Online Equivalents: Life Through a Mouse and Keyboard
Ready Player One was a box-office success this year and the film brings to light a conception of the future worth contemplating. In Ready Player One, people mostly live their lives online, in a virtual reality called “the Oasis”. This begs the question: is that what we’re headed towards? Here are four online equivalents to “real world” systems.
At the turn of the 20th century, John Elfreth Watkins Jr. wrote an article entitled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.” He predicted a pre-internet version of online shopping: people sending and receiving orders via a series of pneumatic tubes. While not identical, it is remarkably similar to the contemporary online shopping world, where the click of a button brings an order straight to your door. Websites like Amazon have made a name for themselves in the public consciousness. Meanwhile, sites like Ebay present a virtual correspondent to a flea market.
Source: Ebay via Facebook
Before the World Wide Web, finding a partner meant scouting bars or meeting friends’ single acquaintances. Nowadays, there are thousands of online dating websites, for both the serious and the casual dater. There is variety and specificity; dating sites exist for specific ages, religions, sexual orientations.
Source: eHarmony via Facebook
Apps like Tinder and Grindr turn online dating mobile. These are convenient for both quick flings, and serious relationships. Starting things is as easy as sending a text, and ending them is as easy as not responding.
Aside from the plethora of online video games on platforms like Steam or Battlenet, there are also digital versions of beloved board games. Scrabble becomes Words with Friends; Trivial Pursuit becomes Trivia Crack, playable with any friend or stranger across the world at any time. Online arcades provide platforms for fun minigames from the comfort of a player’s home.
Furthermore, classic arcade games, like Pacman, Galaga, and Space Invaders, have been coded into web versions, for the nostalgic gamer. Online casinos (really, the 18+ version of arcades) have also translated beloved games for a computer screen. roulette, blackjack and slots are all available at the click of a button, while live casino has brought the dealer or croupier allow casino-goers to virtually interact with their dealer.
How could anyone explore online equivalents without mentioning the cryptocurrency at the top of everyone’s newsfeed? Bitcoin is a digital currency created in 2009 that can be used to buy and trade with companies that accept it. As wholly new waters, the general populous is approaching Bitcoin tentatively, watching as the decentralized cryptocurrency soars in value. Over the years, Bitcoin has become more and more operational. Microsoft, Expedia, and, after recent legislation, retailers in Japan, all accept the digital currency as a form of payment.
As the world moves further into the digital age, we find more and more online alternatives. Taking steps towards the technological means more variety in terms of communication and more communities that fit specific niches. While not quite the fully-virtual “Oasis”, the online world constantly has new things to offer and shows no signs of slowing down.