Virtual Realms: The Effects on Individuals and Society Social Media, currently the most dependent and addicting entity the world has ever known. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, Snap Chat, etc. the list goes on and on, everyone is on it nonstop for twenty hours a day, seven days a week, and three hundred and sixty five days a year, no matter the time, place, or day. Social Media also happens to be equivalent to the OASIS, the monopolistic online virtual world that plays a major role in the fictional novel “Ready Player One. Ready Player One was written by American novelist Ernest Cline and published in August of 2011.
This novel ended up winning both the Alex Award and the Prometheus Award in the year 2012. Ready Player One is based on the main character Wade Watts’s quest to find an Easter egg through the virtual world of the OASIS. The Easter egg has so much valuable that the person who finds it receives a humongous reward. It was hidden by OASIS founder James Halliday who recently succumbed. While the people in the fictional novel Ready Player One depend on the OASIS, social media is essential to life in the real world.
These virtual realms have both positive and negative effects on their respective individuals and societies. It is unbelievable how much the world depends on social media that people don’t even realize that it is an addiction. Although this addiction doesn’t put someone’s life in jeopardy, it is one of the worst and also pretty insurmountable. In the beginning of Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One”, the main character Wade Watts is explaining the virtual world of OASIS to the readers of this novel. Watts claims that his “generation has never known a world without OASIS” (34).
In other words, Watts asserts that OASIS has played an integral role not only in his life but also the lives of his peers. This proves how Wade’s generation is completely addicted to the OASIS and they can’t live one second without it. The same can be said of the current generation in the real world where social media is somehow a necessity to survive. The current generation logs on to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Myspace, etc. to see what their friends and family are doing during the course of the day.
People waste so much time stalking their peers that they forget to make advancements in their own lives. Furthermore, People can achieve so many things during the time they are squandering using social media which gets them nowhere in life. Now that’s a guarantee! Social media is so dependable and addicting that it is negatively affecting individuals both in the real world and in the OASIS. The constant use of social media is definitely a negative effect on one’s live but others have to understand why people constantly use it during the course of the day.
The reason why the people in Ready Player One use the OASIS can relate to the reason why people in the real world are attached to social media. In Wade Watts’s perspective, OASIS was “like having an escape hatch into better reality. The OASIS kept me sane. It was my playground and my preschool, a magical place where anything is possible” (18). In other words, Watts asserts that OASIS is an escape from the actual world where famine, poverty, and disease were major concerns in the year 2045.
Currently, the United States is also attempting to solve problems that could affect the future of this country. Terrorism, High Unemployment Rates, Global Warming and the decline in economy are all problems that America is currently facing. Social Media is the equivalent of the OASIS because they are both escape routes from the problems going on in the real world. Unfortunately, the problems occurring in the real world even have their effects on young children. Watts claims that OASIS “is the setting of all my happiest childhood memories.
When my mom didn’t have to work, we would log in at the same time and play games or go on interactive storybook adventures together. She used to have to force me to log out every night, because I never wanted to return to the real world. Because the real world sucked” (18). Watts is insisting that OASIS is where all of his favorite childhood memories occurred because the real world sucked. There is no doubt that people in the real world can relate to Wade because everything on social media is also portrayed in methods that are either too positive or too good to be true.
People constantly use the available virtual realms (social media in the real world and the OASIS in Ready Player One) because it is the only jailbreak from the unpleasant realities in their respective worlds. The great thing about the OASIS and some social media websites (Twitter, Instagram, and Snap Chat) is how you can remain anonymous. These websites don’t require an individual to implement their birth name on their account; instead the account name can be anything the user desires (e. g. @therealjohnnyboy or @pozolelover34).
However, the anonymity can also create negative effects because there is no certain way someone knows who they are talking while on social media or on the OASIS. In Ready Player One, main character Wade Watts also had this same dilemma about fellow gunter Art3mis. Watts states that Art3mis “never revealed her true identity, of course. Or her age or location in the real world. There was no telling what she really looked like. She could be fifteen or fifty. A lot of gunters even questioned whether she was really female, but I wasn’t one of them” (35).
In arguing this claim, Watts claims that Art3mis has done an excellent job in keeping her personal information to herself. It was a mystery who she was or what was her age, gender, or the city she lived in. Although Art3mis does this for safety reasons, it can be dangerous for the people whom she has constant communication. They doesn’t know who they are talking; Art3mis can be someone who portrays herself as someone else In the past, people have portrayed themselves in a certain image online and then they find out that they aren’t the person they say they were online.
The term that best fits this act is known as catfishing. Wade Watts was a victim of catfishing in Ready Player One. Watts explains to the readers about the first time he met his online best friend Aech, “I turned and walked slowly across the darkened kitchen, then pulled back the headed curtain covering he doorway to the cab. A heavyset African American girl sat in the RV’s driver seat, clutching the wheel tightly and staring straight ahead…. There was no doubt in my mind. The young woman sitting in front of me was my best friend, Aech” (318).
Wade Watts is insisting that his online best friend Aech is completely different from the way she portrayed herself online. Aech is actually an African American female in the real world after she had portrayed herself as Caucasian male on the virtual realm, OASIS. At first, Wade felt betrayed but quickly got over it and started to laugh at this stunning revelation. This quotation shows us that an individual never stops learning information about the people whom they think they know well. Although Aech’s reason for portraying herself as a man are valid she still lied to Wade.
Watts assumed that he knew Aech (his best friend) from head to toe but there is no doubt that he was completely wrong about that assumption. The anonymity online has proven to be more of a weakness than a strength in real life social media and in the OASIS. In recent years, the advancements done in the field of technology have been completely astonishing. Indeed, it has allowed individuals to communicate with others from different parts of the world. It is definitely possible for someone to have conversation with someone in Japan, South Africa, Canada, Argentina, India, Romania, etc.
The best part about is that messages are sent efficiently and it also happens to be free. Communication with people from different parts of the world usually is family related or video game related. In Ready Player One, Shoto explains to Wade about his actual relationship with Daito. Shoto claims that he was not related to Daito and they met six years ago at an OASIS support group for hikikomori. Soon they became best friends and hung out almost daily together in the OASIS. Later, they decided to join forces and search for the Easter egg together.
Shoto points out that he never met Daito in the real world and recently discovered his birth name when he saw a news article that reported his apparent “suicide” (242-243). In other words, Shoto asserts to Wade/Parzival that Daito was not his brother and they first met about six years ago. They soon became best friends/allies on the OASIS and the rest is history. This quotation shows us how virtual realms allows people to befriend others online despite never actually meeting them in person and keeping those friendships strong for a good period of time.
Furthermore, Wade Watts or Parzival ended up befriending a lot of people while using the OASIS such as Aech, Daito, Shoto, Art3mis, etc. The advancement of technology is responsible for users of all virtual realms to communicate with people from different regions of the world. The OASIS and the virtual realms that are currently available in the real world (e. g. Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter, Facebook, etc. ) have effects on their people that are can be either positive or negative. The internet plays an essential role on the people in the real world and the fictional world in Ready Player One.
Just like everything else in life, it has its good characteristics and it also has its bad characteristics. Virtual Realms are exceptionally great as long as someone doesn’t fall to vulnerability because betrayal is what’s coming next. In other words, there is no problem with the use of virtual realms but also don’t get completely attached to them or else there will be problems waiting for on the horizon that are simply insurmountable to defeat. There are a lot of Aechs out in the real world so please don’t be another victim like Wade Watts was.