I Want To Be An Escapist When I Grow Up

by Noise Pollution

When I was much, much younger, I was obsessed with the concept of virtual reality. I would frequently flip through books in the library about technology of the future, hoping to see a section on VR, and if I did, I would check it out immediately. I would study these books thoroughly, though I can’t say I learned anything tangible from them. If they were books aimed at my age level, they were very… 90’s in their representation of the future. These books were basically written and laid out in a way that was meant to get a kid excited, with flashy colors and wacky-shaped word-bubbles with phrases like “Awesome!” and “So cool!” written in them. Anything I checked out that was above my age level was pretty over my head, though I pretended to understand it.

I used to write out ideas for VR video games. I created worlds that I wanted to live in. I was so bored with ours. It was so much more fun to pretend you were somewhere else, be it with a book, a video game, or my own imagination. I didn’t like our world. I never felt like I belonged here.

I wanted to live in a place where all progress I made was permanent. Every time I made an effort to do something, there was some sort of payoff for it, be it money or power or just becoming better at doing that thing. I wanted to be able to break the whole world down into numbers. I wanted to level up my “charisma” skill and suddenly, permanently be better at communicating with others. I invented worlds where I could. Large, forest-covered worlds with role-playing-game mechanics and reasons to take advantage of them. Small towns with little shops and taverns dotted the map, each one with a different problem that I could solve. And then I would solve it, and I’d be a hero.

It’s really hard to be hero in reality. Most heroes don’t come back from their efforts alive enough to appreciate the admiration they deserve. Most heroes are fighting for a country, not a cause. Most heroes get forgotten.

I’m still like that little kid, in some ways. I still want to be a hero, I’ve just given up on it. But honestly, it’s not like I believed it was possible back then. I was trying to create a place where I could matter because I didn’t think I’d ever find it here. And I haven’t.

I wish I had something to fight for. I wish I had a cause. I wish I had the ability to fight for it without losing my life in the process. I wish there was somewhere in the world where pure passion and devotion were enough to make a difference. I want to be capable of expressing myself through action, instead of just words like I do now. And I want to live in a world where all these things feel tangible. A world where I can be in a story, instead of just writing one.

It’s kind of crazy to think that some of this VR stuff is actually coming to fruition. Maybe its not in the full holodeck or Matrix-esque way that I want it to be, but the fact that any of this is happening in my lifetime at all is astounding. Maybe I can disappear into another world someday. Maybe the dreams I had as a child will come true, and I can leave this lonely little planet behind for something more fulfilling, for a few hours a day, at least.