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Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and is becoming an integral part of our lives, but evolution does not necessarily mean betterment. This can be observed thoroughly in the globally hit novel ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline, the movie ‘Wall-E’ by Andrew Stanton and the article ‘The Good and the Bad of Escaping to Virtual Reality’ by Monika Kim. Technology exists in almost every activity in our life. Technological devices are making our job more straightforward, but they are also a curse in disguise for humanity which approves the fact that these dystopic elements are prevailing in the fictional as well as the real world. Throughout each of these sources, the idea of technical advancement, dependence on technology and an escape to a virtual utopia has been enhanced. When these three sources are scrutinized, the extreme reliance on these technological devices utilized for escapism is quite pronounced, which affects the humans physically and psychologically while terminating their potential to establish an interaction with others in the society.
The advancement of technology over the years has been proven to improve human lifestyle and working conditions. It has also known to be beneficial for medical research, military purposes and much more. However, the excess of everything is disadvantageous. In the novel Ready Player One, the virtual reality known as “The OASIS”. It is an online community and game is created with hyper-realistic graphics which makes it almost impossible to differentiate between the real and virtual world. This environment is the place where people spend majority of their time. Even Though the OASIS seems to be fun and a paradise to all but it also, unnoticeably has serious effects to people, both physically and psychologically. Since the OASIS is a virtual reality and is used while seated, it restricts the physical movement of the individual in the real world. The OASIS allows its users to customize what they look like in that community and create their own avatars. “I was also an OASIS addict, so the only exercise I usually got back then was running away from bullies before and after school.” The fact that everyone is super indulged into the OASIS essentially leaves them with no time to stretch their real-life muscles. All their energy is spent on moving their eyeballs and their hands which is quite rare. Since the OASIS is not only a gaming platform but also a widespread community where everything is possible just like in the real world, it is easier for people to make friends and approach people there because it is anonymous and nobody knows your real identity. This is why people prefer the OASIS over the real world. “It was much more than a game or an entertainment platform”. Physical effects are only one of the consequences of the OASIS, and they are not even the worse ones, OASIS also has a psychological effect on the players. An OASIS player is mentally attached to the game and the virtual world he or she lives in, which is quite valuable to them and in such a way that they are inseparable. The OASIS did provide the people with freedom and fun but at the same time destroyed their ability to communicate with each other in the real world which is where they actually are. Although the technology in today’s date isn’t as advanced as shown in Ready Player One, but us humans are slowly trying to reach that this type dystopic level of technology day by day. “With VR, it is possible that instead of simply escaping reality by focusing on a TV show, for example, people may choose to replace an unhappy reality with a better, virtual one”. This demonstrates the futuristic growth in technology that is slowly catching up to the environment of the OASIS which people will be able to access when they feel lonely or upset. Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted back in 2003 that “we will spend most of our time in virtual environments … We will all become virtual humans” which today’s generation seems to be approaching if we follow our day to day activities closely. We are slowly starting to live in a world with escapism “as critics of increased TV, Internet, and smartphone usage will tell you”. For a few years now, increased usage in technical devices has resulted in a significant amount of psychological effects on the people. “In 2004, Zhang Xiaoyi, a 13-year-old from China, reportedly committed suicide after playing WoW for 36 consecutive hours, in order to join the heroes of the game he worshipped”. This shows that the over use of gaming technology such as the virtual reality headset can be more harmful than it is fun. Due to the high graphics of the VR, it makes people believe that they are still in the real world which makes it harder for them to come out into the real world and behave accordingly. The technology in our world hasn’t reached that of the OASIS but looking at the fast growth in the advancement, the day isn’t far when the OASIS can be brought into a dystopian reality.
