Augmented Reality and Self-Worth

As I continue to think about the psychological ramifications of Augmented and Mixed reality, I keep looping back to the concept of self-worth.

Before digging in, let’s think about the current state of affairs. Most of us are bordering on ceaseless connectivity. We have the ability to reference any fathomable piece of information through devices that we carry in our pockets. This level of connectivity gives us near-immediate access to the knowledge of the world. If we want to learn about a specific brew of craft beer, directions through an unfamiliar city, recent findings in astrophysics, the recipe for tonight’s dinner or the latest with any of our friends — we can do it all by referencing a small rectangle that is for all intents and purposes, attached to us.

So how does one feel when that connectivity vanishes? Whether we forget the device at home, accidentally break it, or the battery dies, the sensation of being “disconnected” may lead to a variety of feelings. Perhaps a person is somewhat relieved and decides to continue throughout the day while “taking a break” from the connectivity. Perhaps a person feels like they can not function properly without the internet at an arm’s reach. These feelings are obviously contingent on how dependent the individual is on the connectivity that these devices provide.

But here is where it gets weird — our mobile devices today have definitely given us capabilities and access to information at our fingertips, but so far they haven’t reallyphysically altered our perception of the world around us. We choose to interact with the content on the screen, it isn’t actively modifying our physical perception of reality.

As I think about this future wherein AR/MR HMDs are ubiquitous, I start contemplating the psychological dependencies that could manifest. What will happen when your HMD battery dies, and with it your augmented perception of the world around you? Once the HMD has become normal for you and everyone you know, what type of psychological impact occurs when you are suddenly without your augmented capabilities? Will the natural world still be “good enough”? Will it be refreshing to “take a break”? Or will you feel like you are missing a part of you? Will you feel like your natural abilities are inadequate compared to your reality-augmented peers? Will you still be “good enough”?

The reason for this post is to shed some light on the potential issues that might arise within AR. As the AR hype continues to build, it is important for designers, developers, and thinkers to keep meaningful conversation alive. LinkedIn has proved to be an amazing platform for people to connect and create wonderful things.

It is my hope that this post accomplishes one of two things:

  1. Validates that other people are thinking of similar questions that you may have been pondering
  2. Sparks new questions surrounding the potential psychological ramifications of AR

Please feel free to comment or message me with ideas/thoughts surrounding this subject. I am always looking forward to meeting and conversing with likeminded individuals!