Financial Slacker
Jan 25, 2017 · 4 min read

My son got a new phone a few weeks ago after his old one found its way into the washing machine. This time around, he decided to try a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge after using an iPhone 5 for the past four years. Included with the phone was the Samsung Gear VR Oculus headset.

You may have seen the commercials that ran over the holidays advertising the Gear VR. For those not familiar (which was me up until we bought the phone right before Christmas), the Gear VR is a virtual reality headset that works with your Samsung phone. I am not all that sure what you can do with the device yet but I started playing around with it the other day.

As a side note, from a personal finance perspective, I feel like I deserve a pass on this one as we didn’t pay for the device. It was included in the cell phone package as an incentive to upgrade your phone. And as much as I hate spending money, in that my son was using a four year-old iPhone before it was destroyed, I was as comfortable as I can be buying a new one.

Will This Change How We Watch Television?

After using the device for a few hours, I have to say, it’s actually pretty cool and better than I expected.

I will preface this by saying that the Gear VR is not a device you need. Clearly, it’s a luxury expense item. There is nothing that it does that you cannot do with your phone. And while I wouldn’t recommend running out and spending money to buy the device, if it happens to be included as an add-on, it does have entertainment value.

I used the device to watch Netflix. When you insert your phone and open the app, you are immediately transported into someone else’s house. You’re sitting on a couch watching a giant-screen television playing Netflix. You can look around the room, outside, upstairs, all around you. And it really does feel like you’re somewhere else. By the way, I wouldn’t recommend walking around while wearing the headset as it completely blocks out all ambient light and you’re likely to trip and fall over something.

For something so simple (a cellphone slipped into a viewing device), the technology is pretty amazing and it’s just the tip of what’s to come.

Is Technology Advancement Always Good?

Why I bring this up is not to convince you to go spend more money on a gadget that you don’t really need. Instead, I bring this up because this is where the world is headed and it brings up certain philosophical questions.

While experiencing the world through a device isn’t the same thing as experiencing the world in real life, it doesn’t need to be the same. It’s a different experience. A device such as this allows you to experience something completely different than sitting in your own house.

It is truly amazing to see how much technology has advanced over the past fifty years and to think about what is to come over the next fifty years. But this advancement in technology also creates new problems for society.

I remember listening to the head of my children’s school discussing the impact that technology is having on the students. The advancements in technology coupled with better and better content is making it more and more difficult for students (and adults) to pull themselves away. If you have children, you know exactly what I’m talking about as all of us deal with how to limit screen time.

Technology Is Changing Everything

The idea of binge-watching an entire season wasn’t even on people’s radar ten or twenty years ago. And now it’s completely normal and mostly preferred by many viewers.

And one of the most troubling technology trends is how it has a tendency to separate and isolate people from each other.

People now spend more time interacting online than they do in real life. Phones, email, messaging, and video are all great forms of communication but they cannot completely replace face-to-face interaction. But that seems to be where we’re headed.

Readers, how much real-life, face-to-face interaction do you still have? Are you worried that technology is pushing these interactions out and replacing them with virtual interaction?

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