Special Opinion to the CC Mirror by C. Cornweller
Anachronistic, now there’s a word you don’t see thrown around very often. But for those of us in the sunset years of our lives, perhaps a more apt word you will not see. Except for maybe the word outmoded. But, I refuse to accept it as my label. When most of these high strung and idealistic Millennials and generation X, Y’s and Z’s were just being born and not even a gleam in their birth mother’s eyes, I was busy living life. I was already computer savvy when Bill Gates made his first billion. (WISH I knew then, what I know now!) I had read Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception and Brave New World, Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot and George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal World. Most of these book I had read before I had left high school in the seventies. So, to say I was mentally prepared for today’s world, would be somewhat of understatement. A shining few saw the future and believe me, it wasn’t so shiny. Today’s all-knowing generation would do well to immerse themselves in some hardy reading and not just on social media or on the outer fringes, as I once did. Dig deep and revel in the history of these past one hundred years. These dead bones of a free society would intrigue you almost as much as the murder itself. But, then again, there I go….Saying too much. After all, it’s freedom of speech, as long as you don’t say too much.
Which brings me to my point of this silly little rant. Our future was spelled out a long time ago. And our today, yesterday, was once our future. When I was a child, microwaves and transonic passenger jets were just something on the drawing boards. Jetpacks and Helicopter-Automobiles were promised to every American family. We’d all be living twenty/thirty feet off the ground in homes that revolved to catch or avoid the sun’s rays, depending on the seasons. Prosperity abounded and war would either be abandoned or would be so terrible as to be avoided at all costs. How naïve we were! Of course I had an excuse. I was child. I cannot imagine what went through my father’s mind as he watched this propaganda. Needless to say, many of these things did not pan out for the average American worker. But other things, not promised, did.
As I mentioned above, Future Shock written by Alvin Toffler in the early sixties, was one of the books I read in high school, either as required reading or for an assignment…I forget. But, I never forgot the book and what it contained. I have never forgotten the fact that as I was leaving the security of my youth and my home, society was literally changing before me. I had learned through this reading, that I’d better find a sense of who I was and what it was I needed to do and do it quickly, so as not to be left behind. Fortunately, I chose a career that enabled me to grow within that hothouse of progress experienced in the business world where computers were at the forefront and I choose to be one of their operators. Fast forward thirty odd years and here I am typing this out on an IBM processor Dell made computer in the year 2016. I have happily acclimated to the trends predicted in the book Future Shock. I am also the proud owner of an LG 4 smartphone. (I know! I refuse to follow trends and go for the latest upgrade-I’ll leave that to the Millennials; they can be the bug bait) A device, had it been shown to me even ten years ago in its present state, would have blown my mind! I really don’t think the youth of today can comprehend the speed in which technology now multiplies, much less has taken over. A comparison to our grandparents witnessing their first airplane flight and then watching men walking on the moon would be appropriate. Imagine their thoughts at that progress!
But, is it really progress we are achieving or is it something else? In this vast information age, what are we realizing? I was once told, by a fellow co-worker, that the beauty of the internet is that everything on it will be accessible and free! (Seriously!) That information was given to me in 1989, two years before it became readily accessible to the public and seemed plausible at the time. So, how did that work out for everybody? Ask someone in China about democracy. Ask someone CatFished how their love life is turning out. Ask someone whose personal identity has been hacked, stolen and sold, how that internet thing worked out. I see articles, today, on social media that are absolute drivel, downright lies. Everything, everywhere, is not what it appears to be. And the internet, so promising of intellectual access and information, is the equivalent of a bad neighborhood at night in some instances, if you are not careful. It is crawling with scam artist, pop up ads, spyware, credit card and identity theft; not to mention site after site after site of misinformation, malice and of course the occasional Trojan horse bearing malware. Welcome to the Brave New World of information. Where the Real Truth is not readily available while falsehoods are exalted and spread around the world. My favorite meme…err, sorry, Mark Twain quote is: Today the lie has traveled half-way around the world before the truth can get its boots on. Or as I researched, (on the internet!)the actual saying is Falsehood flies and the Truth comes limping after; so that when Men come to be deciev’d, it is too late; the Jest is over and the Tale has had its Effect. Attributed to Jonathan Swift. Don’t know who he is? Google it. Just be wary of that popup when you do. Mark Twain just dumbed it down for the rest of us. He gets it.
So, it has come to this. Here we are at furthest reaches of technology (so far) and basically what have we achieved? A faster and easier method of ripping each other off and reaching into one another’s pocket for the ultimate grab bag? Methinks it is so. The latest I-Phone is nothing more than a slight variation of upgrade on the last I-phone which was a slight variation upgrade on the one before it and so on and so on. Each being obsolete and disposable the moment it left the shelf. Anyone remember the Zippo lighter? Of course not! The Zippo has morphed into the BIC lighter which (if not stolen by your chain smoking friend) usually is either lost or thrown away before it is actually used up. Zippos were made to last a lifetime! They were given for gifts as heirlooms. They came back from wars, battered; but with a lifetime of wonderful memories! But of course those were the days when the Army gave away not packs, but cartons of Chesterfields and Lucky Strikes to nervous young soldiers. So, guaranteeing that if not maimed or killed in battle, dear old Grand Tobacco and his lifetime partner Death would eventually get around to you. Of course, aided in the process, by their shiny young nephew, your zippo heirloom lighter. Have things changed much? I don’t think so. Studies show that holding a device mere centimeters from your brain that receives electromagnetic waves at the speed of light can possibly cause brain damage. Why do I say possibly? Because studies are inconclusive. Inconclusive like the studies on Climate Change being exacerbated by man or that trickledown economics causes prosperity for the working class or Monsanto is not killing bees. Why are they inconclusive…? You really have to ask that as you go out to stand in line again to buy the latest smart phone upgrade?
Want truthful information? Go to the internet and look it up. The truth is wandering all over the boards and back again. And, again, that is my point. The future was foretold in many books long before this century began. Long before lies and dis-information became fashionable and accepted. Back when truth was in vogue. (Remember our pal Mr. Twain. He LOVED the truth!) Long before I began to sit here in front of this black electronic box with its ionized plastic screen and happy little electrons pounding my frontal lobe while watching black font appear on a white background and my fingers gaily dance away their day. Now, if I could just find that new Helicopter Car somewhere on the Web or down at the local dealership! (Insert laughing Emoticon here)
Lastly, I refuse to go gently into that good night. And I refuse to stop learning and thinking and seeking truth. I rage against the machine every day and in any way I can. I rage against ignorance and acceptance of the status quo. I rage against the forces that scream but it’s your freedom of choice to our faces, yet make it their priority to take our choices from us at each turn with every divisive law written. I rage against that which is represented as leadership, progress and goodwill, when it truly presents itself as madness, lies and death. I rage because I will not go gently into that good night. All Good souls, the last wave by, crying how bright their frail deeds might have danced on that green bay. Wild souls who caught and sang the sun in flight, and learned, too late, they grieved it on its way. Grave souls, near death, who see with blinding sight. Blind eyes can blaze like meteors and be bright. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. With all apologies to Dylan Thomas… and youth.