was not a single dry eye in the group of parents who watched with me. As parents, I think it’s worthwhile to become familiar with VR so that we are aware of this world which our children will eventually visit one way or another. There are so many VR formats. I just saw an ad for a platform to enable dynamic work presentations in VR. I noticed kids can play Roblox in VR now. I feel certain that schools will utilize VR for more engaging educational experiences in the near future. This film is an opportunity for parents to pop out of our comfort zone and get a small exposure to a whole new universe which will surround our kids (and us! Can you imagine the opportunities for senior citizens?) in the coming decades. HBO follows trends and they snapped this movie up. VR is coming and it may be epic… Here is an opportunity to explore VR together with our teens and open all sorts of new, innovative discussions about what may become possible.