Communication shapes society

The more sophisticated our gadgets, the more we are shaped by them.

Communication has become ever faster and ever more intense. Science fiction has always been a few steps ahead, imagining the impacts these changes will have. How does the quickening pace of communication shape us? Will there be a prolongation of videocalls even after the pandemic? Will we communicate in a virtual three-dimensional space? How will this affect our real life?
Communication is one of the key elements of human societies. So it is not surprising that the means of our communication have been ever expanding, from the spoken word to letters to phone calls to e-mails to app messages.

Recently, virtual reality (VR) has been hyped as the next step.Virtual reality is a world where we can be who we want to be and explore places we have never gone to. We can overcome limitations such as distance, time, or language. 

Science fiction does not just foresee new technologies for our communication but also predicts changes in our habits, attitudes and relationships. We will no longer carry portable devices in our pockets but will be wearing them on our bodies, e.g., earpieces as in HER (2013), holographic lenses as in Blade Runner 2049 (2018), or contact lenses as in KI – Die letzte Erfindung (2021). AI characters hard-wired into these devices will act as our personal assistants and facilitate our daily life. In some scenarios, we will use these devices to spend large amounts of time in the VR world and build personal relationships there. 

Value studies support the predictions of science fiction sources with regard to technological improvements. Thanks to the internet of things (IoT), we will be able to communicate with objects and build relationships with them. As a consequence, robots will be employed for various purposes.
Virtual Reality
In science fiction virtual reality gets described as a place where we collaborate with others and express ourselves.
As already briefly mentioned at the beginning:

In science fiction virtual reality gets described as a place where we collaborate with others and express ourselves. It is expected that not just the senses of sight and hearing but also those of smell and taste will facilitate our complete immersion in the VR world.

Not so long ago, Mark Zuckerberg began talking of the “metaverse” as the next big step in communication, being even more immersive. The concept is taken from Neil Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash from 1992 though what Zuckerberg has in mind has little in common with Stephenson’s novel.

Both share the idea of taking communication to an immersive three-dimensional virtual simulation where we can meet “in person” while sharing the common illusion of being in an actual place together. However, when everything is but an illusion, everything can be manipulated, and everything inside is a form of communication , not just a ‘neutral’ part of the environment.
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The online world has subsumed the physical one. We live in the future.


Black Mirror (2013), Episode: "Be Right Back" 
Elysium (2013)
Her (2014) 
Ready Player One (2018)
The Matrix (1999)
The Midnight Sky (2020) 
The Wandering Earth (2019)