Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Humanity's Fifth Age- The Screen Age

I cannot begin this little meditation by writing that "Every school child knows" that Human History progressed from Stone, to Copper, to Bronze, and then to Iron Age. American school children do not know, and have not for decades. I have heard of children who do not know that Winter comes after Fall, who do not know what continent they live on. They will not be reading this, and so will not know that we are living in the Screen Age, though it surrounds them daily and keeps their fingers busy.

I read once that young men, influenced by the omnipresent perfection of women on TV and in films, have trouble accepting the flaws that every real female is heir to. They do not think that cameras lie.

And now that we broadcast ourselves daily onto our own reality show,we think the world is more interested in us than it is, we think we are more interesting than we are. We pull out our camera phone, our computer pad(that is if we ever put them away) and record every banal moment of our lives. There is always something to update, to check on, to buy, to dream very little dreams about.

Picture a break room in a modern hospital where the nurses gather for midnight supper. The TV is on, and when the diners are not thumbing messages through space to whomever, they watch scattered moments from "Storage Wars". No one opens their mouth. They talk with their fingers, in blurted nothings in under 140 characters to people not in the room. Or maybe they are . Perhaps they are texting the nurse beside them. Talking, thinking, and caring at the same time is such hard work-

I read a story in the New York Times that talked about how distracted even doctors are now. They check Facebook while doing neurosurgery. Acting as though there was no one else important in the operating room.

The poet W.H. Auden called the 20th Century the Age of Anxiety.( We all know no one has anxiety anymore. It is being stamped out pill by pill). But the 21st Century, at least the first twelve years of it, is not only the Screen Age, it is also the Age of Distraction. How happy this must make those planning our dystopic and numb future. People believe anything they see on a screen. Perhaps by 2030 we will have reached the Zombie Age , when all we see are images sent to our brains through chips implanted behind our eyeballs.

I am happy I will not live to see it-

1 comment:

Out on the prairie said...

I don't text, it takes away from the pleasure of actually conversing.