Virtual Reality, Cyberspace, and Embodiment: A Historical Debate with Contemporary Resonance

24 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2024

See all articles by Emmie Hine

Emmie Hine

Yale University - Digital Ethics Center; University of Bologna- Department of Legal Studies; KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Date Written: February 2, 2024

Abstract

This article critically examines the evolution of digital embodiment within cyberspace and virtual reality (VR), analyzing how the narratives surrounding embodiment differ from the experiences of marginalized communities. Narratives of Cartesian disembodiment abounded in the discourse but overlooked that there was no true disembodiment in cyberspace, just anonymity coupled with an assumed identity that was often that of the white, male majority. Early proponents of VR saw it as an inherently embodied phenomenon, but this was supplanted by a dualist narrative that dominated pop culture and academia. As cyberspace evolved from text-based to pictorial, it was acknowledged that bodies impacted online experiences, but many insisted that this should not matter. In today’s cyberspace-VR merging, dominant players insist that the body should be celebrated, but this does not come coupled with measures to ensure that they are. This article reveals how virtual experiences reflect societal biases, despite narratives to the contrary, and calls for a conscious and inclusive approach to technology design to foster truly equitable digital spaces.

Suggested Citation

Hine, Emmie, Virtual Reality, Cyberspace, and Embodiment: A Historical Debate with Contemporary Resonance (February 2, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4714432 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4714432

Emmie Hine (Contact Author)

Yale University - Digital Ethics Center ( email )

85, Trumbull Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

University of Bologna- Department of Legal Studies ( email )

Via Zamboni 22
Bologna, Bo 40100
Italy

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP) ( email )

Sint-Michielsstraat 6 box 3443
Leuven, 3000
Belgium

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