Saturday, February 27, 2010

Posthumous

I predicted all this stuff yrs ago, in weak & undramatic science-fiction short-stories I couldn't sell 2 NE1.
MayB I wasn't convincing enuf. Or mayB no1 could Blieve that w/ all the wonders we had heading R way in the optimistic not-2-distant future, people could still B counted upon 2 make the absolute worst of it.
What I never predicted was that the technology was gonna come after me, 2....
In the morning while I try 2 wake up I switch on the computer, waking up slowly while I drink a potta coffee & try 2 figure out if I wanna B alive 2day or not. Sometimes I'll call-up CNN 2 C what new outrage occurred overnite. But usually I just use the laptop 2 regress in2 fantasy. Music, books, other people's writing & opinions -- something non-threatening. The Internet's great 4 fantasy or escape -- there's lotsa games & chatrooms & e-mail & blogs, lotsa chances 2 talk 2 people U're never really gonna meet, so they'll never havta B disappointed by U. Not in Reality, NEway.
When that gets boring, I've got CDs or the iPod, the same 200 familiar songs over & over. It's very comforting. & now & then if something gets boring I drop it & add something else. No chance of the unXpected ever happening & catching me off-guard.
Earphones plugged in, iPod attached 2 my belt, in 1 hand I've got the cellphone & I can call or text or keep up w/ CNN if I want, or check gas prices, or check directions 2 wherever I'm going -- not that I'm actually GOING NEwhere. I adopted Karl Malden's 1st Rule Of Travel a long time ago: Don't Leave Home.
I go 2 work, & bash on a computer 4 hrs. Sometimes I get phonecalls, more disembodied voices. Very seldom do I havta deal w/ Real People & their Dmands, thank Ghod. Mostly nobody bugs me, & I'm grateful. Just like the very few other people I interact w/ every day, when I go out in2 Reality I put on my Game Face -- all the walls go up & I am unreachable, unmoveable, unhurtable. Pretty comfterble in my isolation.
In the car I can plug-in the iPod, or I've got CDs. Who needs the radio? Ancient technology. The last thing I want is some1 else's tastes 4ced on me. Or commercials telling me what I SHOULD want, what I SHOULD need. I know what I want. I know what's best 4 me. When I'm out in Reality, mostly what I want is 2 B left alone.
2 make me even more portable & unattached 2 wires or accessories I've got the bluetooth phone, the works in my ear, so I can go NEwhere & talk if I have 2. MayB people think I'm talking 2 myself as I wander around a store or a park or a parking lot, sometimes loudly talking 2 whoever's at the other Nd. I don't care what they think.
But the truth is that in my unguarded moments I sometimes C other folks Cmingly talking 2 THEMselves as they wander around, sometimes raving in2 the air -- & I wonder if NEbody's listening. In their own little world, completely distracted, waving their arms around. I've Cn them walk out in fronta cars they didn't even realize were there -- never realized even after the car honked at them. Sevral times.
I C people wander thru stores w/ their bluetooths or earphones on, the phone or the iPod humming away, & sometimes they never say a word 2 NE1 -- they're like Stepford People or Pod People. 2 quiet. At lotsa stores now U can do a self-checkout: Scan yr groceries or whatever, slide yr card, bag up yr stuff & U're outta there in 30 secs & U never even hadta Xchange meaningless pleasantries w/ some cashier who probly wishes she was somewhere else doing something else, NEthing else. She's got her Game Face on 2, just trying 2 Get Thru It.
But when U look around at some other folks these days, I'd rather have the quiet 1's. At the other Nd of the spectrum, there sure are a LOTTA folks drinking a LOT of NRG drinks or NRG shots or various kinds of coffees or sodas, all hyped-up, in a REALLY big hurry. 2 go nowhere. 2 do nothing. & they're awfully loud & awfully anxious & awfully busy 4 people w/ nothing 2 do.
U C them on Fri's & Sat's, frantic 2 find a party 2 go 2. The traffic backs up 4 miles on the way 2 the stores & malls, people just released 4 their wknd, screaming 2 get 2 the stores, then we can mark that off R list & get on2 the next thing. Whatever that is.
All things considered, I'd rather have the quiet 1's. They don't interrupt me, they don't throw chaos in2 my quiet life, they don't get me thinking about what it all means. & during these long gray cold winters, I don't want 2 think at all. I want 2 disconnect. & it Cms like every1 else wants 2, 2.
In the words of '70s rock critic Lester Bangs, we have Bcome post-human, mimicking the things we worship. We would all like 2 run as smoothly & quietly & purposefully as the technology that surrounds us & that we've Bcome part of. But Real Life isn't always that smooth. & technology doesn't always work that perfectly.
Ever C how people react when the equipment doesn't work right or there's a glitch in the system, even 4 just a few secs? They get SO frustrated, as if: The technology's here, it's supposed 2 work absolutely FLAWLESSLY, 100 percent of the time.
I 1nce saw an apparently overly-busy & rudely preoccupied young woman SCREAM at a cashier at a gas station when she actually had 2 spend 10 secs walking from her car in2 the store 2 get a receipt 4 the gas she'd just bot. She was FURIOUS. She told the cashier: "You don't understand -- I don't WANT 2 have 2 deal w/ people. I don't LIKE having 2 deal w/ people."
I guess she'll never get those 10 seconds back. Or the 90 seconds she spent yelling.... But if she keeps going on like that, sooner or later she'll never havta deal w/ The Real World or real people again. Bcos nobody will talk 2 her.
More & more, I think this self-consciously busy young woman is speaking 4 all of us. More & more folks prefer not 2 deal w/ people. It's not worth the trouble. No frustration, no pain, no hurt, no miscommunication. & really, what have U lost? Remember the line from the Harvard Lampoon's old "Deteriorata": "Take comfort in knowing that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet."
Better 2 meet & chat on-line rather than take the risk of actually meeting some1 in Reality & mayB not liking them, or having them not like U (& what the hell's WRONG w/ U?), or possibly get yr feelings hurt. Way safer 2 deal w/ all Reality from the privacy of yr own little room, where U can mayB let down yr guard & B yrself safely Bhind yr own locked door. & mayB that's the only place. Reality can B pretty F'in frightening sometimes. Back 2 The Dungeon. It's better this way, really.
I'd like 2 think people R cutting themselves off from something important by trying so hard 2 avoid personal contact all the time. But I understand the need 2 escape....
So, pretty modern & slick & flashy & fast-paced, isn't it, Bing post-human? Also kinda cold & distant. Uncaring. I think people can still connect Dspite the technology. Seems like it. Hope so.
Otherwise the next word 2 B used 2 Dscribe all us slick, flashy, fast-paced, high-tech post-humans will B "posthumous."

