What is the relationship between life and information in the novel "Player One" by Douglas Coupland?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Player One or Player One: What Is To Become of Us, Douglas Copeland explores the lives of four main characters, all with mounting problems and who co-incidentally find themselves together in an airport lounge as, outside, the world spirals out of control.

All the characters are looking to improve their lives but instead of starting with themselves, they look elsewhere in the hope that answers lie somewhere externally. It becomes obvious that it is a lack of any real communication between people and a need to find meaning in their existences, which has, not only brought them all here, but which, on a more universal scale, has created the desperate world outside as people "become resigned to (their) fate."

Player One tells the same story but from a different perspective. He is able to see life's occurrences in a simplified manner

The first chapter is entitled, "Hour One, Cue the Flaming Zeppelin" and gives a sense of urgency and impending doom to the text. Information and the information society has stripped the characters in Player One of any real ability to communicate. They do not seem capable of meaningful conversation and a commitment to themselves. Karen has flown into Toronto, having set herself up with a date online. Things will not go well as the man will not meet her expectations. She is governed by stereotypes and the fact that lonely women do not attract men but lonely men, hypothetically paging through books on loneliness, would have women "hitting on" them.   

When explosions start outside, Karen, Rick, Luke and Rachel are anxious to understand what is happening but are unable to rely on the airport's source of information due to power outages. Thrown randomly together in this moment of confusion, they listen to the radio in Rick's car but return to the airport lounge and barricade themselves in when it becomes clear that something is seriously wrong.    

The irony that Leslie Freemont's son is the sniper serves as a warning that all is not as it seems and that solutions exist within. Freemont has inspired Rick, a recovering alcoholic, divorced father, struggling to make some money by working as a bartender so that he can enrol on Freemont's self-help course. He craves what he thinks he needs - information from an outside source, from someone who knows (but who apparently does not know his son), whereas he would have been better served, exploring his own life and looking for answers himself. 

Rachel cannot form emotional attachments. She is a product of the information society - labeled due to her challenges, including autism, and unable to escape or rise above society's expectations of her. She wants a baby and wonders if Luke may be able to help her by fathering her child - without the need for real intimacy or any expectations of Luke.  

Luke, however, is a disgraced pastor with a new take on The Seven Deadly Sins. He has recognized the shallow existences of people and blames their "willingness to tolerate information overload," as one of the problems facing society. Society has reclassified all the unimportant pass-times such as shopping and the "reality" of celebrities and these, he contends, have contributed to the problems facing humanity.  

It is only when they are thrown together and can find a common need for fellowship that they can start exploring the issues that have stunted their personal development."At fifty-five, your story's pretty much over," need not define a person.  Life is not simply a series of events. 

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