The world is changing. Where sights, smells and tactile interaction once ruled, a new, less physical, domain now reigns supreme.
Over the last 15 years, the internet has gradually increased its grip on Western societies and for those plugged into the matrix there’s been a noticeable shift from reality to virtual reality. Almost every aspect of our lives can now be controlled, enhanced and even monitored by some digital software and an internet connection. In fact, with smartphones now possessing almost as much power as laptops, there’s rarely a point in our lives when we’re not hooked up to the web.
Is this a bad thing? Certainly not. However, there are some unintended consequences of this virtual revolution. A news story hit the headlines recently and brought to the fore the effects of living in a digital world.
Virtual Disaster for Live Experiences
According to reports, one of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas, the Riviera, has closed down after 60 years of service. Attributing its closure to a recent downturn in revenue, brought about in part by the growth of online casinos, the property’s place on the famous strip will now stand as a testament to the internet’s impact on the real world.
Again, is it a bad thing that the Riviera closed down? In some respects, yes. However, in other ways it isn’t. Online gaming is a much safer way to gamble thanks to a range of sophisticated security programmes. Moreover, novice players are more likely to gamble at a casino online because it’s easier and less intimidating than a live venue.
However, some would argue that the virtual arena doesn’t hold the same magic as bricks-and-mortar venues, even if the casino online contains live dealer games. The sounds of riffling casino chips, the feel of crisp bank notes and the smell of an authentic casino can’t be replicated online. In fact it’s this point that’s the most disconcerting, especially for a nomadic traveller.
The ability to sample new cultures, feel new sensations and taste new flavours is only possible in the real world. Although the internet is great for giving users a wealth of information, entertainment and ways to experience new things, it can’t replace the feel of something in the real world. Indeed, think about the myriad of book shops that have gone out of business or switched to digital downloads over the past five years.
No Sights, Sounds and Sensations
Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon Under CC license
Borders, one of the largest book retailers in the world, has suffered massively since the advent of eBooks. Although limping on in some form, the company doesn’t sell anywhere near the volume of books it once did.
However, if you ask any book fan, even those who download hundreds of books each year, what their preference is, they’ll opt for the real thing. Although the words are the same, the look and feel of a book has a certain reverence that a digital product doesn’t and it’s this distinction that means travel will never die.
There’s no doubt that the internet has made it fantastically easy for people to gain some sense of what a different culture is like without them having to leave their home. However, even with all the creature comforts in the world around them, there’s no denying that a “virtual traveller” will always feel somewhat unfulfilled by an online journey.
Does this mean the cultural shift we’re experiencing is bad? Not at all. However, to make the most of the world it’s necessary to step outside and sample what it has to offer. In fact, to really make the most of the society around you, moreover the parts of the world you’ve not yet seen, you should fuse the online and offline realms into one seamless strategy.
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