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Reality check, virtually

Miriam Orr

When was the last time you really checked into reality?

I'm talking, really stopping and checking into the realism of the world around us – the people living life with us, the crises around the world, the immediate concerns of the political world, the focus of religion? Did you know that the U.S. launched a focused missile attack on Syria in response to a chemical attack near Damascus earlier this week? Or, were you aware that the gross income for a Haitian family per year is about $350.00? Do you remember what your children were wearing to school this morning? Or, what was the last important thing you discussed as a family?

So much of our time is spent trying to catch up and blend into a virtual world, trying to bend ourselves to fit into it. We are constantly looking down into a world that is not our immediate realm – you probably know I'm talking about technology, and its dominance in our society. We are looking down into a world that was created for us by hands that are limited to available resources, instead of living in a world created by hands of a Perfect Creator.

This brings me to my film for the week, 'Ready Player One.'  Based off the hit 2011 Ernest Cline novel, it is currently regarded as one of Steven Spielberg's most courageous and accomplished works. This film follows the life of a young man, Wade Watts, in 2045 Ohio. However, the world isn't all it is cracked up to be in 2045, so citizens travel to the OASIS, a world made at the hands of a man known as Halliday – a world of virtual reality, where anyone can be anything, and do whatever they so desire.

In this world, no one knows the other truly, as players venture out with an alias and an appearance that very well may not be their own. Friendships and trust are conceived on lies and deception, all for one common goal: find three keys which will unlock total control of the OASIS, and unknown wealth as Halliday's successor. Here, in the OASIS, its game on against everyone else – save the few you may actually call "friends."

This film is actually gripping. I saw it twice in theatres simply because it is a truly fun piece of filmography – the graphics and cinematography are really something to marvel, which doesn't surprise me, because even back in the 1990s, Jurassic Park dazzled under Spielberg's leadership. The script is strong, the characters are well rounded, and the plot is engaging while also presenting a very real argument that makes us stop and think on how quickly life is being swept out beneath us, under the force of a virtual reality online.

Wade Watts has to learn to spend more time in the real world, considering the things around him in the immediate versus the things that are an afterthought. It's definitely a wakeup call – how much time do we spend online? Even now, as I'm sitting within my study in throes of sunrise, drinking coffee from a Star Wars mug, my Facebook page is open, and I'm awaiting a "good morning" text from my mom. I don't even have a landline phone, or cable TV in my apartment – I have web-based services. I barely have a DVD player, and shockingly enough, my VHS players still works.

So much of our lives are spent online that I fear people are losing touch with reality. We spring so quickly to the online world that it is often the first thing we do in the morning, the last thing we do at night, and we go through withdrawal over the day when it isn't at our fingertips. I'd wager that a strong 75% of the workforce uses some form of internet-accessible technology and are surfing the web while at the daily grind, though that's probably a modest number. That's not a statistic, that's just me. After all, I just saw a neighbor scrolling through forums on her phone as she slips into her car, me venturing to retrieve my mail in my pajamas.

Wade Watts learns a very important lesson from his adventures in the OASIS, but it takes a battle and a series of tragedy to get him out of the game and into his head. After all, reality is the only chance we get to make something of our lives – we can't live our lives online and expect to become great, or do something that matters. Sure, the world can watch us do it through Facebook LIVE and Google can tell us about it, but the very act of living cannot be completed through scrolling and making daily posts.

We can't hold our loved ones online, or protect them, or shield them from the world that is ready and willing to bring them down. We can't say goodbye to our loved one who is on their deathbed in a way that provides closure and counts from a phone– we can't truly understand the suffering going on in the world by watching a memoir of the event on our devices. Sure, technology has its perks, but no perk comes without loss. What are we really willing to lose for the sake of technology? What are we ready to sacrifice?

 Real people make events happen, not faces behind a screen. Life is so much more than an online quip, a "YAS GIRL" post, or the latest cat video on Youtube. Our generation needs to figure it out now, before we lose them to the online world, and our society becomes the degenerate wasteland of 2045 Columbus, Ohio in a Ready Player One world. Some would argue it is already happening around us, though I still have hope for reality.

Ready Player One is a great film, and I advise you to see it, just to spark the discussion with your peers, though there are a couple of places that were questionable at a theological level. As a whole, though, the film is good and action-packed, but I do advise you look into the film for yourself to see if it's age appropriate for your 'players'.

But regardless, people, this is virtually your reality check.

 


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