Do we really need fashion for our avatars? – The Oxford Eagle

Virtual Reality or VR as it is called is the latest technology on the scene to mystify me. I thought I really got into high tech when I started typing on an electric typewriter back then. My typing class in high school used manual typewriters. You know the keys really needed a good nudge to get the letters to print on the paper. Then came IBM’s “Correcting Selectric”. A typewriter that could correct errors simply by stepping back. Wow! Around the same time, there was the emergence of computers used in banking for complex calculations, and yes, word processing. The world was on fire with new technologies that started to change the everyday business world.

The next technological breakthrough was the telephone that no longer required you to be attached to a cord. You can pick up the phone and walk around while talking. Clever! Then before I knew it, there was the car phone for regular people. Remember there were people who bought fake phones just to look cool? And then, in the early 1970s, Motorola was the first company to mass-produce the first portable cell phone. If I remember correctly, they had a small antenna and you couldn’t get a lot of service, but you kept up to date with the latest technology.

I finally got used to my smartphone which is not tethered by a lanyard and can also take pictures, give me directions, track my steps, connect to the internet and has “apps” galore to do any function I could possibly want or need. Want some music? What about games? You can watch, stream or listen. What’s not to like? Well, there is that. My phone is so much smarter than me. Almost every day I discover something on my phone that I didn’t know before. All these settings! All those buttons! It’s a bit intimidating.

Enter VR! Virtual reality is a simulated experience which may be similar or completely different from the real world. Some days it might sound like something we could all use as an escape mechanism. Virtual reality requires a headset, which is expensive by the way, and works by immersing you in a “virtual” environment. Virtual reality applications include entertainment with games galore, education (such as medical or military training), and business, such as virtual meetings.

Virtual reality is big business with games of all kinds that take you into a setting where you can manipulate the avatar, the electronic image. Well, here comes the latest in this world of VR commerce. Meta (formerly known as Facebook) will launch an avatar fashion store to sell virtual clothing for real money. Yes, that’s what I said: virtual “clothes” for real money! So will your avatar be decked out in a fashionable ensemble or just something casual, you know, for your online VR game that you can’t touch or wear.

If you decide to buy clothes for your avatar in this way, may I suggest that you also consider a purse for our little dog, Carly too? I really think she would like to go to university to continue her studies. She’s very smart and has learned a lot so I’m sure she could benefit from your generosity. I will ask him what his study program will be and let you know. She is an excellent communicator. She relays information via wagging, her big brown eyes, and sometimes bouncing or enthusiastic barking.

Or if you’d rather do something more meaningful, you can donate to our local United Way, one of the local school systems, Interfaith Compassionate Ministry, or any other organization that matters to you. Sure, that could mean your avatar might not be scalloped in the latest style, but who would know? Apologies to those who better appreciate this new technology and well-dressed avatars.

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.

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