What I'm talking
about is the cell phone revolution and the passion of users to
text rather than to talk, and to sext
in lieu of writing altogether.
If you don't
find what I have just said disconcerting, you are part of the
problem. And if you don't think it's a problem, because you're
addicted to your cell phone and everybody has one, and
sexting and texting and spending hours on it every day
is fun, let me spell it out for you: it's all circling the drain,
We have become
a push button society. This was predicted in
Science Fiction long ago. I have yet to see the
spatulated fingertips that were predicted. But I'm sure
they are on their way. One thing Science
Fiction did not predict was that it would be thumbs that
would be used to control our miniature handheld devices. And
that reality is just plainly stranger than fiction.
using your thumbs the way they were never intended, and you will
develop Texting Thumb Syndrome.
away with the slide rule, something I had just learned to use
and enjoyed immeasurably back in the day. Desktop computers,
laptops, and tablets have surpassed
ENIAC which seemed nearly as big as a city block. And
palm size cell phones have not only made land lines passé,
but have surpassed their primitive mobile counterparts that were
as big as your dad's old black lunch bucket.
comes with a cost. And the cost of this electronic revolution
is our freedom, our future, and perhaps our very survival.
Because writing is all done on computer now at school and at
home, schools no longer teach cursive writing. Can you believe
that? Everyone is just happily living in the here and now punching
on those QWERTY keyboards.
But nobody is thinking of a worse-case scenario. To go
Zen and tangential for a moment, at least
Graphospasm from writing too much is a thing of the past,
or is it? Do thumb wielding texters
is becoming visual. It began in 1826
when Joseph Niépce
invented the camera and the means of creating permanent
images. Building on that, the Kodak
moment thrived for over one hundred years. Then, in
1969, George Smith
and Willard Boyle invented
the charge-coupled device or
CCD, the image sensor that's
the heart of all digital cameras. And the rest is history. Digital
cameras eventually drove Kodak into bankruptcy. Sociologically,
this focus on the visual starting with
Niépce and ending with digital cameras in cell
phones has changed our families, our lives, and now threatens
our entire civilization.
have started revolutions. Do not believe everything you see.
And underage girls not just text but
sext their boyfriends right under their father's noses.
You might know them as selfies of
the unclothed variety. Did I mention that sending and
receiving unclothed photos is illegal for a minor? And let me
remind you ladies who send unclothed photos of yourself out onto
the net. Once the Genie is out of
the bottle, it is out there
in the cloud and will haunt you forever.
The sad truth
is that society is becoming ever more fixated on the visual rather
than on the written word.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beautiful, subtle, and eternal
words from Sonnets from the Portuguese,
XLIII: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
have been replaced by the base, Cro-Magnon, and transient,
digital images of a girl's vagina sexted
to her boyfriend. I'm sure somewhere in the world, a soldier
is being sexted right now with
vulgar images of his girlfriend making
the beast with two backs with a
friend with benefits in lieu of sending her patriotic
ex-boyfriend a Dear John letter. It's all so sad because language
is dying in favor of devolution
toward the cave drawings that began it all.
How many generations
of cell phone sexting and
our focus on visual media have to pass before, as
Science Fiction, predicts, our literature is limited
to wordless cartoons? How long before words no longer have meaning?
How long before we relinquish the hard fought freedoms that written
words have granted us, and books become illegal, as in
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451?
these are vehicles for our ideas. Great ideas have been put down
on paper with pen and ink. Countries have been forged on these
ideas and knocked down. Ideals, privileges and rights have been
defined. Laws have been recorded and amended. Writing forms the
foundation of our civilization. And with apologies to
Theodor Seuss Geisel, how much shall be built on the
revealing pictures of Cindy Lou Who's
Who Who? Except for being illegal and providing a minor
titillation, what is the value? And how long shall it last? Today's
tulip is tomorrow's withered flower; whereas, what is written
outlasts us all.
Ars Longa. Vita Brevis. Art is long. Life is short.
So, keep writing.
I don't care if the boards of education here, there, and everywhere
have taken cursive writing off their curriculums. They have been
wrong in the past. And some brainiac
in the Education Department or Ministry, depending on
where you live, has sure pulled a boner with this one. Writing
is necessary. Hand writing is imperative. Why?
very realistic scenario: the power goes out. I don't mean a glitch
in the system. I mean Electromagnetic
Pulse or EMP from,
Heaven forbid, a nuclear explosion high in the atmosphere. But
more likely, based on our sun's activity of late, I'm talking
about a massive solar flare that literally fries every transformer
on the planet. Burned out transformers everywhere means no cell
phones. And, in that scenario, it will take decades to get the
cell towers back up and running. Industry will grind to a halt.
You better live near the ground floor because those apartments
and condos in the stratosphere will be unreachable without working
elevators. There will be no air transportation or cars, trucks,
or ships. The shelves in the grocery stores will be empty because
everything is transported by truck. So, you also better live
on a farm. And what about Sonny Jim
and his sexting to
Cindy Lou Who? Well, that
will be a thing of the past. And language, that will be a thing
of the past too because no one will have learned to write
cursively or to think logically because without writing,
logic disintegrates. So, where will we be? My guess is we will
be forced to return to the wild to eat berries, and to dig up
onions and turnips. We would be mute like the
Yahoos in Swift's
"Land of the Houyhnhnms"
from Gulliver's Travels
or like the human beings in
Planet of the Apes by
Pierre Boulle because we have not talked for so long
that we have lost the ability. If we discovered a book that had
not yet disintegrated, we would not know how to read the words.
And the tome would be more valuable as kindling than for the
information it contained. We would find ourselves in a new
Dark Age far more primitive than the
post-apocalyptic vision depicted in
Mad Max. And where a couple of generations before, our
world was all computers, pads, cell phones and big screens, it
would be reduced to rusting cars with fried ignition coils, and
oxidizing plastic. And our once affluent society, where everything
was available for a price would be reduced to cannibalism, darkness,
and polymorphous perversion.
who visit sometime in the far future, will be amazed when they
dig up our bones. They will discover the human race split in
two much like H.G. Wells imagined
in The Time Machine.
A race of brutes with gigantic thumbs will rest atop a race of
far more elegant creatures. The brutes will be clinging to small,
hand held devices, even in death. And when the aliens energize
those devices, they will discover the disgusting
sexting that was the downfall of our
so-called civilization. But when they uncover the more
elegant half of our species, they will find an archive containing
the best literature that humankind ever devised. They will read
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets
from the Portuguese, XLIII: "How do I love thee? Let
me count the ways..." And they will be reduced to
do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
love thee to the depth and breadth and height
soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
love thee to the level of every day's
quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
love thee with a passion put to use
my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
love thee with a love I seemed to lose
my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
shall but love thee better after death."
And the alien
archeologists will write in their journals: "The human race
showed great potential artistically, sociologically and technologically,
but devolved near the end. Their thumbs got in the way."