Pioneers of virtual reality are enabling us to experience everything from childbirth to sexism. But for the ‘hyperempathetic’ there’s nothing you can teach us about each other’s feelings
This weekend an art show in support of End Violence Against Women (EVAW), a charity dedicated to doing what it says on the tin, is providing a virtual reality (VR) experience: stepping into the shoes of women experiencing sexism and street harassment. The idea is to “give men and women a visceral understanding of what it is really like to be attacked in the street or on public transport just because you are a woman”. Having only used VR once, but being suitably psyched by the intensity that I was left squealing like a child, I’m imagining it’s going to be pretty powerful. But the really interesting thing about EVAW’s VR, in my opinion, is that it feels emblematic of the millennial generation.
I wholeheartedly refute the “special snowflake” label – daubed on us by miserable, greying baby boomers and sometimes, ironically, the alt-right. But I do believe certain sections of our generation, myself included, are hyperempathetic. We want everyone to acknowledge other people’s different struggles and work on ways to make their lives easier. And in some ways, I do wonder if VR of this kind is almost unnecessary for some of my peers, given how empathetic they are already?