The meaning of "playing Rip Van Winkle"

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Senior Member
South Korea, Han-gul
Today is considered—by some—the anniversary of the day the term cyberspace first saw print. Cyberspace, for those who have been playing Rip Van Winkle for 25 years, names "the online world of computer networks;" it refers especially to the Internet. As you might assume, cyberspace was coined by pairing the combining form cyber that means "computer; computer network" with the word space.

In the above sentence can you tell the meaning of "playing Rip Van Winkle"?
I know the man "Rip Van Winkle," who spend 20 years in one sleep, but "playing Rip Van Winkle" doesn't make any meaning to me.
Help me.
  • It means that you have been asleep continuously for the last 25 years, just like a modern Rip Van Winkle.

    Think of it as similar to an actor who plays the role of a king or a space alien or a gangster in a movie.


    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    It's similar to the phrase "hiding out in a cave" or "hiding under a rock." For some reason, you have been out of touch with the world.

    In the case of "playing Rip Van Winkle," you don't know what's going on because you've been asleep, in this case for 25 years.

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    It does not mean literally asleep. It accounts for the conception of a generation gap. My generation considers rock and roll music as nothing but noise. When you take that conception together with the notion that a concert is someting played by the Minnesota Orchestra or New York Philharmonic, you have a perfect example of the Rip Van Winkle effect. By the way, the effect applies to many more sides of life than music.
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