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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Digital minions continue to consume society

Recently, while waiting between flights at the San Francisco Airport, I found myself sitting at the airport bar, as I normally do, imbibing a Harvey Wallbanger as I normally do, watching the action on the tarmac and admiring the general strangeity of the surrounding venue.
In many ways, this place is a present-day remembrance of a Silk Road outpost, a crossroads and exchange of foreign ideas and peoples.
I have spent entirely too much time in these huge transit hubs in my life to this point, and despite the overpriced drinks and generally disinterested employees, one of the redeeming qualities of the experience has always been to meet different people, and have random conversations that went on about random things, in the process gaining a perspective on life I never otherwise probably would have.
How often in your own everyday existence, for example, have you encountered a disgraced Middle Eastern banker, or some dirt farmer named Joe from Wyoming who struck it rich because of the vast petroleum deposits on his land, or even a girl named Anemone from the Netherlands who was tripping out of the Old World for the first time, let alone have an actual conversation with them? Some of the strangest discussions I have ever had occurred at airports, yet this veritable mosaic of multicolored views seems to be slowly but surely going the way of the buffalo.
The San Francisco International Airport used to resemble the tempered insanity of a San Francisco sidewalk cafe, where one could strike up a conversation with anyone about practically anything. It has, though, like so many other institutions, succumbed to the perils of modern technology and devolved into yet another example of the “alone together” society that is unfortunately one of the hallmarks of the 21st Century.
Nobody talks to each other. What used to be a strange place filled with strange people talking about strange things has become just another stale, silent place filled to the brim with people engrossed in their screens.
Looking around, I noticed virtually everyone to be stoned on some sort of digital opiate.
Everyday people reduced to the stupor of burned-out junkies, strung out on the marvels of modern communication devices, chasing dragons on their iPods.
This experience is indicative of the direction our society as a whole has shifted toward in the recent past.
Gone are the days of spontaneity, and in their place, exists a dull feasting of information, an increasingly voracious lust satisfied only by the frenetic pace of living that modern-day technology provides.
This constant craving is further stoked by the peddlers of technological smack.
Every so often, the pushers put out some new product that is deemed “must- have,” which is followed by a tsunami of junkies scurrying to their respective local retail stores to get a sweet taste of it.
People live for the junk. People constantly have to update where they are, who they are with, and what they are doing on the thirty-six different social media platforms they utilize, all for approval of their digital minions.
I can think of multiple incidences in my own past where something totally ludicrous and zany has happened, and the first reaction of those around me wasn’t awe of the spectacle. No, it was usually a rather abrupt chortle of “I gotta post about this on Facebook!”
It’s a very sad sign of the times.
People are more excited about what someone else will say about what happened to them instead of actually enjoying the raw insanity of the event which just transpired.
With innovations such as Google Glass- a set of digitized glasses which allow the wearer to essentially “live” with their profiles-, coming online, where does it all end?
And what can be done about this epidemic? Putting one’s phone or tablet down for a few seconds and enjoying the company of others and your surroundings is a good start.
Because as awesome as it is finding out that one of your Facebook Friends ate Trix for breakfast yesterday, I can assure students that there are more awesome things than that going on all around even if students have been made oblivious to them by snazzy electronic devices.
And ultimately, going out of one’s way to talk to random, interesting looking strangers is the best way to reverse this. Despite the news-media making it seem as if we live in a world of Charlie Mansons, most people by and large are pretty harmless, and you never know who you’re going to end up talking to.
I once met Tom Wolfe, author of counter-culture classics like “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” solely because of a random conversation started at a run-down tavern in Sausalito.
After a couple drinks my flight was called and I sifted my way through the sea of digital dope fiends toward the boarding area, the absence of a stale-piss aroma the only thing totally assuring me that I wasn’t walking along Market Street at midnight.

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Digital minions continue to consume society