A Good Walk SpoiledI was run into by a roving cell phone pedestrian this morning. He was apparently rushing to take care of something too important to delay another moment - Iraq disarmament negotiations perhaps. As he ran headlong into me, he merely careened off and kept walking, sparing just enough energy to give me a sideways glance that showed who he thought was at fault for the collision. It's bad enough that people yammer on cell phones when they drive, but now they've taken to wearing those small, Bluetooth headsets and yammering while they're walking. They're called "hands free" phones, but if you ask me, they're "brain free" phones.
It's true that the average American must cope with huge amounts of information, but do we really need to become radio-controlled drones maneuvering to a faceless voice played at high volume into our ears? Is it not enough that computers, television, radio, GPS, and all sorts of other technology control our every waking moment. Mark Twain once said, "Golf is a good walked spoiled." Now it's a case of, "A walk is a good walk spoiled."
Humankind has certainly invented millions of useful devices that make life easier, safer, or healthier. We've invented many more that are dubious, stupid, and banes to the entire species. Perhaps the Luddites were right. Smash all the machines now before they take over - exhibit A, the "Brain Free" phones. We invented pretty much everything that was truly a necessity centuries ago, despite what we modern society citizens think. Look at it this way. If Iran eventually lobs a few nukes and World War (fill in the blank) breaks out, who'll be more prepared to deal with the nuclear winter - a Kahlihari tribesman well-versed in surviving on nearly nothing or a Manhattanite who's never walked more than four blocks and who would insisted on taking their GODDAMN CELL PHONES with them on the trek to safety?
I'm betting on the tribesman, who I will immediately befriend so that I can learn his oh-so-wise ways.
Because humans are so inventive, we've also become inventive about why we need all these toys. And one of the inventive excuses is that we need the devices to be "efficient". The problem is, it's other devices that require new devices to stay inventive.
Humankind did quite well for centuries just using what they had at hand. Cave paintings gave way to stone tablets which gage way to paper and pencils. The lowly pencils morphed into typewriters that eventually begat computers. Those computers can now operate without any human involvement, even if they do mostly just talk to other computers. Can the next step after the Bluetooth headset be far behind? Perhaps we'll be born only as unattached brains to which computers will stick electrodes so we can converse with other brains, and of course, other computers.
There's some efficiency for you! We even cut out breathing!
So the next time you see one of those radio-controlled drones, stop and confront them. Reach up and yank that deadly bug from their ear. Squash it underfoot. Pull out a simple piece of paper and a pencil and hand it to them as you walk away on your "walk that is still a good walk".
We'll all - including the drone when he gets over the shock - be glad you did.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, August 23, 2006