The future of virtual reality is relatively unknown. While gaming is leading the pack, there are dozens of potential applications in the development stages that will revolutionize tech as we know it. From immersive social media experiences to a grocery store you can peruse at home, virtual reality could completely transform the way you live your life. Unfortunately, one aspect of the online world will get even worse with the advent of this new technology: trolls.
As the bane of everyone’s newsfeed, trolls remain a problem that needs to be solved. And while they’re currently limited to your computer or smartphone, the immersive nature of virtual reality could make trolls significantly more annoying. Particularly because there will be so many more ways to interact with users.
“Like with real-world interaction, users in VR can feel social discomfort if those that they are interacting with are violating normal real-world personal space,” said a rep from Altspace VR. “This may include the proximity of one avatar to another, the placement of motion-captured hands, arms or legs close to the avatar’s face, or even a high speed approach and passing of one avatar through another.”
If the social media craze moves to virtual reality, these kinds of people will have relatively free reign on a new kind of trolling. If you thought ad hominem attacks and racial slurs were bad, wait until a troll can play the “I’m not touching you” game until you sign off. Rather than simply posting multiple paragraphs filled with complicated jargon and personal insults, political arguments will be punctuated with wild gesticulations and virtual shoves. It will be like the wild west of online interaction.
However, many believe that the problem with social media is that people aren’t forced to look someone in the eye when they’re insulting them. On the other hand, virtual reality will make trolls face their victims, potentially creating an empathetic barrier to their abusive ways. And while virtual reality avatars can hardly replicate the the emotional devastation that comes from being trolled, the sheer fact that a human is attached to the account in question has been proven to deter trolls from attacking at will.
While virtual reality is still far from global integration, trolls cannot be allowed to dictate the rules of this burgeoning technology. Whether it’s on social media or online gaming platforms, harassment has taken an ugly turn for the worse in recent years. And if the technology world hopes to expand with the enthusiasm it’s shown, they need to find a way to silence these digital bullies.