David Foster Wallace was right to be concerned: immersive VR headsets could be the ruin of us

There’s a moment in The End of the Tour, a recent film based on the transcripts of a meeting between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and the late American novelist David Foster Wallace, in which the writer likens the act of watching television to masturbation. Both activities, he argues, offer a pleasurable way to spend a few minutes. Both activities may also highlight deeper issues if allowed to become a person’s primary habit. “At least with masturbation some action is being performed,” says Lipsky. “Isn’t that better?”

Wallace is unmoved. “Yes, you’re performing muscular movements,” he says. “But what you’re really doing is running a movie, having a fantasy relationship with somebody who is not real, strictly to stimulate a neurological response.”

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