Tara Isabella Burton in The New Atlantis:
Reality is different these days. It isn’t just that we have the tools to experience reality differently, or augment reality, by affixing a Meta Quest headset or an Apple Vision Pro to our skulls. It isn’t just that we have the ability to quantify reality, through smartwatches and heart rate monitors and step counters and sleep trackers, or that we have the ability to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality, through social media filters so ubiquitous that there is now a whole cottage industry of plastic surgery devoted to making people’s fleshly faces match the selfies they post on Instagram. Nor is it just the fact that our social world includes the conversations we have with virtual personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, whose soothing voices greet us when we come home, or remind us of the weather.
All of these, of course, play some role in the seismic reimaging of our selves, and our world, that the Internet — in particular, smartphone-enabled online culture — has engendered. But the shift we’re experiencing is bigger, and more totalizing, than any single phenomenon.