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Customisable Isolation

October 2, 2010

Technology is wonderful thing. It has changed our lives in fantastically commercial ways. Today we own the latest mobile phones, MP3 players, home theatre systems, gaming consoles, lap-tops and the latest shows fast tracked direct from the US to give us unprecedented freedom and the ability to customise reality to our own specific desires.

All this technology, all this customisation, has it really set us free or has it further entrapped us in an increasing reliance on commercialisation to fill the void of loneliness and isolation that it brings with it? Why is it that with each leap forward in technology, we take an equivalent step away from each other as people?

Ten years ago, when I watched late night television regularly, the commercials were still standard level with an occasional sex line add thrown in. Today if you happen to do some late night viewing, it is dominated by scam dating services, sex lines and a whole bunch of funded adds about depression and mental health services. Television seems to me, to be showing the signs of our deteriorating life styles and fragmenting mentality. Mental health services on television are now telling us to talk to each other, or someone, even if its your doctor. They keep repeating the mantra, “you’re not alone,” because we seem to have forgotten that we are.

But it’s okay because that new show which will make you forget all about that black void your soul has been wallowing in has been fast tracked from the U.S! Calm down, calm down, it will be here in less than two weeks, followed by the latest “reality” singing, dancing dating monkey in a suit show. Dance monkey dance, so I can ring this number and vote for you! We feel like we’re part of the show, because we can phone an automated number and press a button! Look at the monkey I voted for as it claps! Oh, watch that magnificent creature clap as I clap too! It doesn’t matter that I had to pay for that brief contact with a machine, my voice was finally heard, I have regained some control over my life! I am an “empowered” person who isn’t merely watching TV, but “interacting” with it. Big Brother has much more than rampant stupidity to answer for.

Have you got a mobile phone? I grew up in a world without mobile phones. They still existed in ungodly bulky forms, but only once I finished High School they became popular and truly mobile in essence. Suddenly everyone had to have one. Are we so facetious, so filled with an over-bloated sense of self-importance that we must constantly be contactable and within reach. I often ask myself, what is so important that we need to tell each other, tell our friends, our family right now?
“Oh hi! Yeah, I was just at the supermarket and thought I’d give you a call! I know, I haven’t seen you in ages either! Yeah, just buying some groceries for the kids. Oh, grapes are on special, look at that. Yeah okay, talk to you later!” We don’t need to catch up in person, we don’t need to sit down and have a coffee and enjoy the sight of each other. Now, a disembodied voice can accompany us anywhere to make us feel less disconnected for each other.

E-mail has taken this disembodied voice and silenced it. Now, we can recount our days, our lives and sum it up into our out-box, a neat little package. “Haven’t talked you in aaaaages! Guess what blah blah blah!” It gives the illusion of a conversation, but is nothing more than hollow words on a screen. Now, we can email on the go, where ever and whenever “we” want to. It says so on the commercials! Even speech is no longer a requirement for a mobile phone. My new phone now transcribes voice-mail messages and I get a text recap of what has been said. The technology hasn’t been perfected so most often I get a perplexing message that is phonetically close to what was originally said, but meaning-wise is beyond decipherable.

I’m not even going to address the vile desecration that “texting” and “online chatting” have perpetrated upon my beautiful English language. My soul isn’t strong enough to call forth that demon and walk away intact because my obsession with saying “lol” bears witness to this fact. But rest assured, I despise myself for the weakness even more than you do at hearing me “lol“ non-stop at “un-lol” worthy event and things. Lol! I will say this though, where once we had a common language to bring us together and communicate with each other, we now have garbled gibberish that is only relevant to specific age groups and retarded population clusters. Show an old man the effluent that is a modern day text message and he will walk away, shaking his head in disbelief of the stupidity.

I used to be an MP3 player nut. I used to wear it while I exercised, while I walked from A to B, while I worked, even while I did the dishes. But for the last few months, I haven’t worn it once. Why do I do this? I know it doesn’t matter and won’t make any difference whatsoever to the market, but I do it for me. It is my own personal rebellion at a commercial society that is trying its best to force us apart from each other and make us miserable. Once we’re alone and sad, it is easier to ply us with products and merchandise that will make us happy again. Well, at least for a long enough period until the next “must have” item has been released. But all it has brought me is the realisation that the silence around me is almost total because while I may not be wearing one, everyone else seems to be.

We are drifting from each other. Each aspect, each tie we have with one another in this society is being systematically cut to make a quick profit for a company. I see a pretty bleak future ahead where our lives are totally and completely customisable. We can bend reality to our whims and make even the most hum-drum chore an exciting experience. But we are all miserable and in essence, like the walking dead. Alone in perfection, isolated from our neighbours, from our families, from our friends because all we have time for now is a quick email message every so often. I hate email, I really do. It is a pale substitute for genuine human interaction, but alas, email is a necessary evil that we all must indulge in. Otherwise, how else would we enlarge our penis sizes or get Viagra pills?

Now I know I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, nor am I saying it with eloquence and style that it probably deserves, but what I can bring to this topic is my own examples and experiences of how and why this commercial society we live in makes us miserable. I have many more examples, too many to put in a facebook note  (now an updated wordpess article) where the usual attention span is one paragraph or less (don’t get tetchy! If you mention this bit to me, I shall say that I was definitely NOT talking about you!). Ask me if you see me around and we can talk, really talk about how isolated our realities are from each other. Trust me, its depressing as hell when you start to think about it!

Finally it was pointed out to me how ironic this entire piece is because I wrote it while on a lunch break with Gavin. While our breaks are usually filled with the thundering verbal sparring about various topics, like how to properly deep-throat a 14 inch black mans snake meat without gagging or which checkout chick we’d both willingly plough together (as long as no balls touch or eye contact is made), the tea room was unnervingly silent, with little talk between us, only the constant tapping of the keys and the occasional turning of a newspaper page breaking the oppressive air-conditioned silence. Gavin was making his ultra-gay poopy face throughout, which signified his displeasure at being ignored. Sorry champ!

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