I remember seeing my first augmented reality (AR) movie years ago. It was a Michael Jackson ride – Captain EO at Disneyland. But somehow, it didn’t have the same effect on me as the one I saw at the Sundance Film Festival years later. The first ever AR documentary produced, Cane Toads: The Conquest, brought to life an invasive amphibian species in Australia. They were swarming the country, killing dogs and cats, and literally covering the ground by the thousands. There seemed no way to stop them. With AR glasses on, we sat in the theater and had frogs pop out at us. We were jumping out of our seats! It was just a little too real for me.
Today, we’ve gotten more use to it. AR is rapidly becoming the choice of escapism. Movies and TV entertainment have matured, and our appetite to immerse our minds in another reality is growing.
We think about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) differently.
It is interesting to note that futurists say that all generations and cultures have widely accepted AR. They think it’s cool and an excellent way for an audience to escape into another place, time, and culture, which is what movies are all about. However, VR is another thing altogether even though audiences have already ingested it through film over the years. The Twilight Zone, 2001 Space Odyssey, Metropolis, Spielberg’s A.I. and Ready Player One, Matrix, Blade Runner, and even Star Wars have brought a layer of fear to VR technology. Audiences are hesitant to embrace VR fully. They think it’s creepy.
Futurists recommend going slower with the introduction of VR since a majority of people are afraid of how it will affect us. This also brings up concerns with the internet and how faces can be transposed on actors to “doctor” videos and communicate false teaching. Discerning truth is something the Church has had to navigate since the beginning of Christianity but never on this level.
The question is, where does the Bible fit into this technology?
How will technology perhaps bend the genuinely miraculous and supernatural acts of God and make them look like VR or AR? How can we use this new technology to our benefit, but also protect those who innocently get manipulated into believing false gods and teachings with doctored images showing the miraculous? The Christian audience is eclectic and composed of diverse cultures and generations with different viewpoints. But no matter what their individual relationship with God and theology looks like, the standard of truth must be maintained, even in a world of immersive VR and AR experiences.
This is an on-going exploration! Come join the rest of the conversation at the upcoming Influence Women Brunch on October 15th with AR and VR Netflix Executive Christina Lee Storm!