Google+ Followers

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Undivided Attention; or, Hang on I Just Need to Send This Text...uh...yep...Okay. I'm Good.

     It is the latest phenomenon to strike the human race: connectivity. And it is doing for us today (if you adjust for inflation) what written language, the printing press, the coffee house, the newspaper, the mail system, the telegram, the telephone, and radio have done for us in the past. It reduces the time lapsing between queries for information.
     I know what my son is doing nearly thirty miles away, because of constant updates--text messages, phone calls, pictures. And all of it goes from a phone in one pocket to a phone in my pocket.
     A little reflection is good for anyone's day; I just want you to stop and think about what I just wrote. In 2013 I can have a picture sent to my phone. In 2003 a camera was not yet standard on a cellular phone; Android was still in the works. In 1993 we could barely make a phone call on a cellular phone; pay phones were on every corner. In 1983 computers were still getting used to the idea of using something other than command line; Atari just came out. In 1973 no one had heard of AIDS, and had no means of looking it up, unless they found a library with a national science journal from THE FUTURE! 
     It took a decade to make the computer accessible to the average Joe when the Smart Phone Android and iPhone took about 10 minutes. In just the past ten years we've seen touch screens become so standard, their BS children toys! Important people use Twitter when once it was implored by the likes of the New York and London Times to ignore it, for it is a silly thing that will fast pass.
     That is how fast and crazy our world is. We have--never in all human history--been as advanced as we are today. Not that we know of anyway. Yet, when you look at what we do with all of this new stuff, it is kind of saddening. They put a man on the moon with the equivalent of my high school calculator, and I need my Windows Vista 64bit computer to do addition and subtraction--I haven't seen a single lunar landing that isn't somehow tied to Angry Birds. 
      Sure this new world of uber tech and connectivity has had its out of the park homers: Libya, Tunisia, and now (maybe) Syria; the Kilpatrick sex scandal; Wikileaks...But these social revolutions and "we gotcha!" have been swept under by the waves upon waves of useless facebook posts, twitter messages, instagrams, and piles and piles of redundant porn.
     And most importantly, we have forgotten how to pay attention. I wonder who got to this line. After all, statistically speaking, if it isn't 100 words or less, no one will read. Prove me wrong world. Prove me wrong.
***
     There was a date I had  many years ago. Over all, it was a forgettable affair. We had little to nothing to talk about, and, truthfully, neither of us really knew how to hold down a conversation like adults. We were just 18 and 17 or something like that. I don't blame her for that. I don't even blame myself. But what I will hold against any human being is that darn phone sitting at the center of the table, as though it is some kind of fashionable conversation piece.
     "O, is that the new blackberry?"
     "Why, yes, it is. It really is one of a kind."

     "Is that so?"
     "Of course not. It's just like another 100 million phones sitting in the pockets of on the go businessmen and women and truck drivers and kids and drug dealers and door to door salespeople."
     Worse yet, not only is it unoriginal and uninspiring, it is my competition. Can I out wit and out charm the next text or phone call she gets from her friends? The answer is, "No," and--honestly--how could you? It's like being that guy who is really good at of the cuff humor, but the moment your put on the spot because everyone is expecting you to say something hilarious, nothing comes out.
     Maybe it's just a myth--this full and undivided attention--that our parents made up when they hearken back to the gold age, when men were men, women were women, blah blah blah. After all, they had TV and radio and a growing social dissent from the Korean War and later Vietnam.
     A grand fantasy, yes, but a fantasy nonetheless. And, once long ago, I did experience it. Or, I was able to feel as though I did. But that is for another day.
     That is all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table with his old Olympia SM-9 and a bottle of Oarsmen Ale.

     P.S. Did you notice how the first Mac ad was made to be view in print--vertical, like a magazine page--and this last one is made to fit on a widescreen computer?