This past Saturday at the Los Angeles Convention Center thousands of techies, college students and execs peered into the future together. At Virtual Reality Los Angeles, billed as the world’s largest independent VR conference, producers, directors and creatives showed off their latest 360-degree work. Nokia pulled out its new camera, filmmakers screened their refined work and startups sold Google cardboard-like gadgets for consumers to take it all in.
Panels were held to discuss both ethical and technological issues arising in the field. Attendees were given immersive demos where they wore their headsets and spun around in whatever world they were being placed. The day was full of excitement as well as uneasiness.
It was ground zero for millennials. Not only for the irresistible new gadgets, but also because virtual reality has many of the same characteristics as a millennial.
Virtual reality, the burgeoning immersive medium that has taken leaps and bounds in the past couple of years, feels like it’s finally on the cusp of, well, reality. We have a consumer headset on the market. VRLA draws in more and more people each cycle. VR is here. It’s real. Yet we still don’t know exactly where it’s going. How will it work? Where will it go?
The same can be said about us millennials.
One of the largest groups prancing around VRLA exhibits on Saturday was college students. More specifically, they were USC film and journalism students.
This was not a coincidence.
Just like VR, we are beginning to emerge. We’re a recurring conversation within think tanks and the Silicon Valley. Our next moves could mean something bigger for the economy, society and maybe the world. Or at least that’s how it feels. That’s what we’ve been hearing in recent years, as we become the largest demographic in the U.S.
We have to accept this uncertainty. For thousands of us at USC, it is our last semester. There is the uncertainty of where we will work, what city we will land in and who we will be surrounded by. For all intents and purposes, we won’t have full control for the beginning parts of our post-grad lives. There are outside factors to consider: the job market and student loans to name a few.
During one of the day’s panels, Bryn Mooster, co-founder of the news media company RYOT, offered some advice on virtual reality that can be applied to millennials’ thought processes as well.
“This is a moment when we have transformational, powerful and immersive tools to start telling stories,” Mooster said. “So I think that, again, it’s up to us to tell stories and certainly our hope is that we use this technology to try to connect the world in a way.”
Mooster said he recognized that virtual reality can be used for anything. The extra dimension added to entertainment calls for reflection on how we shape new narratives when given this power.
Right now, college students are doing the same by putting those dots together and creating their reality.
We won’t always have control over the whole system, but we have control over what we create.
We are experiencing rapid change just like the virtual reality realm, where we have the power to form narratives. We are adding another dimension to our lives — post-grad life. It’s up to us to create positive situations for ourselves.
That means meeting those internship deadlines. Prepping for those job interviews. Keeping our head afloat during the rigorous academic semester. Realizing that the breakups, roommate quarrels and lack of gas money to fill up your car are not end-of-the-world situations.
VRLA over the weekend exemplified what I have been writing about for the past semester and what I aim to accomplish in this coming one. I will analyze the unique pressures on millennials in the hopes of trying to alleviate our always-there anxiety.
And I’ll keep sharing narratives on the lives of young 20-somethings.
In the meantime, you keep creating and connecting. Let me know about what you think I should write. Like virtual reality, this column is a community effort.
So whether you’re a senior looking at job posting everyday, or a sophomore feeling the pressure of maintaining that GPA or even a junior immersing yourself in a country abroad, just know that life will all shape up soon.
The start of this semester is going to be the beginning of something new. Not really sure what it is, but it’ll be great.
After reading “Wait An L.A. Minute” on Mondays, join Jordyn Holman in her millennial conversations on Twitter @JordynJournals. She’s a senior studying print and digital journalism.