Throughout history, there have been lots of arguments about whether technology is good or bad for the human race. The truth is that technology can be used for good in the hands of the right person, such as scientific advancements or teaching, but it can also be used for wrongdoings in the hands of the wrong person, such as catfishing or bullying. Ernest Cline’s novel, Ready Player One, is about a teenage boy named Wade who lives in 2045, in a futuristic society. In 2045, people live in poverty, are unemployed, and live in overcrowded places. In addition, the earth has lost all of its reserves of fossil fuels, which has forced cities into energy shortages. To deal with this their unpleasant situations, everyone spends their time playing in a utopian virtual world, OASIS, created by James Halliday. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One warns society about the negative effects of a technologically dominated society through the minimization of real-life contact, the society’s devaluation of reality, and the denial of society’s true happiness.
In his novel, Cline shows the negative effects of technology through the minimization of human contact. In OASIS, people can become friends with anyone, anywhere in the world. This allows people to be able to fall in love without even setting foot on the same continent. Wade eventually falls in love with one of his virtual friends, Art3mis. While slow dancing with Art3mis, Wade tells her “I’m in love with you, Arty”(Cline 186), to which Art3mis responds by saying “‘You’re like me. You live inside this illusion.’... ‘You can’t possibly know what real love is.’... ‘We’ve never even met!’”(Cline 186). Art3mis doesn’t feel the same way about Wade because she is afraid of being catfished. In OASIS, it is really easy for someone to alter their looks in order to take advantage of someone else because of the minimized human contact. Art3mis doesn’t know who Wade is or what he looks like in real life, and she knows that if he is someone other than the person he is pretending to be, she could get in a lot of trouble. As Wade thinks about the perception of love he realizes “I couldn’t bear the idea that the girl with whom I was virtually smitten might actually be some middle-aged dude named Chuck, with back hair and male-pattern baldness”(Cline 35). Even though Wade lives in a fully virtual world where anyone can be whatever they want to be, Wade cannot stand the idea that Art3mis might be someone other than who he thinks she is. Cline minimizes human interaction in his novel, and by doing so he makes it possible for big problems such as catfishing to arise in his novel. By minimizing human interaction, Cline is introducing ideas such as catfishing, and by doing so, he is showing the downsides of a fully technological world because it minimizes human interaction.
Cline constantly shows how Wade devalues reality through his descriptions of it. At the beginning of the novel, Wade gives the reader some background information about the book. One of his descriptions is that “Things used to be awesome, but now they’re kinda terrifying... Human civilization is in ‘decline.’ Some people even say it’s ‘collapsing.’”(Cline 18). Later in his descriptions, Wade mentions that “If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away… There, inside the game's two-dimensional universe, life was simple”(Cline 19). Instead of doing something about the bad situation that they live in, people use Halliday’s technology as an escape from reality. OASIS gives people the choice of living a life however they want, and since they are comfortable with their virtual world, people stop caring about their real world and its problems. As people become more comfortable with their virtual self they start to care less about their actual selves. In OASIS, Wade describes his avatar as “[having] a slightly smaller nose than me, and he was taller. And thinner. And more muscular. And he didn't have any teenage acne”(Cline 28). Wade’s avatar is designed to be like the way he would want to be, but in reality, he is too fat to fit into his suit. Wade starts working out to get thinner and he gains “a flat stomach, and muscles. I also had twice the energy, and I got sick a lot less frequently”(Cline 197). Although Wade improves his real-life self a lot, what truly motivates him to start working out was that the fact that he couldn’t play in OASIS because he couldn’t fit into his suit. Cline does this to convey to the reader how things like better health are just a side perk to Wade. Cline is warning the reader that being consumed by technology causes one to make decisions with the goal of benefiting their virtual world only. By showing how little society cares about its real self because their technology can better their virtual self with a push of a button, Cline is showing how technology can devalue reality.
Finally, Cline shows how a technologically dominated society can deny society true happiness. Wade spends almost all of his day in OASIS, and sometimes Wade’s mom even “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”(Cline 18). Wade uses OASIS to make the world tolerable for himself and thinks that that is how the creator meant for OASIS to be used, as an escape route to happiness. During his adventures, Wade meets Halliday’s business partner, Odgen Morrow. After being asked why Morrow and Halliday drifted apart, Morrow says, “‘It was because of Kira. My wife.’... ‘Like me, he’d been in love with her since high school. Of course, he never had the courage to act on it. So she never knew how he felt about her. And neither did I’”(Cline 325). Wade starts to realize that James Halliday never achieved the happiness Wade thought OASIS brought because Halliday never got to be with the love of his life. After Wade finds the easter egg, a hologram of Halliday’s real self appears, and Halliday tells him that “‘as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real ...Don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t hide in here forever.’”(Cline 364). Cline utilizes Halliday to make Wade realize that technology isn’t the source of happiness, but instead the fully technological world causes Halliday to be antisocial and therefore stops him from achieving true happiness. By doing so, Cline conveys to the reader that a fully technological world can stop one from achieving true happiness.
Ernest Cline uses his novel, Ready Player One, to warn the reader about the negative effects of a technologically dominated society by informing the reader about problems such as catfishing, by having the main character think of reality as of less value than virtual reality, and by denying the creator of OASIS true happiness. Humans are starting to rely on technological gadgets more and more everyday. The average human spends 28% of their day on the internet, which is a lot considering the average human spends 33% of their day sleeping. With the higher use of technology, humans are on their path to a technologically dominated world similar to one described in the novel Ready Player One.