The Fear of the Negligence

     It has occurred to me for a while now that people tend to drift over time from less to more positive stimulation. We used to eat food off the ground which we gathered, guided by our tastes. Then, we started to manipulate those taste sensations by manipulating the food we put in our mouths. Now, with the chemistry of cooking, we balance individual flavors like salty, sweet, and umami, in order to create pleasing psychological sensations: positive stimulations.

     Our entertainment has evolved over time. We began with spoken stories, passed through word of mouth, to books which allowed for the convenience of being spatially and temporally removed from the story teller. We had plays, which came after story telling, in which we added visual immersion to our entertainment. Then came movies, again allowing spatial and temporal separation from the source: the actors and stage. Then came TV, which allows for a consistent stream of cinematic stimulation. Now we have video games, which allow for unprecedented levels of immersion as we interact with an environment created for us, and in many different ways as we’ve talked about this semester. Even within each category, evolution occurs. Fiction books came about, for the longest time only non-fiction books (and traditional tales/myths) were written, which allowed the transcendence of reality for further stimulation of the mind. New technology in filming allows for better sound and picture quality. Each step allows new positive stimulation both physical (auditory, visual, etc.) and mental (escapism, imaginative, cathartically-pleasing stories, etc.) and so we push our technology and our creative abilities to further the creation of this stimuli.

     But with the escapism of entertainment, that which allows us to not take part in our daily strife of finding food, water, shelter, and mates, has come the fear of their being too much of it. When fiction books were becoming a “thing” there was worry that children/persons who spent time reading them were wasting time that they could be reading educational books. We’ve all had the experience of our parents kicking us off the TV and telling us to either go outside or read a book (ironically).

     Which leads us to video games: the first medium which totally robs us of our own senses, and places us in someone else’s. You don’t play a character in a book or movie, but in a video game, we describe the experience as “playing” someone else. I am no longer me, worried about getting a job, but I am someone else, who may indeed have a similar task ahead of them, but because we work with the assumption that such a task in conquerable, and allows use to go about it in ways we cannot in the real world (sadly I can’t caste spells in an interview,) and we do so with minimal physical effort on our part (sit at keyboard and stare,) we are more inclined to escape to the far cooler world of the game than stay in “reality.”

     Like I said, the concern of neglecting for the fantastical has always existed, but they seem more acute when we can imagine games like OASIS from Ready Player One, or the Matrix from The Matrix in which immersion is near total, making realty but a shadow of a possible existence. What stops us from choosing the fake over the “real.” In stories with virtual realities, our main character always exits the fake reality, Neo fighting against the Matrix, Wade choosing reality instead of OASIS at the end of the book, thus choosing the real over the fake. But, I’ve never heard a convincing argument as to why one should choose the real over the fake, except for a visceral “reality is better.” Even The Matrix just grazes over the question. Why does Neo fight for reality? Why does Wade choose the real world over OASIS? What stops our fat, gluttenous selves from choosing the imaginative, highly stimulating world of virtual reality over benign, beige reality? It’s not often people prefer an apple to an apple pie.

  3 comments for “The Fear of the Negligence

  1. Cronimus
    April 4, 2013 at 12:36 am

    Well, to start off the question your blog post asks is indeed interesting, but getting there was a bit of a drawn out experience. However, I will avoid discussing the blog structuring until the end of this comment. It is interesting to wonder why people would rather spend their time outside rather than just in a virtual world, but at the same time I think that there are plenty of reasons people choose to go outside into the, “…benign, beige reality?” as you call it. Which doesn’t quite make sense to me because in my opinion reality is quite colorful, and it is also quite cruel and malicious at times. Although video games can be quite immersive, and I myself have spent many hours on them, you make them sound like they are almost all consuming activities that shackle the person to their couch, desk, or what have you. The average person playing video games doesn’t want to actually live in the video game world, but rather they would prefer a temporary escape from the real one. The users will always have an active life outside of the game that they want to participate in despite how close they are to that final level. There was a life established before the user first played the game. Preexisting things would make the average person not want to be forever within the world of a game because like you said that is not their world. I am actually quite fond of what you said at the end, “It’s not often people prefer an apple to an apple pie.” Thinking on this I believe that people will prefer something that is fresh and more real. More alive rather than something that is covered with other things. People want to always be involved with the real world because it is just that, it’s real. In the back of the user’s mind they know that in a sense they’re escaping this reality, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. But, the other thing is that most don’t want to lose themselves so much in the game that they feel as if they’re running away from this reality. As for the Matrix question I believe that in the film The Matrix system is a cage of sorts for humanity, and Neo is fighting to break free of it.

    Now, about your blog structure and such I’m going to give you some opinions, and no I am not claiming that my blogs have been masterworks of writing. The opening paragraph, in my opinion, was actually quite unnecessary because I expect to read about video games, not food. The entertainment paragraph seems to be somewhat cliché in that aspect of restating something that is possibly common knowledge, or if it isn’t then you might want to try to sum it up a in a single sentence or two. Also, you might want to go back and proofread real quick before posting, or go back and edit, to avoid certain areas where you seemed to change your mind half way through. Places such as the, “(sadly I can’t caste spells in an interview,)” opt for commas rather then parentheses because that breaks up the writing a bit too much. I’m going to stop now, but overall I did like the question your blog post asked.

  2. nelsondee0085
    April 4, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Your comment in which you state “but with the escapism of entertainment, that which allows us to not take part in our daily strife of finding food, water, shelter, and mates, has come the fear of their being too much of it.”

    I think that this is valid in that there are certain things about video games which the society outside of the gamer circle has become aware of and concerned with. Whenever there is too much of a good thing or a mode of entertainment which becomes immensely popular such as video games, there comes an inclination to critique and challenge what constitutes as “good,” entertainment. What I think about this idea is that it is important to realize is that it is just that: entertainment.

  3. aallen13
    April 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    After reading Ready Player One I too wondered the same thing, why does he choose the real world over the fantasy world. I also began to think could this eventually happen to us, that one day we will become so obsessed with playing a different us that it will one day take over?

    I think the reason Wade chooses reality is, similar to the answer above, because it’s simply entertainment. It’s a way for him to escape from his crappy world and be in a world where he can do whatever he wants.Yes he can date Art3mis in OASIS but it becomes more personal to date someone in the real world or any other kind of relationship.

    We may enjoy playing a different version of ourselves in a video game but at the end of the day the friends you have in the virtual world may not be the person you thought they were. Just like in Ready Player One, for some people it can cause problems. Wade also mentions at one point when he’s on the bus leaving the stacks, he looks out the window, noticing the world around him. You end up taking your real life for granted.

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