I’m finally reading Ready Player One, Ernest Cline’s dystopian future sci-fi novel that’s chock full of awesome ’80s culture. It’s a fun read, accurately called a “nerdgasm” by John Scalzi.
Brief synopsis: In 2044, an energy crisis has resulted in widespread economic despair. The OASIS is a virtual reality simulator in which many people escape the depressing world. It functions as an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) and a virtual society. High school student Wade Watts spends his days seated in an old cargo van in a junkyard wearing his VR visor and haptic gloves, attending school inside the OASIS and hunting for OASIS creator James Halliday’s Easter egg. (Full synopsis here.)
“In the OASIS, you could create your own private planet, build a virtual mansion on it, furnish and decorate it however you liked, and invite a few thousand friends over for a party.” p.57
15% through the book, these were my first two thoughts, one somewhat unique to me and the other not at all:
OASIS users sit for hours or days on end. They probably take about 200 steps per day (bathroom breaks).
The OASIS replaces real life interaction like Facebook on steroids, and it’s a scary but fathomable progression.
Plenty of people have written about whether Facebook could become a sort of OASIS. It’s clearly on Zuckerberg’s radar with the acquisition of Oculus Rift in 2014, and the fact that the company hands every new employee a copy of Ready Player One. All covered.
What interests me is whether technology will make our future lifestyles even more sedentary and less interpersonally connected than they are today. In a world that enjoys VR more than IRL, we could really lose our ability to interact in a vulnerable, face-to-face manner. That’s already happening with smartphone addiction (social media and checking behaviors). People are more likely to complain on Facebook about daily offenses by neighbors, fellow drivers, or rude cashiers than to confront one another. But furthermore, in an increasingly virtual future, our bodies could either atrophy (if food becomes scarce) or expand even more (if foodstuff replaces real food and we subsist on cheap sugary cereal and microwave dinners). It’s not a pretty thought.
I like technology. I like the idea of free, globally accessible information. It just worries me that we’ll all be sitting on our asses not talking to each other even more. Instead of being thumbs deep, we’ll be retinas deep.
On the bright side, quite the opposite of Wade attending virtual school from his van, here’s an elementary school in California where students have standing desks. Bloodflow improves cognitive function and learning. Add in some VR use with open source global libraries and submersive educational experiences. Maintain real outdoor recess and give them standing desks – that’s promising.
2016 was a year that everyone (in my echo chamber) was happy to see end. I reflected for a month, and here are six takeaways regarding health, happiness, social life, and apps:
There is usually no Ctrl+Shift+T for life, but you can always open a new tab. Retweet.
(Hasty clicker? This browser hotkey reopens the last closed tab. It’s Ctrl+Shift+T on Windows and Command+Shift+T on Mac OS X. Works in most browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Try Command+Z on Safari.)
Deleting Facebook from my phone made me read more books and go to bed happier. You’ve read the studies, you know Facebook makes you sad. Why are you still spending hours on it? I’m not saying you should quit, and I know there are good reasons to use Facebook. But time is the most valuable thing you have. The ideas and stories you read/see influence your outlook and mood.
Be discerning about what you let in. Add up all the hours you spent in 2016 letting Facebook wash over you with content chosen by its algorithm – not by you. Passive consumption can be dangerous (or at times, relaxing and perfectly okay). Bottom line: your time and attention are precious.
Boxed wine is back/good. Black Box has a tasty Chilean cabernet and it’s an incredible value: you pay about $17 for the box, which contains four bottles. It’s award-winning wine that costs 40% less. It lasts six weeks in the fridge. You reduce your carbon footprint and the spigot harkens back to the jug of Gatorade at childhood soccer games. It’s hydration for adult sports that’s better for the planet and your wallet.
Track your steps and walk around more. I hit the goal of 10,000 steps a day only about twice a week, but tracking it with the Pedometer++ app does make me move around more.
(Health tracking: I don’t do wearables because I don’t want a bluetooth device on my body 24/7. Here’s why. GMOs mess with your wiring; EMFs from tracking devices do the same. This app tracks steps while your phone is in your pocket or purse vs. a watch on your wrist. Those inches make a difference in exposure levels.)
