Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead

Abandoned phoneRecently, I went to a movie with my wife and noticed a strange thing. It started with the fidgety guy to my right and fanned out like Wildfire Tommy Rich (obscure wrestling reference) from there. It was almost as if the guy unwittingly pulled the pin on an attention deficit grenade, sucking a large portion of the theatre into his sick folly. I’m talking, of course, about public texting. Now, you’re getting this commentary from me, so take it with a grain of salt. I don’t exactly pride myself on staying connected 24/7. Or even 8/5. I don’t facebook or tweet or tout or pin or even really text much anymore, unless I’m asking for directions to come see you, which is unlikely, since we just moved into a house so remote, there’s no mail or trash service. I don’t even subscribe to home internet. Don’t worry, I’m not going all Unabomber on your asses… yet. We burn our refuse and FedEx can locate you anywhere, so long as you’ve got an address, which we do. My book publisher’s literally the only person who has it and I think we’re keeping it that way. Sure, I deliver this column by way of the ‘net, but I use an iPhone, even if it mostly stays in a drawer. Don’t miss it at all.

But, I digress. While the Age of Information has given us some convenient little whatchamacallits, if you’re like me and can remember a time when people sat down to dinner and actually looked each other in the eye, sharing meaningful discourse without some annoying, pinging R2D2 device laid out on the table next to the silverware, you also know there’s not much the techies have infected us with that can’t be cured by a hammer or a good old fashioned .45. Hell, I smashed a spare iPhone in the driveway, just to watch it die. It felt good, I suggest you try it sometime.

In the last few years alone, we’ve graduated from a computer on the desktop to a computer in the backpack to a computer in the pocket to a computer in the eyeglasses, and if you’re paying attention (a lost art, I know), then you know a computer chip in the brain is on deck next. I dunno about you, but that’s not what I signed up for. So, back to the tool in the movie theatre that got me thinking about all this. We were seeing The World’s End, which contains rather pointed commentary on this topic, which I found amusing. Johnny ADD undoubtedly missed that little nuance, as he exercised deft hand/eye coordination to rapid-fire text right through the movie’s conclusion, along with a smattering of other little glowing screens around the room. Hey, it’s their $10. I’m sure Simon Pegg appreciated it, whether they took anything away from the experience or not. And just forget about discussing the abstract narrative stylings of Nicolas Winding Refn’s great film, Only God Forgives, with many moviegoers out there. People’s brains don’t seem to work that way anymore. With text and social media messages assaulting the senses and a world of non-stop news and information (accurate or not) at our fingertips, basic manners and mental comprehension seem to be the collateral damage most people are willing to kiss goodbye, in favor of staying ‘connected’.

Sadly, virtual reality clouding real experience has become the new norm, but how many gadget-toting people out there realise it? Or maybe the more pertinent question is, how many even care?

BC FURTNEY [is not online.]

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  1. Jasper Bark

    Whole heartedly agree with your views on modern communication, its simulation of ADD, it’s impact on modern etiquette and its imminent path to cerebral technological implants BC. You had me from the title of this month’s column, witty and well informed, great work.

  2. BC Furtney

    Thanks, Jasper. Glad you liked. The irony of my punching up this reply is not lost, but Mike enjoys summoning me from my bunker for words.

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