The hidden side of politics

Why I’ve Never Mixed Weed With Virtual Reality

Reported by WIRED:

When I was 17 years old, two things held particular sway over my imagination. One of them was virtual reality. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and the movie Lawnmower Man both came out that year, and while I had never heard of the technology that was bubbling through labs and startups thousands of miles from my Midwestern home, the idea of entering and truly existing inside a digital world became a source of endless fascination.

The other thing was—well, the other thing was weed.

First off, yes, obviously. It’s one of the great vice-based rites of passage. But smoking unlocked something transformative in my brain. It wasn’t necessarily that it rendered aesthetic experiences more vivid (which it did), or that the euphoria that came along with that beat the hell out of most of the other emotions that otherwise define adolescence (which it did). It was that creativity and communication seemed to happen on a different frequency, a range uncluttered by self-consciousness and second guessing.

More than 25 years later, in news that would probably thrill 17-year-old me, both of those things are still part of my life. I’ve written about VR since it first reemerged in the early part of this decade. I’ve used it to meditate, to spend time with friends, to travel through space, and sometimes just to watch Netflix in a place that isn’t my living room. I have no idea how much time I’ve spent inside a headset, but between the exotic and the pedestrian it’s likely enough to qualify for dual citizenship with the metaverse.

As for cannabis: hell, it’s California. In New York, I had a delivery guy who kept his inventory in a fake tennis-ball can. Here, I can walk into a store, browse a laminated menu, and walk out with any one of dozens of strains, optimized for whatever mood or medium I prefer. You have a glass of wine with dinner, I have a little Gelato with some added terpenes. (Operative term here being “a little.” I’m not 17 anymore.) I’ve used it to meditate, to spend time with friends, to travel through—you get it.

So it’s with great trepidation that on this, the holiest most annoying of days, that I unburden myself: I have never used VR while high. Never even considered it, despite their seemingly synergistic natures. And even though this pattern established itself organically, I’ve come to realize that it distills everything I think (and fear) about immersive technologies, and about the age of simulated experience that they herald.

As our screens and speakers and computers got better and better over the last 50 years, each new wrinkle brought with it an unspoken cultural dare: That high-def TV is cool, but did you ever watch it … on weed? Surround Sound, IMAX screens as tall as your apartment building, Pixar and ILM wizardry that made the impossible real. The draw wasn’t in a bigger, louder, sharper experience—it was how much more mind-blowing it would be in conjunction with tetrahydrocannabinol. Then flat screens gave way to something much, much realer, and the calculation changed considerably.

Had VR come along when I was in high school or college, rolling blunts or trying to achieve orbit via three-foot bong, I definitely would have crossed the streams. Alteration wasn’t just intrinsic to the experience, it was the very thing that I chased. As time passed, though, I sought just the opposite. Cannabis became a conduit into myself, a way to better notice my reactions and patterns, to look at my life and relationships from a different perspective. The immediate effects would fade, but I would retain an emotional memory of the experience—a memory that added to those that came before and after it, gradually coalescing into a clearer sense of self.

VR initiates a similar progression of alteration to awareness. Presence, the phenomenon by which your brain buys in to your virtual surroundings, brings with it a rush of novelty, an existential whoa-man that leaves you immediately wanting to turn up the intensity. Over time, though, you settle into presence and learn that it unlocks something much more replicable and sustainable than killer adrenaline-rush experiences—it deepens the time you spend with people, and with yourself.

I don’t know that I’d articulated any of that to myself when VR became a part of my life. What I sensed was that what I was doing and seeing and hearing and most of all feeling in virtual reality needed no embellishment. VR was, by its very nature, as still and centering as the perspective I’d come to relish from cannabis.

I’m not alone in my abstinence. Jaron Lanier, the father of modern virtual reality, famously eschews all drugs, but in his 2017 memoir, Dawn of the New Everything, he spends a bit of time exploring the parallels between VR and a famous psychedelic:

VR is sometimes compared to LSD, but VR users can share a world objectively, even if it is fantastical, while LSD users cannot. VR worlds will require design and engineering effort, and will be best when you are willing to make the effort to create and share your own experiences. It will be like riding a bike, not a roller-coaster ride.

Could you chomp an edible and head into a trippy celestial adventure? Go for it. For me, doing so would reduce VR to a spectacle, when in truth it’s more of a substrate—for exploration both internal and external. No need to overwhelm your senses when you’re redefining them altogether.

More Great WIRED Stories




  1. Emma White Reply

    Thanks for your posting. I also think laptop computers are getting to be more and more popular lately, and now are usually the only sort of computer included in a household. This is because at the same time that they’re becoming more and more very affordable, their working power keeps growing to the point where there’re as powerful as personal computers coming from just a few in years past.

  2. Paul Butler Reply

    I’ve noticed that fixing credit activity must be conducted with tactics. If not, it’s possible you’ll find yourself endangering your rating. In order to succeed in fixing your credit history you have to take care that from this instant you pay all your monthly costs promptly in advance of their planned date. It is really significant for the reason that by certainly not accomplishing that area, all other actions that you will take to improve your credit rating will not be helpful. Thanks for giving your suggestions.

  3. Lauren Kerr Reply

    I haven’t checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are really good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend. 🙂

  4. Adam Morrison Reply

    Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I am impressed! Very useful info particularly the closing section 🙂 I take care of such info a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  5. Natalie Kelly Reply

    Hi there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it very difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions? Appreciate it

  6. Emma Manning Reply

    There are definitely a number of particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a great level to convey up. I provide the ideas above as common inspiration however clearly there are questions like the one you bring up the place the most important factor will likely be working in sincere good faith. I don?t know if greatest practices have emerged around things like that, however I’m positive that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Both girls and boys feel the impact of just a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

  7. Fiona Harris Reply

    I’m not sure exactly why but this website is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later and see if the problem still exists.

  8. Rebecca Peters Reply

    Very nice article and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to employ some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

  9. Nathan Lyman Reply

    I precisely had to say thanks all over again. I do not know the things that I might have worked on without those ways documented by you directly on my situation. This was a very distressing case in my position, but viewing a new specialized manner you handled it took me to cry over happiness. Now i’m thankful for the support and thus expect you find out what an amazing job you are doing instructing the mediocre ones through the use of your web page. I’m certain you have never come across any of us.

  10. Caroline Manning Reply

    Something more important is that when evaluating a good on the net electronics retail outlet, look for web shops that are regularly updated, preserving up-to-date with the latest products, the top deals, plus helpful information on services. This will ensure that you are handling a shop that really stays over the competition and gives you what you ought to make intelligent, well-informed electronics expenditures. Thanks for the essential tips I have really learned from the blog.

  11. Sue Sanderson Reply

    One more thing is that when evaluating a good online electronics store, look for online stores that are constantly updated, preserving up-to-date with the hottest products, the very best deals, along with helpful information on services and products. This will make sure that you are getting through a shop which stays atop the competition and offers you what you ought to make intelligent, well-informed electronics expenditures. Thanks for the crucial tips I’ve learned through the blog.

  12. Dylan Murray Reply

    Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? With thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *