“Consider what it would take to actually have free will.” Sam Harris
It seems quite evident that virtual environments can be favorable terrains for many people. And in so many ways. Particularly now as though “we can’t change the fact of COVID-19,” something we can change is “how we adapt and move forward into the next phases of our lives.” news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/08
For instance, many educators are working to create virtual spaces for their students to have a “kind of organic interaction.” news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/08
Others enable virtual communities where a person’s presence gives him/her an illusion of nonmediation:
“An “illusion of nonmediation” occurs when a person fails to perceive or acknowledge the existence of a medium in his/her communication environment and responds as he/she would if the medium were not there.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 10(1):45-56
That is, “a level of experience where the technology and the external physical environment disappear from the user’s phenomenal awareness.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 10(1):45-56
This happens especially since virtual spaces allow the creation of new socializing possibilities, highlighting “the importance of the sense of presence as mediating variable between the media experience and the emotions induced by it.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 10(1):45-56
For example, the emotions triggered by the act of being “in control” of not allowing in a virtual community, environment, space… a negative perception that could have practical consequences in a person’s “real life”. Where that person’s situation may be defined by others. Where they may feel no more than passive and powerless actors in the narrative configuration of what happens to them.
But in a virtual space “the virtualists” – as they could choose to name themselves – can dominate their identity.
Free will enabled.
Even someone’s presence in a virtual environment as a passive and invisible agent at the beginning could give way to a progressive incorporation adapted to the needs (and wants) of said someone. In that way, such virtual reality is “not influenced only by the environment’s graphic realism, display dimension, and other technological features, but to a great degree by the characteristics of the experience, including the emotional ones, provided by the technology.” CyberPsychology & Behavior 10(1):45-56
Moreover, in the case that a person does not want to participate in the communicative dynamics of a virtual space, they can feed on a very significant amount of information, which in the “real world” may not necessarily do.
In a virtual environment, the person acknowledges herself/himself/themselves as key figure in their situation.
“You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm.” Sam Harris