Conventional wisdom would have you believe that spending time with people offline is more enjoyable than seeing them through a screen, but for one in four people it would appear that conventional wisdom is wrong. They're just as happy to FaceTime you as spend face time with you.
A recent survey found that 23 percent of people feel that virtual interactions with people and places “can be as good as being there in person.” In other words chatting over Twitter can be just as satisfying as meeting a friend for a drink. Visiting a vacation destination within the confines of a virtual reality headset could be just as good as going there in the flesh.
The market research firm GfK queried 27,000 online consumers in 22 countries spanning Europe, Asia, North America and South America. In Brazil and Turkey—perhaps the countries most enamored of the screen—that percentage shot up to more than a third. Ditto for younger age groups, with a third of those under 40 finding little difference between real and virtual life.
In the U.S., the percentage matched the global average, at 23 percent. Globally, only 15 percent of people strongly disagreed, saying they preferred real life to the digital version. Germany rejected the allure of the virtual world most strongly; a third of Germans surveyed rejected the premise that it could be as good as the real world.
As virtual reality technology improves, some have argued that it won't be long before the worlds inside a VR headset can easily compete with the world outside of them. For many people, though, it appears that moment has already arrived.