Mark A. Carter
 

SEXTING and the New Dark Age

World famous Canadian Science Fiction novelist Mark A. Carter rants about sexting, texting, and the New Dark Age.

Woe unto humanity for the New Dark Age is upon us. We are devolving. And there shall be much crying, gnashing of teeth, and wringing of hands.

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, baby.

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.

 
Keep using your thumbs the way they were never intended, and you will develop Texting Thumb Syndrome.

Calculators did 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.

But everything 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 get Pollexspasms?

Moreover, everything 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.

Digital photos 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?

Literature, writing, 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?

Imagine this 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.

Alien archeologists, 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 tears.

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of every day's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,

I 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."

Read: Antisocial
Bug-Eyed Monsters
Recycling
Social Media

Now you know.

from the imagination of Mark A. Carter - novelist

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