I was sitting outside on the patio at my local coffee joint the other day when suddenly I witnessed something terribly tragic.
The majority of people occupying other tables around me -- couples and groups of friends alike -- were apparently all engaged in an intimate tête-à-tête with the same hot date, known as iPhone, iPad and MacBook.
Am I the only one who sees what's wrong with that picture? Where has the world gone to, and most importantly, what am I doing here? Not "here" as in this particular establishment, but "here" as in this modern life. If this is not proof-positive that we have all become socially incapacitated, then I don't know what is.
People won't shut up about how advances in modern technology have really changed their lives for the better. I'm not objecting to the fact that progress has indeed irreversibly changed our everyday existence, but for the better? Not so much!
Frankly, we were much better off some decades ago without those fancy-schmancy gadgets rampantly taking over our lives and atrophying our brains. Back then, it was a different and much simpler time. While all these advancements were made to facilitate our lives, ironically they have accomplished the opposite outcome. Take, for instance, the Internet and all the social networking media platforms, such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook. What's really social about them? I have some 500-plus friends on Facebook, yet never in my entire life have I felt lonelier and more isolated than now.
And, like the rest of the cyberspace nation, those 500 friends (with only a quarter of whom I'm either peripherally or closely acquainted) are always too busy updating their obnoxiously impudent statuses (TMI people!), posting unflattering pictures displaying their spectacular debauchery skills (not nearly their most compelling personality feature), and flaunting a seemingly fabulous life that they absolutely don't have but think they do, to make time for a coffee rendezvous.
We're forgetting how to participate in the real world. Barely anyone is interested in doing anything a wee bit human and social anymore. It's much easier to send a text, an email or an IM. And while we're at it, why bother speaking proper English at all? Let's instead abbreviate everything into codes and emoticons: BTW, LOL, LMAO, LMFAO, OMG, BFF, B4, BRB, FYI, TGIF, WTF, THX, etc.
We're all following the herd like idiots and have become experts in the false relationship department perpetually trying on different personalities. But eventually we'll all be exposed for the frauds that we are. Modern technology has morphed us into an extraordinary bunch of lazy bums with debilitating co-dependency issues.
Case in point: cell phones. Does anyone else not see the irony of the wireless syndrome? In a literal sense, wireless might mean "sans" wires, but figuratively speaking, it simply means the shackles are just invisible. Here's the deal: cell phones have not created any freedom; rather, they've taken it away from us. We're glued to our little digital screens almost 24/7 and have spectacularly morphed into phenomenal imbeciles.
How else would you explain this incomprehensible, absurd fascination with the "Talking Tom Cat" iPhone application? Tom is a digital pet cat that responds to your touch and repeats everything you say with a funny voice. And get this: you can do all sorts of abusive things to him, including poking him and grabbing his tail. Have at it! Torture that poor feline all you want; apparently it's a freaking blast.
Have we all lost our imagination? Have we essentially evolved into a genuinely bored society, or perhaps we're just boring people?
How about that GPS (I've now come to the conclusion that this stands for "Get Permanently Screwed")? I was recently stuck in freeway traffic with my friend Spencer, who swears by the reliability of all high-tech gadgets. Since I wasn't in the driver's seat and not paying much attention to the road, we, of course, got lost. Wait! Let me rephrase that: he got lost because unlike him, I know L.A. like the back of my hand. As I was suggesting optional routes to take, Spencer simply wouldn't have it, because Lady Blah-Blah was barking other orders at him.
"In 0.5 miles exit the freeway and make a right."
But in 0.5 miles there was no exit in sight.
Talk about the blind leading the blind! Are we that dependent on computers and technology that we don't ever think of thinking for ourselves anymore? What happened to the good old-fashioned ritual of pulling over, rolling down your window and engaging in face-to-face human interaction by asking a random local pedestrian for directions?
Oh, that's right! We don't have time.
And really, why should we bother when everything is made possible at the click of a button? We've created an apathetic world in which we can effortlessly conduct our lives without ever needing to walk past our doorway or even reach farther than what our arms will allow us to.
While we are indeed transcending our human limitations through technology, we're also threatening the very essence of what it is to be human. Living under the influence of an ever-expanding world of new technology is making us lose a sense of whom and where we are. We're all functioning under this new time zone called VST (Virtual Surreal Time), within which we're abdicating our own identity and physical freedom, and surrendering it to the machine.
Things are happening at such an accelerated pace that we're not at all changing the world for the better. Rather, it is this artificial intelligence that is changing us for the worse. Before life completely becomes just a passing blur, I suggest that we wake up and not only smell the coffee but take time to drink it, too!