Virtual reality is not the one from movies or science fiction books. You don’t reach it through implanted chips or recording someone else’s experiences. It’s not about invented worlds, new ones, only for the subject of the experiment, where different laws can be applied without the subject noticing the anomaly.
Virtual reality is (a part of) everyone’s reality, but it truly deserves its name only when this reality is shared by many, real people, not computer-programmed characters or hallucinations, people who, like the subject, believe that that is reality
The premise of the Matrix doesn’t hold up as virtual reality because the subject, once removed from the matrix, immediately recognizes a common reality, as well as the absurdity of the previous state. The Matrix can be considered as a drug that induces a state where you do not have consciousness of another past than the one generated by the system/matrix, but, once the subject is removed from the network, the contradiction is noticed: from virtual reality you cannot exit, for you is not virtual/separated neither when you are experiencing it or after you have lived it, it is not separable from the rest of the fragments of reality. From a nightmare you wake up, from addiction you can exit, and both can be identified as such, immediately, at least post factum. From virtual reality you don’t know you have exited until you change your representation of the real world so that you identify a fragment of your reality as a lie that you have managed to uncover.
Virtual reality is a public good, belongs to a community, you don’t exist in a strictly individual virtual reality – because reality involves interaction – and therefore, you can’t talk about virtual reality without communication.
Virtual reality is sometimes induced benignly, through simple error, through prejudices seriously deviating from the collective wisdom-distilled-in-a-pill shortcut approximations they usually are, or it is induced intentionally. When certain constructions are perceived as reality by everyone, virtual reality confounds with reality. A rare or impossible case, I believe.
How can I explain to someone who believes in a certain reality that this is not the true reality? I can’t. I can try, indirectly, to present that person with situations that make them feel like something is not connecting, like something is not right, so that they question their adequacy of their own representation of reality. How do I know that my reality is not virtual? From the smaller number of internal contradictions. But is my representation the most correct one? It’s not. Can there be a more real representation than mine or the other person’s? It’s possible. But I believe that as you get closer to the truth, you can’t return to the state of self-deception. You can be cynical and pig-headed and lie to others, but you can no longer deceive yourself with the same lies.
In a world where lying is only an individual option, we would live better. In other words, if we wouldn’t build and spread, methodically, false concepts for common use, layers of deceptive representations that hide or delay the reception of reality in the light of truth, imagination could soar free trusting, ultimately, that reality has its own dynamics that virtual reality can’t keep up with.