3 comments:

rastronomicals said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rastronomicals said...

Interesting post. A detached tone for a post about detached people, it seems.

I'm not sure whether you're talking about yourself or not in the early going.

The piece flashes back and forth between things that sound like the conception of you I have taken from your writing

   "But usually I just use the laptop 2 regress in2 fantasy. Music, books, other people's writing & opinions -- something non-threatening"

and things that don't

   "When that gets boring, I've got CDs or the iPod, the same 200 familiar songs over & over. It's very comforting. & now & then if something gets boring I drop it & add something else. No chance of the unXpected ever happening & catching me off-guard."

I don't think of you as an iPod guy, and I definitely don't think of you as a same 200 songs kind of guy. . . .

I work counter sales at a small industrial equipment house. We've got a lobby maybe twice the size of your bathroom. What bugs me beyond explanation is how the Eternally Connected will walk into our tiny office and our tiny lobby blithely jabbering away on their cellphone--and sometimes stand there in the lobby for ten minutes or more before they finally hang up.

I'm expected to jump on the counter, so those are ten minutes where I'm in a kind of holding pattern. I have a customer but he doesn't want to talk to me. Can't walk away, can't get started, probably shouldn't pick up the phone if it rings. Christ.

And of course everyone else in the room, the boss, the Sales Manager, the warehouse guy if he's not in the back, all are forced to listen to this guy's running colloquy with whomever.

I'm like, put down the phone, and let's do some fucking business, already!

Although I personally think that I have no need whatsoever for a cell phone, I understand that a field salesman or territory rep would find theirs indispensable. It's only when people use them to avoid dealing with me under circumstances which kind of require it that I take issue.

Sometimes I think of a future in which that cellphone brain cancer paranoia has come true. People start dropping like flies, and because I never used a cell, I'm one of the few who survive, one of the few new Omega Men, wandering the deserted shopping malls and the deserted highways and the deserted supermarkets, alive only because of my cantankerous refusal to adopt the omnipresent technology. . . . .

tad said...

R: Thank U 4 commenting. This post started out as total fiction, just some observations on stuff I've Cn, pushed a little bit farther -- but more of me slipped-in than I really planned.
I don't own an iPod, I don't hava Bluetooth phone. I have the world's smallest & cheapest laptop, & the only reason I hava cellphone -- also the world's cheapest -- is Bcos my roommate bot it 4 me in case he ever hadta get hold of me 2 bail him outta jail! I thot I was the last guy in the world 2 get a cellphone....
I'm really a pretty low-tech, simple guy. Tho I'm amazed how much I've come 2 Dpend on this computer -- if I couldn't babble here I don't know how I'd get thru the days -- I think it's the only piece of current technology that I'm hooked on, mainly Bcos of this blog & other sites like yrs that I visit almost daily. I hardly ever even turn my cellphone on....
Some people's "avoidance" thing makes me crazy. At work, on my bad days, I hate Bing ignored, interrupted, treated like a piece of equipment. (On my good days, NOTHING bothers me.) I wanna tell people I'M A PERSON DAMMIT -- & not get rushed or treated like shit. But almost everybody's in a hurry & lotsa people R rude -- & they think it's NORMAL. I know there R people who come in2 the store just 2 mess w/ me, they've told me so. & I usually oblige them.
I understand the need 2 escape. But I WANT 2 connect, I WANT 2 talk, I don't want 2 avoid. That's partly why I do this. I don't want 2 feel like I already died. I want 2 feel MORE ALIVE. I think everybody does.
I don't blame the technology -- I wouldn't B able 2 talk/connect like this w/o it. I blame the Totally Connected folks who use it as an avoidance mechanism, or as a way 2 keep the pace movin fast. MayB mosta them I wouldn't ever wanna know NEway. MayB I don't even like people all that much. Not in mass #'s NEhow.
But if ya gotta block-out the reality happening around U & the only place U can B yrself is at home Bhind yr own locked door, what's society 4? ... I wish things were happier, more positive, more supportive, more human. Things don't always havta B so dark & grim all the time....
This still sounds pretty grim. Sorry. Wouldn't my life B simpler if I retired & wrote novels 4 a living instead?
...The sun is out 2day (finally) & I hope Spring is here. & I'll B taking my 1st real vacation in 6 yrs in June. I'd like some time 2 chill-out & not think, escape 4 awhile.
Thanx 4 reading, & I'll try 2 B more positive now that I've got10 summa this crap out.... -- TAD.