The Machine Stops is a well-known science fiction story by E M Forster, written in 1909. Forster imagines a world where people live in solitary rooms; technology meets all their wants and needs well, and travelling or meeting anyone face to face is seen as inconvenient and tedious. Of course, then things start to go wrong... Its a really good story, as well as being of interest as classic dystopian story raising worries about over-dependence upon technology and the substitution of direct experience for virtual ones.
For some time now it has been possible to live as a cyber-hermit if you want - in 2000-2001 DotComGuy (born Mitch Maddox) lived for a year without venturing outside his backyard - ("The experiment was supported by corporate sponsors who wanted to persuade more customers to shop on the internet"). Such an existence would be massively easier and more convenient now, 11 years later.
But I also notice another trend. Bands from every decade of my life are reforming and touring (unless, like the Rolling Stones, they never left the road) and tickets can cost far more than buying the artists' entire discography. There seems to be no shortage of people who want to go to other bug events, or to travel to exotic holiday destinations. And when they get there, the emphasis seems to be as much (or more) than ever about the direct experience you can have.
So I wonder whether there is something going on a bit like "the paradox of automation". "The more efficient the automated system, the more crucial the human contribution of the operators. Humans are less involved, but their involvement becomes more critical." (Because if things start to go wrong, the machine which normally turns out 100 perfect components a minute will start turning out 100 pieces of junk per minute until the humans intervene). My thought is that, the more experiences can become virtual, the more important or valuable become those experiences we choose to have directly.
I was thinking about this because of a recent family trip to Amsterdam to see the van Gogh museum. That was something we all enjoyed, even though it is easy enough to see most of Vincent's work in books or online at a fraction of the cost and time of a trip to Holland. True, you can't yet get reproductions that show you all the details (such as the texture caused by brush-strokes or a palette knife), but even if, as I expect, complete VR facsimile is possible before too long, I think we'd still have wanted to have gone in person.