2. How does looking at Ready Player One highlight flaws in our current society?
Ready Player One highlights flaws in our society early on in a very obvious way. On the very first page Wade tells us that the people of earth were dealing with the aftermath of “the ongoing energy crisis, catastrophic climate change, widespread famine, poverty,and disease”. He says that big news would be of a “new killer virus or another major city vanishing in a mushroom cloud. These examples sound extreme but they also stem from problems we face today. Such as the zika virus, or the fact that our country is responsible for the very first attack via atomic bomb. The energy crisis begins with our constant need to use energy and an ever growing population. In order to keep cities growing we have resorted to some seriously dangerous ways of acquiring sustainable energy. One way this is done is by creating nuclear power, by which Uranium is removed from the ground during strip mining which has huge implications on our carbon footprint. Chemicals from all the waste we produce and the energy we use are having a devastating effect on our climate change and no doubt will be catastrophic if we continue on the way we have been. As far as poverty goes, this is an ongoing problem that has no end in sight. With the changing climate we face a problem with our agriculture which is likely to affect famine in our world as well as disease if we keep using chemicals (GMO) to produce our food. Some other flaws in Wade’s society that he doesn’t come right out and talk about are seen in the way he tells his story. The most obvious is the ease in which people surrender their real lives in order to live full time in a virtual reality. To be fair I don’t see the difference in spending money on things that make you happy that are fake vs real as long as it makes you happy. But to put so much effort into people and connections that could disappear if the OASIS were to crash,is risky. If that were to happen people would be forced to look around and see that they have wasted all their time on a dream. Anonymity aside, the risk of putting all your time into a virtual world means no one is focusing on fixing the real world. If you aren’t meeting your basic needs, how can you thrive in the OASIS? This isn’t lost on Wade however, in chapter 19 we see how he lives in his new apartment and how he forces himself to stay physically fit in order to continue on his quest. Side note: I WISH there was a diet/exercise program as effective as Wade’s (that’s locks him out of his home until he takes care of himself).
“The hour or so after i woke up was my least favorite part of each day, because I spent it in the real world. This was when I dealt with the tedious business of cleaning and exercising my physical body. I hated this part of the day because everything about it contradicted my other life. My real life inside the OASIS. The sight og my tiny one-room apartment, my immersion ring, or my reflection in the mirror- they all served as a harsh reminder that the world i spent my days in was not, in fact, the real one.”
It was a relief to me that Wade finally talked about how he is aware of how fake his world really is, and how it makes him feel. But the sad part is that even knowing what he knows, he still plugs in everyday and doesn’t change his ways. This also speaks to our own addiction to social media and where our priorities are. Given the choice between creating a life in a perfect world i’m not sure anyone would refuse.