My new article on Linkedin “Home Sweet (Virtual) Home”
“A new form of digital currency is apparently moving into the world of real estate,” reported Fox Business on March 21. “The result,” continued the story, “is that a homebuyer just bought a piece of property that they can never actually live in.” The virtual house, created with a new form of block-chain technology called Non-Fungible Token (NFT), cost more than 500,000 very real US dollars.
Even more uncanny is the Reuters story that “A digital artwork by humanoid robot Sophia was sold at auction … for $688,888 in … the latest sign of a frenzy in the NFT art world.” Indeed, virtual reality is taking over.
But if you think about it, everything is virtual. When you look at how people lived fifty or sixty years ago, was their entertainment not largely virtual? They would come home from work and relax on the couch with a book or watch TV. The world they drifted to was virtual, invented by the author or the scriptwriter.
If they went to the theater, the movie presented a virtual world that existed only as long as the movie played on, and even then it was real only to the extent that the people in the theater “bought” the story. Yet, the money people paid to go to the movies or buy a book was real money. So in fact, nothing has changed but the means; the illusion is the same.
While our pastime has always relied on illusion, it yielded something very real: feelings. We may never know whether what we perceive is truly as we perceive it or perhaps it is some sort of an illusion, but we can always tell what we feel, and this is really all we care about (even if we don’t admit it). Feelings govern us; they decide what we do, and we spend our lives looking for ways to feel good. If we feel good, life is good; if we feel bad, so is life.
When something makes us feel good, we don’t care if it is physical or virtual; as long as we enjoy it, we want it. If I have half a million dollars to spend on feeling good, and a virtual home will give me that good feeling, there is no reason whatsoever not to spend it.
Therefore, we shouldn’t patronize people who spend a fortune on virtual art, or spend hours in virtual games. After all, we, too, are governed by our feelings. This is the real lesson we should learn from people’s willingness to purchase a house where they will never set foot.