I thought I would divert from the political climate for a bit and talk about another issue that seems to be pressing: How much time we spend “plugged in” to our devices and games. I began really marinating on this topic when Sony announced Playstation VR, a futuristic headset that allows anyone who wears it to become immersed in the game they are playing. I know that there are other VR headsets out there, Samsung being one of them, but since I am a Sony Playstation fan girl, I really only feel the need to speak of that particular headset.
I can’t help but think of movies like Wall-E when it comes to this particular topic.
Then I really start to delve deeper into my thoughts, and remember that there have been countless dramas warning us about the potential harm of VR. Though I hate to admit it, the show Sword Art Online comes to mind…
Now I am one of those rare people who is actually on the fence about this show, joining my favorite YouTuber Arkada, I love the first few parts of it but hated the latter half of the first season and didn’t even bother with the second. So I’m just going to talk about the parts I watched and enjoyed.
Here’s the synopsis from Crunchyroll:
n the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players control their avatars with their bodies using a piece of technology called: Nerve Gear. One day, players discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive unless they reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss.
Now I did leave out one key plot element of the story: If the players die in the game, they in fact die in real life. I won’t go into the fact that they completely screwed this up and didn’t use it to it’s full effectiveness as the show went on, but in the beginning they used it very well. Death as we all know is permanent and they really made this fact weigh on our protagonists in the beginning.
I believe that shows like SAO and Wall-E are, much like Brave New World or 1984, cautionary tales for the twenty first century. See we spend SO much time on our phones now, I won’t lie I’m guilty too, that we tend to put these blinders on and only see what we want to see. We don’t really appreciate things as much; things like a hand written letter instead of an email, or a flower growing in between the cracks of the sidewalk (something I always thought was a great metaphor for nature vs industrialization). We are too busy playing Pokemon GO to realize that there are actual animals out there we can go see (though I wouldn’t recommend throwing things at them), sure it got people outside and off their butts, but it didn’t solve the underlying problem that we spend way too much time plugged in.
I know that it’s hard to not be plugged in. After all this world is fast paced, and just about everything is digital. Hell I wouldn’t be able to do this blog post without being plugged in. But my point isn’t to just drop everything and become a goat-herder in the Alps for the rest of your life; it’s to realize that there are much more beautiful things out there. Think about the last time you saw a sunset, or felt sand between your toes, or went on a stroll through the woods; what did you feel then? Chances are you didn’t feel the weight of responsibility that our digitized society places on you. You were in that moment, mindful of everything around you: the feel of the breeze, the smell of the ocean or earth, and the way the sun danced on the horizon.
Jon Kabat-Zinn is an author that I discovered a few years ago. His book Wherever you Go, There You Are talks about mindfulness and meditation. The practice of mindfulness has helped me immensely in my struggle against depression and anxiety, and it’s something I encourage all of you to start practicing. The great thing about mindfulness practice is that it can be done anywhere, from your cubicle to your car.
Be in this moment. This world is fast-paced, and people will run you over. But remember that there are things in this world, beyond your screen, that are worth your attention. Those things are precious, so don’t loose sight of them.