M.Sc. et B. Radek German

"Winter is coming" or How virtual reality will change our lives.

"Winter is coming" cult message from the even more cult series Game of Thrones, i.e. Game of Thrones in the Czech version. A sentence that foretells an approaching winter that is life-threatening to the local world, where people are fighting for their lives to survive a winter that is indefinitely long. It creates tension, fear, anxiety, attracts attention.

To this analogy, we could compare the event from February this year, when Apple presented its new product - Vision Pro glasses. These glasses have an integrated display and artificial intelligence that analyzes the surrounding environment and provides users with information directly in their field of vision. Thanks to specific sensors, the glasses can be controlled by hand gestures, voice or gaze. Apple has integrated these glasses into its ecosystem, making them a very dynamic tool for connecting with other products. They make it possible to create a virtual office, interact with people around the world and preserve memories in 3D form. This step forward in interacting with the digital world offers new opportunities to use technology in all areas of our lives. However, it is important to keep in mind the possible negative effects, such as losing touch with the present and reality.

In today's digitally connected, technologically connected world, addictions are not just about substances. We try to mention it all the time, but it is still important to repeat it, because as we know from the Bible, there is nothing new under the sun, but it is necessary to repeat it over and over again, because someone who was not paying attention before will be listening. In our industry, more and more people struggle with non-substance addictions, such as addictions to technology, social media or even workload. These addictions can have serious consequences on our health and quality of life. We perceive a hugely increasing tendency of the emergence of anxiety, depressive states, burnout, loss of meaning in life, general discomfort in life, which results from the use of social networks, digital games, and the virtual world. This excessive use of social media and the digital world in general leads to a dependence on self-validation from others or a constant comparison of oneself to others, which can have a huge negative impact on self-esteem, self-worth and overall mental health.

With this new technology comes one of the huge risks of overuse and addiction. The risk of disconnection from the world, from the real world we live in, so that virtual reality becomes a new world, a new life for an individual. The tempting prospect of spending more time and connecting to the digital world would mean losing touch with the real world around you. Even now, when we open our mobile phone, we consciously or unconsciously receive a dose of dopamine. We are already observing an increase of over 50% in depression and anxiety among young people aged 13 to 21, and the associated increase in suicide attempts or completed suicides, both in our country and in the world.

We deal with clients who do not know how to live here and now, who do not know how to live their own lives, who lose and lack responsibility for their own lives. This leads to great anxiety and depression. And now we are still only talking about mobile phones or game consoles or computers. With the advent of virtual reality connected to glasses, this issue would be even more threatened and could mean a crushing impact on human mental development. As humans, we are not able to cope with these momentary pitfalls, when life and digitalization take place at a speed that is difficult to handle with the classic defense mechanisms that a normal person is equipped with. All of this connected with the advent of artificial intelligence, which many are trying to grasp, but which is also causing scary expressions on the faces of many people who may lose their jobs because of it. We thus see an unnatural development around us. We can say with great certainty that we see in our therapy rooms or surgeries that digitization often destroys human lives, now the very fragile lives of the teenage generation, which in the current situation has one of the worst prognoses for its mental health in the years to come. The large supply of dopamine to the brain, which is already ensured by social networks, applications such as TikTok, Instagram, computer games, pornography and others, will be deepened to even greater dimensions, and ordinary life will logically not be enough for the individual.

It is important to ask whether we as humanity are really ready for such a technological innovation and what the consequences will be for our society. Will Vision Pro glasses support our productivity and communication, or will they serve us destructively, take time, capture our attention and dose dopamine? Do we have enough experience and knowledge to properly manage our use of these technologies and minimize the negative impacts on our lives? It is crucial that we are aware of the potential risks of non-substance addictions associated with new technologies such as Vision Pro glasses. We can think about whether this is similar to injecting heroin - it gives short-term satisfaction, but can lead to serious health and social problems.

Nevertheless, we are talking here about the first version of this technology from Apple, although there are some similar products in the world, it is still expected that Apple will succeed, as always, to bring it to the lives of classic users. Now the version is more for enthusiasts, professional public. It will take a few months, maybe years, before it's available for regular users. Of course, we also remember the possible use in a therapeutic environment, the necessity of online therapies could therefore be more constructive, or also in the case of relaxation techniques for individuals.

But what if it's too late?

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