Facebook's purchase of Oculus Rift brings us one step closer to the social media apocalypse

Facebook is not a gaming company. It sells adverts on the back of our data

Share

Social media has always struck me as being a little odd, not entirely in concept but certainly in description. Although it is great for getting ideas out there and touching base with people who are just so hard to reach in the real world, there is nothing social in whipping out a phone to interact with friends and random strangers while out and about with real life friends and family.

But if you think that is bad, just fast forward a few years when Facebook isn't just on phones and tablets but right into front of people's eyes, so dominant that even if you shook your head furiously, status updates and online chats – in whatever form they will take a few years from now – will remain in full view of your peepers.

For this, we will thank Facebook's purchase of Oculus Rift, a technology that has been impressing gamers and earning itself front covers of leading videogame magazines across the world. The device was being heralded as the comeback for virtual reality mainly because it has actually cracked the technology - it certainly betters the monochrome graphics of Nintendo's ill-fated Virtual Boy of the mid-1990s.

Yet when Oculus Rift emerged in 2012 and succeeded in securing $2,437,429 for development via Kickstarter, the makers never believed it would come to this. The technology has proved its credentials with cutting-edge visuals and sound accompanying virtual worlds that can be explored with a helmet over the player's head and mere turns of the neck. Now it's the plaything of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who talks of making it a “platform for many other experiences”. Like, we would assume, social networking and being bombarded with adverts based on what data it has gleaned from us.

Facebook says its purchase will, for the moment at least, be able to continue doing what it had set out to achieve: creating an incredible gaming experience. With Doom 4, Team Fortress and Miner Wars 2081 earmarked for it, it is certainly well supported. Last year, legendary game programmer John Carmack – the man behind titles such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D - joined the Oculus team as its new Chief Technology Officer. Everything, it seems, is set for players' eyes to see gaming in a whole new way, lapping up a 7-inch screen with stereoscopic 3D that immerses them into playing scenarios like never before.

But even though Facebook has tried to soothe the pain of those who believe the purchase to be bad news – there is no doubt it has caused a rift among the Oculus crowd – the device is not only about games any more. That scares some people, such as Minecraft creator Markus Persson who has decided to cancel the porting of his game to the new platform. “Facebook creeps me out,” says Persson. And to that you can only say, “Fair enough”.

 

Why? Because Facebook is not a gaming company. It encourages people to get together in groups online and share data about themselves. It sells adverts on the back of the information it amasses and it becomes very rich in the process. If Facebook is going to harness Oculus Rift for social networking, as we envisage it will do, then what a creepy world that is going be.

People will be immersed in the social network like never before: users will have masks containing screens over their eyes for a start. But not only will this worrying sight mean social networkers will be truly cut off from the real world, we – and let's not kid ourselves because so many of us are Facebookers today - would be absorbing all manner of adverts, cat videos and VR selfies in some kind of Clockwork Orange-esque nightmare.

Of course, all of this is still a few years away but it's still troublesome to picture Facebook users in helmets; you seeing them but them not seeing you. It potentially takes online social networking to another, perhaps darker level. Worse of all, if so many people end up in Facebook's make-believe land, who would you go to the pub with to debate the fall of mankind – and then ignore if they get too dull? It's enough to drive you virtually insane.

To read an opposing view, from Oculus Rift game developer E McNeill, click here

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Representative

£15500 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This international company deve...

Recruitment Genius: Field Service Engineer - Basingstoke / Reading Area

£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...

Day In a Page

Read Next
People relax near Regent's Canal in King's Cross, London  

Nature Studies: Global warming – both the phenomenon and the phrase – is back

Michael McCarthy
 

Daily catch-up: the Greeks can stay in the euro or end ‘austerity’, but not both

John Rentoul
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue