June 02, 2011
NEW YORK—Summertime, and as the song tells us, “the livin’ is easy.” The temperature is in the nineties, girls’ dresses are at their flimsiest, love is in the air, and sex is everywhere—what else can one wish for? This is my last week in the Bagel, and as always I am reluctant to leave. I’ve trained diligently, played less hard than usual, read a lot, and even managed to identify cedars, poplars, willows, and cherry trees during my daily walks in the park. When it gets very hot, the city takes on a celluloid air, with old movies about the place playing again and again, like a rondo, in my memory: James Stewart in Rear Window, Fred and Ginger dancing away on a glamorous rooftop, and Woody Allen romancing someone far too young for him down by the East River. The 1934 film title Manhattan Melodrama tells the whole New York story in two words.
One of my life’s pleasures is not owning an iPod, Blackberry, or Kindle. I have never visited Facebook. I own a mobile telephone that I use only when aboard my boat; otherwise I am mercifully free from these ghastly inventions that are turning modern life into technological nightmares. Can you imagine flirting with a girl by texting her? Or by emailing her that you love her—or that you no longer love her, for that matter? Morons zig-zag in our streets, their eyes riveted to the ghastly gimmick in their hands, oblivious to their surroundings, slaves to a technological god that has turned the dumb into robots and the unimaginative into zombies. Until last week, I was not aware that all this crap is called “social media” until I read an article by Jonathan Franzen declaring he was sick to death of hearing social media disrespected by cranky 51-year-olds. Add twenty-three more years, substitute “disrespected” with the word closest to “bowel movement,” and you have little ole me, Franzen, you moron. This guy is supposed to be a famous writer, but this sentence makes very little sense to me:
A related phenomenon is the transformation, courtesy of Facebook, of the verb ‘to like’ from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse, from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice.
Huh? In other words, my feelings for the Spectator’s deputy editor are one click away with my mouse—whatever that is? I have some unsolicited advice for you, Franzen: Stop looking into your whatchamacallit and start identifying trees in Central Park, you zombie. It’s called living and you should try it.“