The excess of everything is always bad. The movie Wall-e explores the idea of technology and easy access to every activity around. In the movie, humans are shown to be at such a peak in the advancement of technology that it has more or less started to take over them. Technology developed by the humans in the movie has demolished every physical activity they once did in their everyday life. Moreover the humans living in the axiom are so attached to their screens that they miss out on all other things the spaceship consists of. The special chairs they have are designed in such a way that it allows you to travel in it without any effort rather than just pushing a button. The screens attached to the chairs also keep you busy doing nothing but either talking to someone or watching something. Everyone is so occupied by the screens that they aren’t even aware of their surroundings or luxuries they have. “We have a jogging track”. They do not even know that things like jogging exist, to them sitting on a chair all day doing nothing is normal which is certainly unhealthy. Even though these ideas depicted in the movies may seem like an impossible reality, but it is actually closer than it seems to be. A fair amount of corporations such as Sony and Samsung are trying their best to reach a higher stage in technology. “One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people”. This demonstrates that although the technology to make wheelchairs, like shown in Wall-e, isn’t here but as time progresses, the day isn’t far when no one will be communicating face to face or even incorporating physical activity in their life. Recent studies in the technical field have shown to be focused on self driving cars which reduce human all human effort and makes the robot to everything. Being indulged in technology too much, not only impacts your physical health but also has a strong effect on your social life and communication with the people around the world.
According to the novel ready player one and movie Wall-e, the easiest way to escape the adversities in our lives is to evade them while pretending they do not even exist. The novel thoroughly describes this concept throughout the novel. Due to the economic issues like poverty, energy crisis, widespread diseases, people find it easier to stay away from these problems and ignore them rather than finding a solution for them. The people escape these problems by spending majority of their time in the OASIS “I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world”. Due to the challenging lifestyle of the society and tuff living conditions, this is the only place where people feel like home. It seems preferable over the real world as people become more and more invested in it. OASIS is designed in such a way that no one ever feels neglected and there is always someone with whom you share your interests with. “Luckily, I had access to the OASIS, which was like having an escape hatch into better reality. The OASIS kept me sane. It was my preschool, a magical place where anything was possible”. The OASIS allowed its user to part of a whole new utopia where everything was possible and one was able to do anything they want anonymously. From playing games to running a business, anything that was possible in the real world, was possible in the OASIS. It granted the users the freedom to do anything they want and whenever they like. The environment of the OASIS was created such that everyone felt included and no one was judged based on their race or color as people have the opportunity to create their own avatar as well as a name to be known. These advantages provided by the OASIS persuade people to be more involved in the virtual world, rather than the real. Likewise, the movie Wall-e also depicts the idea of escapism quite well. Set in the future, humans abandon planet earth due to uncontrollable polluting and toxicity, and start living on a spaceship. Not solving the problem and rather changing paths is something that the society decided to do as it is easier and more convenient for themselves. Not only did they find an alternate solution to the problem but also made their lifestyle easier and relaxed. “Morning, Just a trim?”. The people of the future not only left earth but had also evolved in technology and created robots to do their work for them and demolish all the physical work they did except for drinking their food and water. “Sir, orders are: Do not return to Earth”. As robots control everything, humans are losing their ability to work and are becoming alarmingly dependent on machines to help them. Their wrong decision and choosing the easy path has made them lose the control they had over their lives once. Essentially, they are in self-imprisonment not realizing what they are missing out on, not apprehending the fact that changing their goal because of one obstacle in the path does not help them in any way possible but cripple the society. Furthermore, the societies depicted in these literary sources are shown to be defining the ideas of escapism and creating a new path instead of clearing old ones. These practices can lead to more destruction to reality and possibly to utopia created as well due to existing habits of escaping problems.
The societies in these works of literature are more or less the equivalent, the roots cause of social degradation of humans is also the identical, technology. The crippled societies exist due to the domination of technology and humans turn to escapism as their only resort. The humans in these pieces of literature use escapism as their daily means to run away from their problems, the ones they can certainly solve but do not want to because it takes an effort to fix them. All of their escapism relies on some form of technology that allows them to access a virtual world where they can enjoy in a way they couldn’t in the real world. While using these devices to run away from problems, they also damage themselves in the process. This sort of escapism costs them physical and mental degradation making them incapable of doing any extensive physical work and deteriorates their potential to discern that this addiction to the virtual world is injuring them. Physical limitation is not the only thing that comes complimentary with these devices, they are also accountable for making humans more disconnected from their surroundings than ever. Isolated in the real world, humans have nothing but loneliness at their disposal, the more time they spend on these devices, the more they steer away from reality. These robotic assistants/devices may look futuristic from a technological view, but in fact, are doing nothing except devolving humans. The benefit we acquire from these works of literature in the real world is that we can learn from their blunders and avoid the steps they have taken, in order to progress towards a better future.
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