The Very Good and the Less Good

It seems incongruous to speak about the advantages and disadvantages of the digital lifestyle. The advantages are obvious: convenience, less strenuous work, longer life and others. The disadvantages are also apparently obvious: too much convenience, not enough hard work, degenerative disease and others.

So, in actual fact, the advantages and disadvantages of the digital lifestyle also seem to balance each other out!

Gaming

Our ancestors, and not the ancestors from millennia ago, our ancestors from less than 200 years ago, never had to decide which games to play, whether to play at a real Vegas casino or at an online Vegas casino.

All societies have had games. Go and chess are at least 1000 years old. But at one time, the only people who could play games were the wealthy and the nobility. Today, we have so much free time on our hands that gaming is a category of activity along with working, cooking, child rearing and all the rest that took all our ancestors’ time.

Scientists are finding that gaming is a vital aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Brain games are needed for a healthy brain; they provide actual brain exercise. Gaming is also a social activity. In the past, social activity was limited to a narrow range of people primarily family members and neighbors.

Today, our digital connections are worldwide. We can play chess or poker with people thousands of miles away. Unfortunately, our digital lifestyle also makes it easier for us to play games alone. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We play games like Sudoku alone and exercise our brains.

The challenge of the digital age is to find the proper balance between playing alone and playing with others. The online gaming explosion is less than twenty years old. It has gone through a few stages in that short period of time. In the beginning, online casino gaming was seen as a great alternative to travelling to a casino. Years later, as mobile technology had improved to a great degree, mobile casino gaming overtook desktop gaming.

Today, the big trend in online casino gaming is Live Casino gaming where players can interact with not only the dealer but also with other players. Live Casino gaming is at once a reflection of the disadvantage of the digital age—where we spend too much time alone and crave contact with others—and the advantage of the digital age in that it is technology that has been enlisted to help solve the problem.

Another good solution to the problem of isolation in a vast urban landscape is simply to join social clubs, have parties, invite people to your home, and even travel to a casino. At a land based casino, you can have a lot of fun for very little money by playing roulette or craps. These games generate camaraderie among strangers. You’ll yell for your bet to come up along with all the others.

Privacy

Having spoken about the advantage of gaming as a part of the digital lifestyle, let’s look in the other direction, at the one biggest disadvantage of modern technology.

Before the modern age, all technological improvements were time and labor saving improvements. Cars stretched the available world from a few miles to hundreds of miles. Airplanes stretch the available world into thousands of miles. Indoor running water eliminated the daily trips to the town well.

Our modern digital conveniences have reduced our privacy to an alarming degree. Even recently we were amazed that our server would send advertisements to us based on what we had just researched online. Then we were even more amazed that we were getting ads for things we had talked about but had not researched.

We now know that our digital machines are listening to us. The camera in the computer or smartphone may be watching us. There have been recent revelations that have bothered most people but few are talking about the massive amount of tracking that is still below the surface. The barcode on the products we buy has more than price on it. The store, the manufacturer, and possibly the tax collector are all tracking us through the barcode and the magnetic strip on our credit cards.

Jobs

Here is a convergence of both advantages and disadvantages of computerization. The new jobs created in the world were to a very large degree jobs born of the computer age. The loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States was seen in some circles as a good thing: Americans would do the new jobs and poor people in other countries would do the difficult and boring factory jobs.

But all those people doing the new computer oriented jobs had a lot of time on their hands. They wanted to play and eat, so places like Las Vegas and fast food restaurants boomed. These enterprises also created a lot of jobs.

But the digital age does not stop. The low level jobs created by the digital age are quickly being replaced by robots, the new wave of digital “worker”. The push to a $15 minimum hourly wage has resulted in a $0 hourly wage for all those fast food workers replaced by consoles that can also take your order. A robot was recently tested that can make a lot of hamburgers each hour.

Many casino workers in Las Vegas—cooks and other kitchen workers, bartenders, and housekeepers—are about to go on strike because they fear for their jobs. Robots and automation are coming to Las Vegas, too.

The Future

We will never leave the digital age unless a new invention that replaces digital technology is invented, there is a pandemic so severe that there no longer are enough people to maintain the digital age, or there is an electro-magnetic pulse that knocks out digital technology for a very long time.

In other words, the digital age is here to stay with all of its advantages and disadvantages. We should all work to maximize the best that digital technology has to offer and to minimize the downside.

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