APPocalypse Now

by PAUL LAO
edited by ANDREW HICKS

Separate issue: Does the easy availability of stock photographs from Google Image create laziness and unoriginality?

Imagine this scene — a family, all with individual gadgets, is at the dinner table. The father has the paper, the mother is looking at a television in the living room, the son is playing a Nintendo DS, and the daughter is texting her best friend. Lines are drawn, and as their heads move, the lines follow. No one is making eye contact.

And then something horrifying happens: a baby cries, and the mother nonchalantly walks into the bedroom where Shrek is rolling end credits, picks the baby up and brings little Timothy into the kitchen. She totally forgot him!

This is a nuclear family’s by-numbers delusional progress via “family time.” A boy who sleeps for 16 hours a day, never has had a girlfriend and never leaves the house. A girl who misses her soulmate because she is too busy texting her best friend about how horrible her day was, complaining that no one pays attention to her. A father who has had the same an office job for 17 years and never gotten a promotion because of his fear of responsibility. And a mother who does the bare minimum of parenting because her mother took care of the first two while she was in high school.

People, this is one of my greatest fears. We have reached an age in which iPhone applications fill the void of life but consume our ability to imagine.

God bless sports, right? Wrong. Because, yes, many children do have parents who live vicariously through their children, but only one of 16,000 will make it as professional athletes. What about high-school athletes? Well, those that don’t go on to college tend to take a trade job. Normally, their parents find employment for them, and a very few start a successful business. However, the big strong dumb ones are dumb as a result of coasting through school on their athleticism. But you know their best years were in high school, crammed full of undeserved sex and adolescent debauchery.

Okay, what about those who do make it to college.? Well, the college dropout rate is 30 percent before their first year through, and 50 percent before the second. But no one seems to examine the pitfalls of the money-making juggernaut known as university education.

Textbooks, predatory credit-card sign-ups, pyramid schemes (personal anecdote to follow), poor diet, energy drinks, cable television, small living quarters, promiscuity from both genders, binge drinking, drugs, loud neighbors, uninviting study areas, roommate disputes, jobs, mandatory reading that quickly turns optional, test anxiety, allnighters, class scheduling, the Internet, the groups program, etc. etc.

In the first Matrix movie, the original program to be used on humans was rejected because it wasn’t “real” enough. I disagree. I watched an 85-year-old man pop balloons on an iPhone app for an hour and a half while I waited at a casting agency. I stood there wondering, If he dies like this, will his kids be doing the same thing at his funeral? Is this how you spend your last days? And who am I to judge? He’s not in a nursing home, at least. But then for me, the bigger issue was, How long do you excuse the ignorance paving the road tp societal regression?

We live in a world of codependence. A baker bakes bread to feed the carpenter who makes homes for the mayor who taxes the community to pay the salary of a police officer who protects the baker. I’m not preaching communism or the triumph of the common man, but as we know from history, inventions sometimes happen by accident. And the innovators and people who work hard at their jobs move our society along. But what about the distractions that we put in our own way on that road? And what about the downtime spent while waiting for a cab or just sitting on the porch on a beautiful summer day? Is our need for entertainment so great that we let it dominate our lives?

Sometimes we need to be bored.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This post soon available on the WNF iPad app. Just kidding. We don’t know how to do that shit.]

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