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Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg visited Puerto Rico in VR as a cartoon

Why? Who knows!

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg popped on an Oculus Rift to show off Facebook’s new virtual reality platform, Facebook Spaces. Along with Facebook social VR chief Rachel Franklin, he visited some fun, exciting places that you wouldn’t usually get the chance to go to in your lifetime – space, his house, and hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

Yep, cartoon Rachel and Mark take a little tour of Puerto Rico with big, spooky VR grins across their faces as they survey the damage. Throughout, they talk about how cool it is that they can really experience something many, many people wish they could escape without actually having to, you know, be there! Ew!

He had good intentions. Kind of. He wanted to simultaneously brag about his new technology and his relief efforts! And yes, as he said, Facebook have donated $1.5 million to Puerto Rico. And Facebook have done really great work for connectivity, community, and with the Red Cross. That’s nice. And the technology is impressive. But maybe there’s a better way to convey both of those points than to virtually wander around Puerto Rico, voyeuristically crying that “it feels like we’re really here!” and “you can feel like you’re in the middle of it!” They even – no word of a lie – find time for a little high five. But when that all gets a bit too much, Rachel says brightly, “back to California?” you know, where it’s safe. Where we are lucky enough to actually live. 

As well-meaning as Zuckerberg’s little tour might have been, it’s hard to see how he could possibly not have realised that it would always seem flippant to see a little Mii-esque version of him bobbing around Puerto Rico. And in future, when showing off this technology, there are some absolutely amazing, fun places to visit in VR that are hard to get to: the rainforest! The pyramids! A lovely deserted beach! Literally anywhere that people aren’t currently having a major humanitarian crisis!