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TIME’s Favorite Virtual Reality Memes Spark Debate

On Thursday, Olivia B. Waxman of TIME Magazine posted 37 memes depicting a Palmer Luckey, a virtual reality guru, wearing VR goggles. He is superimposed into various hypothetical scenarios, such as flying through space with intergalactic pizzas and being caressed by a young Leonardo DiCaprio at the edge of The Titanic.

Virtual reality had demonstrated some measure of success in helping recovering alcoholics in preliminary studies. Surely, it must not be inherently wrong to willingly transport one’s self to a manufactured world, especially if it can have positive effects upon one’s “normal” reality. After all, swimming away from sharks and riding on the back of Ecco The Dolphin as depicted in TIME‘s meme renderings may be exhilarating experiences, and the sheer entertainment value is worth something to users.

However, Hayley Tsukayama of The Washington Post had a few criticisms to make of the problems that the virtual reality industry has failed to address, among them the fact that it simply looks silly. Says Tsukayama, “To ‘get’ it, you have to try it. To try it you have to be convinced to do so. And when all you see is someone with a big set of goggles on their face, it’s difficult to see the technology as anything but isolating….In all likelihood, you won’t see people with virtual reality headsets walking down the street.” She also noted that many people find it challenging to believe that virtual reality could connect people instead of isolating them from others.

To try it you have to be convinced to do so. And when all you see is someone with a big set of goggles on their face, it’s difficult to see the technology as anything but isolating.

The time photos feature Oculus VR founder Luckey wearing virtual reality goggles and performing an awkward half-squat gesture, his hands perched outwardly like a stork who fears flying. This image of Luckey has been cut and superimposed into a number of hilarious settings, making for some good laughs as memes often do. Despite a few criticisms that Tsukayama made of the virtual reality industry, she remains convinced that if VR could be less socially alienating, many more consumers would use it for various functions, including education and entertainment.

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