June 05, 2009

The end of civilization has arrived, and I”€™m mad as hell about it.  Last week I went to a wedding in the Canary Islands.  I was invited to a magnificent hotel owned by the father of the bride, only to find myself surrounded by contemptuous twerps. While I can appreciate how taxing it is to make polite conversation, what on earth is wrong with people that they find it acceptable to use their telephone or blackberry at the table? Only a fool would travel any great distance to spend his time online. Just when I thought things couldn”€™t get any worse, I discovered the twerps in question also lacked a sense of humor. The waiter came to serve dessert. I declined on behalf of these oafs, telling our server that they only ate blackberry pie and wouldn”€™t be having any wedding cake. I was then further insulted, and told to stop screaming and yelling. I was, of course, confused and upset, but now that I”€™ve time to reflect, it makes perfect sense to me why these people, who talk only to machines, would find a living, breathing person so obtrusive. 

Regardless, I will always be surprised when people mistake attentiveness and jocularity for aggression. Conceivably, people detach themselves from reality in reaction to this misperceived threat. I can only describe these types of people as rude, and peasant-like, preposterously dressed in ill-fitting monkey suits, who would best serve their communities working fields rather than parties. We are certainly far too disengaged, and perhaps unwisely sympathetic to this sort of behavior.

Anthropologists have located the habitats where louses likes the one I just described flourish and propagate”€”they”€™re called “€œnon-places.”€ Airports are a good example of the kind of space that doesn”€™t generate a sense of belonging. An airport is a place that only exists so one can get on to some other destination. The trouble is we have come to live in these transitory spaces. For some people, being present doesn”€™t actually happen. One could call them zombies. Whatever these people are, they are a sad and wasted lot. I certainly hope to avoid ill-mannered oafs like the ones I encountered in Gran Canaria at any future social engagements. Should I have the likely misfortune of failing in my endeavor, I shall remind them of the old canary in the coalmine.  Though somehow I doubt it will make much difference, so long as we fail as a culture to distinguish between the benefits, and the detriments, of technology. 

The BBC published a story a few months back outlining the pressure our World Wide Web will be burdened by as more and more people have access to the Internet. It seems that in just a few short years it could take several hours to get through a 30-second clip of Brüno going down on Eminem. The day technology junkies are forced to abandon their desks in frustration and go outside because too many people are clogging up the system, I shall be pleased.  I will greet these fools with empathy, and the ubiquitous bear hug.  But first I shall demand an apology, smack them on the back of the head, and shout, Dummkopf, as loudly as possible.  Maybe then my deluded dinner companions will know what it actually means to scream and yell.  Better yet, perhaps by then they will have discovered an online guide to basic etiquette.  Unfortunately, these fantasies are no consolation. That there are so few people who seem to know how to be good dinner companions is quite simply, a dreadful reality.


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