I love VR, but no matter how impressive the latest Oculus Rift demo is, I have yet to shake the feeling the headset makes me look like a total goofball.
Time Magazine's recent cover didn't help. If you haven't seen the image, Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey sports his silly headgear as he floats above a photoshopped beach. The image makes no sense outside its intended meme-iness. The editors at Time are partly responsible for the humiliating depiction of the promising technology. But the Oculus — and VR — also brought some of the backlash upon themselves.
VR is a little ostracizing. When you put on a headset, which covers your eyes and ears, you are letting those around you know, "I am disconnecting from the outside world." That can be off-putting. I think that's why, in some part, VR has been the butt of jokes for decades.
What's surprising is how this specific mental image of VR, the 20-something man in a headset, floating in mid-air, connected the world through a dangling cord, is so iconic. Almost two decades before Time Magazine "insulted virtual reality," The Offspring's music video for "The Kids Aren't All Right" depicted the same floating dude.
In the battle for virtual reality acceptance, Oculus and its rivals have a lot of catching up to do.