11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name (Rev 13:11-17).
This depicts the False Prophet, who's the Minister of Propaganda for the Antichrist. Suppose we construe this vision futuristically. On that interpretation, it might refer to technology that the False Prophet uses to captivate the masses. The description is cast in terms of witchcraft because that's a category familiar to the original readers of Revelation, but its futuristic counterpart would be technological rather than supernatural.
Suppose the False Prophet uses a virtual reality game to ensnare and deceive the masses. As someone who came of age before the advent of smartphones, social media, and computer games, I'm astonished and alarmed by how addictive smartphones are. So many people have an absolutely compulsive need to stay glued to that display screen. I have a teacher friend who told me "I know one 'student' who has gotten so bad that he finds he cannot listen to/watch an online lecture/video for a class without playing a video game at the same time. He also calls people while driving in order to keep from falling asleep."
Imagine the False Prophet using a collective, interactive video game to seduce and delude the masses. As long as they get their fix, they don't care about what's happening in the real world, outside the game. They will surrender their freedom for their fix. A game in which everyone can participate. A contagious game. Everyone is talking about the game. The game becomes their truth. Their idol. Their moral frame of reference. If you don't play the game, that makes you suspect. That makes you politically subversive.
I'm not a technophobe. But I'm stuck by how many people are hooked and how easily they are hooked. They'd panic if they were incommunicado for 30 minutes. I see couples and friends walking down the street, side-by-side, but they're not talking to each other. Rather, each one is staring at their respective smartphone. They can't peel their eyes away from that little display screen. The psychological equivalent of cubicle people immersed in a self-contained bubble.