Social media abuzz over Mark Zuckerberg VR photo

Was it a scene from the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, or a dystopian image straight out of "The Matrix" or George Orwell? Social media was buzzing with commentary after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself striding down the aisle at a Samsung Galaxy S7 press event, surrounded by virtual reality headset-wearing audience members. Some thought it was funny, others a little scary.

"It's bad for business," CNET Senior Editor Jeff Bakalar said about the viral photo. "I think the problem I have with the photo is it just so easily lends itself to this VR fear-mongering thing that's happening where everyone is losing their minds and saying 'that's it, we're all going to be in "The Matrix" now.' There's no coming back from this."

The image was one of three from the event that was posted to Zuckerberg's official Facebook page. He was at the Samsung event to highlight how his company's Oculus technology is powering Samsung's virtual reality device, the Samsung Gear VR, and to demonstrate both companies' commitments to developing the immersive technology.

I just joined Samsung to launch their new Galaxy smartphones and talk about the future of virtual reality.I told the...

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday, February 21, 2016

Some users mused about what the image says about the future of virtual reality.

Others created hilarious pop culture mashups.

Then, of course, some users made the obvious "1984" comparison.

Bakalar told CBS News that the image was just an unfortunate public relations misstep.

"He has this smile, 'look at these peasants as I walk by,'" Bakalar said. "I get it, it's like this perfect storm of stuff that happened and made for that perfect photograph."

On a more serious note, Bakalar stressed that Zuckerberg's appearance at the Samsung event was significant because it asserts the growing dominance that virtual reality technology will have in everyday life.

"If you want to complain about VR headsets taking over the world, just walk down the street and all the people you'll bump into who are buried into their phone," he said. "We are already addicted to one screen, why not put that screen on our faces?"

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    Brian Mastroianni covers science and technology for CBSNews.com