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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wouldja believe... Internet Day 10,000-? ... July 30 2016 edition

Check yesterday's edition for WEEKEND EVENTS. This is a special edition, to look at life with the internet, which started 10,000 days ago. And we commit the heresy of questioning whether it's really been that good of an idea.

Wouldja believe... Internet Day 10,000-?

By Larry Wines

July 28, 2016, marked the 10,000th day of existence for the internet, according to Mozilla Firefox. Of course, the people at that cyber entity -- assuming there actually are people at any cyber entity -- were gushing about how wonderful this cyber realm is for "our people," and how the whole world should be celebrating.

Some of us question how and why. Starting with why it's supposed to be better to be constantly connected to some kind of device.

Constantly surveiled. Our every move tracked. Our every activity monitored. So it can be packaged and processed. And sold to whoever will pay to monitor all of us. So they can target how they market to us. And influence us. And make us feel validated by buying what they're selling. Because they have the capability to make any of us feel ostracized, otherwise. You buy into their disposable consumer culture or you're nobody. With a need to become somebody. By buying something.

It isn't like popping a Chiclets before you called that girl you like. Or walking to the store to see whatever's there that's new. It's been online for twenty minutes now, dummy. Where were you?

Just buy it online. Whadaya mean, you want to "try it out first"-? As if there were something like a store of some kind that has a bunch of different stuff with salespeople who would open the box and let you! If there ever was anything like that, that store's gone because Amazon is cheaper. You want to "browse books on a shelf?" You just order online. They suggest what you need to buy based on what you bought. You don't need to find some kind of "book" store. Didn't those vanish in the olden days with the "record stores"-? If you try to get anything more than individual song downloads of what you already know you like, you're crazy. Who looks for new music that might actually be different? Some collector fanatic? Nobody can afford a big enough apartment for a "record collection," if anybody ever could. Look on my flash drive. If I don't have it there, nobody wants to hear it, anyway. What "album notes"-? If they're not online, you don't need 'em.

Celebration Day

This is the not-so-brave world of the past mere 10,000 days. And we're supposed to "celebrate with 'our' people," as at least one empire of cybertech expects. No, excuse me. Make that "what 'the cyber community' expects," since anything online always claims it's there with and for "the cyber community." It's how you know you're sitting at the Cool Kids table.

Can I find Edvard Munch's painting, "The Scream," online?

Day 10,000 of what is supposed to be universally and unquestionably accepted as an improvement. Certainly not over what it's cost us, culturally.

As in, 10,001 days ago, didn't we actually go outside to get a newspaper? Wasn't it a good thing when, whatever you were doing, nobody could bother you, and they couldn't get mad about it because they didn't expect you to answer a message at 2 AM about their silly observation? And they'd never have rang your phone at 2 AM, anyway? Wasn't it nice when we were not expected to look at cat pictures from people we don't know? Didn't we enjoy meeting people in line to get concert tickets, getting to know them during the ten hours we had to wait, even singing with them the songs of the band we were all getting tickets to see? Wasn't that concert hugely memorable because it took all that effort to go?

Wasn't ANYTHING more meaningful if we had to actually go out and do something to make it happen? Remember when you looked forward to going out with friends for big or small things, because actual human contact used to be important, and looking into the faces of the others at the table was as meaningful as looking at the person saying something hilarious, or thoughtful, or profound?

Didn't we used to have free time before it all got sucked into a computer? Weren't there things called hobbies, building things in the garage, making a wooden ship model that you could sail in a pond, or an glider you took to fly in the actual air under the actual sky where other people were flying kites or playing catch with their kid or throwing frisbees with their dog? Of course, all this same technology is why you can't work on your own car in the garage anymore. Even if you can afford a place anymore that comes with a garage.

Remember what a thrill it was to get a letter in the mail that someone had taken time to write, by hand, just to you? Or a postcard with a message about the picture and the little handwritten sentiment that they wished you were there to see those sights and feel that breeze and smell those flowers with them?

So we're 10,000 days distant from things like that now, eh? We're supposed to celebrate the demise of all those simple and profound -- and now lost -- pleasures?

We're supposed to be glad that everyone we know is now instantly capable of becoming an insufferable know-it-all about any given isolated fragment of any one esoteric subject. With absolutely no understanding that their instant impartation of virtual "knowledge" is wholly absent of all REAL understandings of how anything got to be that way. Even down to how their mastery of their vast virtuality is just a tiny picture on their newfound puzzle fragment. And how that cannot possibly bring context and meaning to their smug little self-created perch in the personal fantasy of a cyber domain that they are quite certain they rule.

All of us are expected to find fulfillment in some "virtual experience" because it is "interactive," while keeping our flabby asses fixated in a chair, or vegetating on a couch, or curled up in bed with a glowing screen instead of another human being (who we have probably forgotten is there, but fixated on their own glowing screen). Oh, but we're exploring some graphic artists' ridiculous imaginings of the sunken ruins of Atlantis with some grinning cartoon fish character. Or rafting the rapids of the Grand Canyon with a soundtrack of silly exaggerated screams. Or climbing El Capitan in Yosemite with no clue of the broken blisters and blood and smelly clothes and sunburnt and rock-abraded skin. Or more likely wasting gas and time endangering others on the road by "virtually hunting" to "collect" goofy Japanese animated images of infantile whatnots. Or splattering CGI blood and guts. Or zapping aliens. Or killing -- something -- all while stuffing our gullets with whatever just replaced bon-bons and accruing diabetes and heart disease and strokes at shockingly young ages at the fastest growing rates in all of history.

Y'know, you literally cannot buy a pair of real backpacking boots anymore? Just lightweight little nylon things from China that fall apart after a hundred miles. The marketplace is responding to virtual activity replacing physical experience in the real world. But they'll cyber track you to the store and send a discount coupon to your phone for cheap junk so you'll feel good about buying it. So you can't find boots for backpacking. Wouldn't you be offline too many days to do that? You need exercise? Michelle Obama's Move campaign has you feeling guilty and lethargic?

Oh, but there's an app for that! For structuring your workout at the indoor gym where every machine has data terminals. So you won't have the anxiety of withdrawal from being constantly connected. What? Leave and go chop wood? FOR REAL? Are you kidding? That would be outdoors. It's hot. There's no wifi. It's too bright in the sun to see the screen. There's probably a lumberjack app if you wanna play. Yeah! I found it! It comes with Monty Python's Lumberjack song! Perfect!

Is there a door? You want to celebrate a 10,000 day landmark of this? No thank you. Until we use this stuff for something worthwhile and real, like sending humans to other planets to physically explore and search for other life in the universe, we're wasting all this vaunted technology on silliness. No, the best gift that all this narcissistic, self-absorbed technology could provide in its present context is a time machine programmed to spend one day in a lost age. Set it for 10,001 days ago. When we were free.


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