Vision Pro, unscrambled, is “I Poison VR”
By Mark Hurst • February 2, 2024
Apple’s new face jail goes on sale today, a perfect moment to reveal the true meaning of the product. Vision Pro, unscrambled, is “I Poison VR.” We can see this clearly, if we just look at the device in the right way.
First, let’s acknowledge that Apple doesn’t want you to see clearly. For that matter, when you strap on the face jail, you won’t see anything real at all. In scrambling “I Poison VR” to name the device Vision Pro, Apple obscures the fact that it takes away your vision. You have no connection to the outside world – zero – except whatever passes through Apple’s filters and algorithms.
Last June, when Apple first announced the product, I wrote the column Rejecting the Apple Vision Pro to make this very point. In Apple’s promotional video, I wrote, we can see
people sit on a couch, talk to coworkers, play with their kids – all while blinded by the tentacled grip across their eyes. There’s nothing liberating, exciting, or hopeful in any of it. And if it looks futuristic at all, it’s because we’ve lost our sense of what the future should be. As Alan Jacobs writes, the machine “doesn’t look like something to use, it looks like something to be sentenced to – by an especially cruel judge.”
A few days later, I hosted a Techtonic episode called Ridiculing Apple’s Vision Pro headset (June 19, 2023), featuring an interview with Paris Marx. (You can stream the show here; the interview starts at 5:17.) Paris and I spoke about the value of ridicule – something he had just written about – during a time when Apple, and indeed all of Big Tech, is trying its hardest to normalize the everyday use of these isolating, antisocial devices.
A comfortable parasite
The majority of reviews of I Poison VR that I’ve read so far have focused on technical details, like how heavy the headset is and where the menu bars are placed – as though if it was light enough, comfortable enough, with an easy on-screen UI, of course we’d want to strap the thing onto our faces. It brings to mind the the facehugging xenomorph from the Alien movies: I really don’t care how much it weighs. A comfortable, well-designed parasite is still something that should be thrown in the river (or, if necessary, vented out the airlock).
The parasitic nature of the Vision Pro is baked in by Apple’s business model. The iOS App Store gorges on developers’ profits, demanding a monopolist’s tax of 15% or 30%, rates which have barely changed even after the courts forced Apple to allow competing app stores (sources: 1, 2). What are the chances that the Vision Pro will see a flowering of creativity and customer-inclusive innovation, when developers are already resentful of the Cupertino beast?
This is also “poison VR” for people who use the device. The fact is, a two-trillion-dollar company is asking you to shut yourself off from your family, your friends, and your dog in order fully inhabit an environment manipulated and fine-tuned to serve a growth-at-any-cost ethos. This means you’ll be kept fully passive, and under surveillance at all times, to be be slowly monetized, like a turkey on a slow bake. Don’t let them put a fork in you.
It’s a fair question: if this represents poison VR, could there exist, somewhere, healthy VR? I certainly can imagine uses of digital goggles that could be interesting or even helpful. They’re just not going to come from a two-trillion-dollar company that needs – to quote Marc Andreessen from my most recent column – “growth, growth, growth, more growth: more growth, growth, growth, more growth, more technology.”
So: what can we do to fight back? Ridicule is an excellent weapon. Monopolists, like authoritarians and tyrants of all stripes, can’t stand being made fun of.
Here are a few images you can send around to ward off the poison VR:
New York Post mention
Finally, I want to point you to a New York Post article that quoted me yesterday: Apple’s ‘monstrous’ Vision Pro both hailed as ‘revolutionary’ and slammed as ‘digital fentanyl (by Alyssa Guzman, Feb 1, 2024). I was happy to share my thoughts about Apple’s face jail and hope it helps people reject it, much as I helped kill Google Glass dead in 2013 when my column went viral.
Creative Good members can post a comment on this column on the Forum, where our community discusses hundreds of topics.
Please join as a Creative Good member. You’ll be among friends, and you’ll help keep this newsletter going.
Until next time,
Mark Hurst, founder, Creative Good – see our services or join as a member
Listen to my podcast/radio show: techtonic.fm
Subscribe to my email newsletter
Sign up for my to-do list with privacy built in, Good Todo
On Mastodon: @email@example.com
- – -