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Zeroes and ones


So Frankenstorm is winding down with all of the once in a generation mayhem and destruction unfolding as predicted. Manhattan is underwater, the famous boardwalk in Atlantic City has been torn away, a replica of the HMS Bounty went down off North Carolina, her captain missing with a female crew member found dead. The East Coast, so often dodging the really Biblical stuff, was not spared and the recovery will be long and expensive. The TV weathermen and the human dipsticks sent to cradle their microphones in raging winds have all gotten their shots while the stock market closed for two straight days for the first time since the 19th Century.

The well scripted global warming screeds have been dutifully revived as the climate change deniers have been strangely quiet this time. Sandy actually was the Perfect Storm and beyond the devastation comes a reminder that we self absorbed human beings cling to this planet like moss and are a good deal less productive. In a time when misinformed thought is pimped out as truth during an election season branded with cash dependent self delusion, we sit in front of our TV’s, computers, IPads and tablets with a stunning self containment. There are no real tragedies anymore. There is only content, Tweets, Facebook messages, links, clicks, memes, surveys, likes, texts, recommendations and OMG’s! It’s all entertainment for the purpose of spackling over the banality of the early 21st Century. The faces we love are avatars on social media and we breathe the same air as they only rarely. Human connection is truly antiquated and it will go extinct when the last person to remember a world before digital content goes on sleep mode for good.

In a coffee shop just this morning, a nagging young father sat with his young son and daughter. The girl was playing with his IPhone and he snapped, “Give me that!” As he began to tap away, ignoring his two children, who wanted nothing more than some attention from their father, he added, “Just entertain yourselves for a while!” As callous as the digitally obsessed are today, we will surely unlearn the very basic tenets of patience, compassion and love, which may be found only rarely right now. In their place will be the latest version of some device that will empty wallets and divert people from the irreplaceable time that we have on this storm racked planet. Too many human legacies will be only an obsession with an outmoded electronic toy as their children will learn the same habits to fill the void they were left with in the first place.

Digital media is actually a virus. It feeds on human isolation and it diverts people from the necessary work, time and character building which once formed the best kind of inheritance for anyone’s daughter or son. Like television, alcohol or a car, it can be used responsibly or it can isolate and destroy. If people really are only monkeys with car keys, then we are much too susceptible to shiny objects, bigger screens and more apps. It took me years to understand the famous phrase, “The medium is the message.”  I comprehend it now more than I ever have. Digital media reproduces itself.

We are only the hosts.



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