Saturday, February 20, 2016

Phone booth in a briefcase!

I keep coming back to this ad over and over again, because of all the wheezy, hoary, creaky, hopelessly out-of-date cell phone ads I've ever seen, this is the Big Kahuna. It's an ad for a cell phone with a cord. Right!  A cord, and a big thing like a suitcase that you cart around with you everywhere. The convenience! The innovation! Why not just find a fucking PHONE BOOTH?? But I digress.

It's fun to see people exclaiming over magical inventions that will be worthless piles of shit in a couple of years. The thing is, nobody knows at the time. The next step up from this monstrosity was the "brick" cell, about the size of a shoe box. No cord on this one, and not even a suitcase to lug around, a huge leap in technological sophistication. The ad bragged that it weighed "just thirty ounces", which is just short of TWO POUNDS. Next time you lift a two-pound bag of Ken-L-Ration and put your back out, think on these things.

My own tech development was frozen around 2003, which tells you a lot about this blog, and the fact that my phone, while Smart, can't do too many things. And if it can, I don't know what they are. Because I simply don't care.

I feel the same dismay about people constantly phoning and texting that most other "something-somethings" (my age) do. It seems like an excuse never to talk to anyone. I never text because it's dumb, and hate the phone, only use it if I absolutely have to. I'd use it if I were dying or flat on my back and needed 9-1-1, but with my luck I'd forget how to turn it on. I'm not saying that's good, in fact I realize as I write this that it makes me look seriously backward. But I do wonder about the social skills of the kids who are coming up now. Will they in fact have any? Will they speak, if they speak at all, in tweets (how r u?). Will the vocal cords eventually atrophy and become as useless as the tonsils or the appendix? 

(I just had a horrible vision of everyone carrying around those Stephen Hawking synthesizers so they won't have to actually speak. It will truly be an egalitarian society when everyone sounds exactly the same. And who needs emotions, those messy old things? That tinny monotone can sound mighty romantic late at night.)

The other day on Facebook I saw an argument between educators as to whether or not we should bother to teach cursive writing to children in school. They won't be using it, will they? Who uses a pen these days, it's all done on your phone, and even if you have to - what's that called again? Write script with a pen? What's wrong with block capitals anyway? They were good enough for Grade Two, and weren't we all really at our best at age eight? It's beginning to seem it's as smart as most people are ever going to get.

I realize I'm hopelessly out of touch and devolving into some sort of curmudgeonette. But taking away cursive writing while still teaching physics and trigonometry seems somehow wrongheaded. School has never taught kids what they will actually need to know in life, which is how to handle a job interview, how to draw up a budget, how to grocery shop and cook for a family, and (my God!) interpersonal skills like how to hold a marriage together. (Marriage counselling in school? My God! That means they might want sex!)

Whatever tribe of Martians gets to decide what kids will learn in a school curriculum, their chief aim must be to choke a child's brain with so much stultifyingly irrelevant crap that they will stop learning permanently and thus become a more productive, non-thinking member of society. This is extremely useful in that it softens them into the hands of capitalism. Whatever nub or larval stump of intelligence may still be squirming in their numbed cortex, technology will quickly and efficiently exterminate it. 

Along with all this, I had the most awful thought. If the movement to extract and exterminate the human soul with technological innovation is taken to its extreme, kids won't even need to learn how to sign their name any more. Some sort of retinal scan will do the job of identification, and can't be forged. Unless someone learns how to fool the system and use someone else's retinas. It's done all the time with urine samples. Hey officer, I didn't do it! It was that guy over there, see? The one with the guilty look in his eyes.

(I won't, WON'T take this a step further, to those microchips they'll soon be implanting so that we can all communicate telepathically. There won't be a way to NOT listen, to block it out, because the messages will be broadcast in a constant, unintelligible babble. Think what that would do for Donald Trump.)

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