Does your child live in the real world? Do you? Advances in technology could soon mean you have a choice not available to previous generations: You can live in the “meatspace” of flesh-and-blood reality, or you can waste your time in a virtual “metaverse” where the environment is malleable and endless adult content is only a few clicks and a subscription away.

In 2009, Technocracy warned you about the increasing prevalence and availability of porn on your kid’s phone. “Every phone’s browser is essentially an unsupervised computer,” that column explains. “While most savvy parents try to monitor their children’s online activity, often placing computers in public areas of the home (rather than in a child’s bedroom), the wireless phone travels with the child during the day and could be used anywhere, without such oversight. … Of greater concern are pay services to which your child might knowingly or unknowingly subscribe. … Now imagine that the messages you’re receiving at a fee aren’t just wallpaper and ring tones, but sexually explicit pictures and video. The monetary cost incurred is compounded, if not eclipsed, by your child’s exposure to adult content.”

These concerns pale when compared to the rise in “sexting” among teens. Sending naked pictures or video to a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t just lead to the posting of this material online (such as to “ex-girlfriend” pornography sites, a trend that has been targeted by legislation to make “revenge porn” illegal). It can also get your kid charged with producing or possessing child pornography if the youths involved are under the age of consent.

As technology advances, however, so does the potential misuse of that technology to facilitate adult content. Just as video games now are much more advanced than the primitive pixels that once kept us busy for hours – compare “Pong” to the cinematic quality of console and computer games now – the experience of online and otherwise virtual pornography is quickly advancing. So sophisticated are these computer-generated environments that users are already tempted to forgo real life for their custom-built virtual dens.

The Daily Dot reports about a new time-wasting app called “Jiggler,” which allows anyone with the app – a data connection is not needed – to “enlarge, shrink, and jiggle your avatar’s bathing suit areas.” The app, though, is just the tip of a “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) iceberg – a coming wave of integrated pornography applications that can turn any smartphone into an adult entertainment portal.

“Jiggler is a new app by way of Utherverse Digital Inc.,” writes EJ Dickson, “which owns the adult virtual reality and role-playing network RedLightCenter. … While the app’s purpose as a mindless time-killer is fairly straightforward, Utherverse CEO Brian Shuster sees Jiggler as just one of a slew of future apps integrating XXX content with technology. … [Utherverse] is also developing a social app that lets you play the role of a porn producer, hiring adult performers and shooting scenes with them. …”

Utherverse’s pornography doesn’t stop with your smartphone. The company is working on material for the Oculus Rift, which could finally make hands-free, virtual-reality pornography a reality. “[The company] is developing a new generation of its software that will not only be Oculus Rift compatible right from the start, but can also replace your current Web browser,” reports Maria Korolov. “The software, currently in Alpha testing, also promises more in-world building tools, better avatar shapes, and other functionality.”

Utherverse’s adults-only virtual world is roughly comparable to another immersive world in which thousands of users operate avatars to interact with others around the world in three-dimensional, free-play environments, namely Second Life (which, technically, is not a “game” at all, but a “grid” to which users can contribute environmental and interactive constructs). Second Life’s players can choose to role-play, script interactive objects in a C-based programming language, buy virtual land and build structures on that land, and even don “hit counters” and shoot it out as anything from Star Wars characters to Old West gunslingers. Until its creators cracked down on public expressions of lewdness, Second Life was also known, in certain sectors of its grid, for wild sexual playgrounds and virtual sex clubs.

Like Second Life, Utherverse has roughly 1 million active users per month. “However, while Second Life’s primary focus is creative building, with a marketplace of millions of user-created items, Utherverse is more focused on adult social activities, including an official virtual escort directory,” writes Korolov. She adds that the company is working on making its virtual-world software available as a stand-alone package, which would allow customers to create a virtual environment that runs almost totally independently of an adult-content grid. She rightly asks: “[Does this] mean that we will soon see a metaverse where people can choose between proprietary and open source virtual world server software?”

The television series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” introduced viewers to the concept of the “holodeck,” an interactive virtual environment that was physically real to the user and in which they could have sex with entirely simulated characters. Realistically, were such holodecks available today, society would practically shut down because no one would want to leave them. The allure of creating a fantasy world in which virtual reality conforms to our whims is simply too great. Our desire to escape into that fantasy need not even be prurient. Who among us would not change reality if we could? A metaverse allows anyone to sculpt their immersive, synthesized world to their individual preferences and to avoid any and all real-world interactions with people and conditions they do not wish to experience.

It’s sounds fun, because it would be. It would also be incredibly harmful. There are many things about the real world that we don’t enjoy, but we must contend with them because the alternative is failure in life. Losing yourself in video games is already possible. Escaping into an electronically served metaverse allows us to avoid life, to avoid responsibility and to avoid consequences. Enticing as that sounds, it is a formula for failure … and we are just now seeing the bow wave of the generation of wasted lives that are to come.

Media wishing to interview Phil Elmore, please contact [email protected].

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