If you love a piece of art, buy it. Surround yourself with beauty. Go buy original art, whether it’s off the street or on Etsy or at a gallery (but don’t pay too much). Don’t buy mass-produced shit (unless you love it).
See old friends whenever you can. Don’t trick yourself into believing that social media is a replacement for truly staying in touch. Make the drive, even if the visit is short. Schedule strategic layovers with enough time to grab lunch with a local friend. Bring a small gift (other than boxed wine). I recommend showing up with 99 cent bubbles on a spring day, like my college friend Shay.
This advice is geared toward your early twenties but is applicable to any stage of life. Whether you’re a recent college grad or a bit older, these tips will save you and make you the most money, based on my experience and calculations as a woman in my latest of twenties.
Imbibing on a budget
They don’t teach these tips in school, but they should.
Set yourself up to be in a better place financially in ten years like so:
1) Buy a used car
Don’t buy a new car and don’t buy a flashy car to seem rich. You want to invest in your appearance for your career? Invest in your clothing. Dress at least one pay grade above where you are now. A sleek wardrobe that fits is a smarter investment than an automobile that spends 95% of its life parked.
Keep your car payment as low as possible (or non-existent). $400-$500 a month will go further invested in stocks you believe in, in industries that you understand, than getting flushed down a motor finance drain. Buy a perfect black suit and a versatile cocktail dress that will pay for themselves, not a luxury car in which to sit alone in traffic. It’s for the birds – who cares about your car? (So millennial, I know.)
2) Keep your rent low
You’re young, you’re renting. Renting is okay. Renting is smarter than owning in many ways. A home is a liability, not an asset. Don’t feel pressured to own. Rent til you know. Enjoy your freedom. You can pick up and move to a new city anytime. You don’t need to mow a lawn or pay property taxes or acquiesce to an HOA.
(Bonus tip: buy a Tile so you can save time and money finding your lost keys or anything else you frequently lose. It’s a GPS tracker connected to an app. I’ve sworn by Tile for years. They make great office gifts, too. It’s $24.99 for 1 or $62.93 for 4 on Amazon.)
While renting, bargain with your landlord.
2a) How to lower your rent
A) Offer to post reviews in exchange for reduced rent or at least two years of controlled rent.
B) Offer to pay three or six months rent in advance for a discounted rate or 1-2 months free.
C) If you’re in marketing, offer to do some social media promotion for your residence in exchange for reduced rent. Don’t use your personal brand for this – spell out a contract defining the promotion.
2b) Another renting tip: document
Whenever an issue arises, politely document the hell out of it via email, and make sure they know that you have kept track. Don’t be a nuisance or threaten anyone, and be lavish in your praise for what these apartment managers do right. But whenever you do email about a recurring issue, simply point out that you have documentation of the same thing having happened before, listing the dates and/or attaching the details as a PDF or email attachments. Maybe you have no issues with your landlord, property manager, or neighbors – consider yourself lucky. Keep renting until buying truly makes sense for you, your career, and your goals.
3) The Budget Keeper
This one is a little controversial 🙂
Don’t do this on a first date.
Do be discreet.
When you go out, pack a hip flask. Some people will judge you and think you’re cheap. You’re not, and who cares what they think? You’re young, trying to save money, and you just cut your bar tab in half. Bars mark up liquor an average of 300-400%. Restaurant owners are the only employers who don’t pay their staff living wages and expect customers to foot the bill. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a little sauce to top off your drink, considering how expensive going out can be. Especially if you have a high tolerance.
Think of this as a backup plan / accessory. This tip allows you to control your spending without ending the night early. You’re busy being fabulous, maybe networking a bit, you go-getter! You may even make some new friends or impress old men who retired from the railroad.
Do buy something.
Don’t stiff the bartender.
Don’t get drunk.
Credit for the Budget Keeper goes to RickM. It’s not only a money-saver; it’s a throwback to a better time.
Let me know if you find these tips helpful. I’ll post more soon, hopefully in video format.