In the digital age, the influence of virtual reality and artificial intelligence continues to permeate various aspects of daily life. Two phenomena that have emerged as subjects of concern are virtual influencers and violent video games. While they differ in their nature and intended audience, they share a common thread in their potential negative impacts on society. This essay compares the effects of these two technological advancements, focusing on their impact on perception and reality distortion, mental health, commercial and ethical concerns, and broader societal implications.
PERCEPTION AND REALITY DISTORTION
Virtual influencers, entirely computer-generated characters who endorse brands and sell products, present an idealized version of human appearance and lifestyle. These representations can lead to unrealistic expectations and standards of beauty, especially among younger audiences. The distortion between the virtual world and reality can create dissatisfaction, confusion, and a skewed sense of normality.
In contrast, violent video games, known for their graphic content and aggressive themes, can cause distorted perceptions of violence and reality. Prolonged exposure may lead to desensitization towards violence and a lack of empathy towards real-world suffering. The blurred line between virtual violence and real-world consequences can have profound effects on the way individuals perceive and interact with their surroundings.
MENTAL HEALTH EFFECTS
The fabricated perfection portrayed by virtual influencers can lead to mental health issues like body dissatisfaction, anxiety, and depression. The constant comparison to an unattainable ideal can erode self-esteem and create a sense of inadequacy.
Violent video games, on the other hand, have been linked to increased aggression, anxiety, and even addiction in some studies. The debate about these effects is ongoing, but there is concern that these games can foster hostile behavior and attitudes.
COMMERCIAL AND ETHICAL CONCERNS
Virtual influencers raise critical questions about authenticity and transparency. The calculated use of AI to create appealing and persuasive personalities can lead to manipulative advertising practices. This raises ethical dilemmas about consent, awareness, and the potential exploitation of vulnerable individuals.
The commercial aspect of violent video games involves questions about responsibility in marketing and distribution. There are concerns about ensuring age-appropriate access and the ethical implications of profiting from content that might negatively affect behavior and attitudes.
The broader societal impact of virtual influencers might lead to a reshaping of social norms regarding beauty and human interaction. This could foster a culture where artificiality is preferred over authenticity, affecting how people perceive and engage with each other.
Concerning violent video games, there are fears about the general coarsening of societal attitudes towards violence. The normalization of virtual violence might contribute to a desensitized culture where aggression becomes more acceptable.
Virtual influencers and violent video games, though distinct in their content and purpose, both present significant challenges to society. They influence perceptions of reality, mental well-being, commercial ethics, and societal values. While virtual influencers primarily affect personal self-image and societal norms, violent video games impact attitudes toward violence and empathy. Both phenomena necessitate careful consideration, responsible regulation, and ongoing research to mitigate their potential negative impacts. The digital age continues to present complex challenges that require multifaceted solutions, and understanding the implications of virtual influencers and violent video games is essential in navigating this evolving landscape.