Imagine a synagogue where a holographic burning bush recites the Decalogue, or a cathedral where saint icons speak to you directly, or maybe animated deities waving their many arms in Hindu temples. Immersive idolatry is the future of false religion. With 3 billion users worldwide — and zero sense of sacred boundaries — Facebook is poised to lead this spiritual revolution.
From the New Atlantis to Techno-Occultism
It’s true that with enough hyperbole, anything can be described as a “religion.” People often say things like “Art is my religion” or “Nature is my religion.” Critics also use this to scold their opponents, perhaps accurately, saying “Science is their religion” or even “Video gaming is their religion.” But this is not hyperbole: Technology has become a religion.
Many observers are thrilled by these infernal archetypes. In 1988, Timothy Leary published his classic essay “Digital Polytheism: Load and Run High-tech Paganism.” The High Priest of LSD explicitly describes the personal computer in terms of ritual magic: “Today, digital alchemists have at their command tools of a precision and power unimagined by their predecessors."
Incidentally, both Microsoft and Facebook are among the many partners at the XR Association who’ve joined forces to manifest the Metaverse in our daily lives — from basic infrastructure to spirituality. Google, Sony, and HTC are also leaders in the effort. “Immersive technology will play a vital role in America’s drive to Build Back Better,” the XRA website promises. “Over the course of the next decade, the physical and digital worlds will merge at an unprecedented scale.”
While citizens bicker over vaccine mandates and debt ceilings, Big Tech is crafting a parallel universe for a new breed of humans to inhabit. Right now, the “magic mirrors” used to enter that world are touchscreens in our palms. In the coming years, we’ll be wearing them on our foreheads. Each of us will be free to spiral off into our own inconsequential reality, playing make-believe in the shadow of a homogenizing corporate umbrella. It will be heaven on earth.
Maybe you don’t buy that story, and that’s fine. Don’t worry about it! If Zuckerberg’s proposed universal basic income is sufficiently generous, the powers that be will just buy it for you.