Wiley Miller hits a truth in today’s Non Sequitur (AMS): We’ve reached a level of solipsism where not only is everything about me, but everything is a conspiracy against me.
My sister expressed it as “Everybody always be’s mean to me,” a cute toddler phrase that was promptly hung on her for the rest of her life, or, at least, until she went away to college.
It was cute when she was three, and it remained funny because she outgrew it.
Others have not.
Worse, the attitude has metastasized into a level of self-centered cruelty that must surely, as Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal suggests, be intentional, because nobody could be this obnoxious without a genuine effort.
I say that realizing that there are people whose lack of social skills are not their fault, and that the anonymity of the Internet offers them a respite from the burden of behaving decently in the three-dimensional world.
But I also remember the snide know-it-alls from college who endlessly explained how to fix civilization, usually at two in the morning in the sophomore dorm. By junior year, they had outgrown it, because, in them thar days, they didn’t have social media to coddle them and nobody in real life wanted to listen to them anymore.
I spent much of the weekend snoozing such people on Facebook, which turned my feed into a much more pleasant place, but means it will explode 30 days hence as they all come back with their negativity and self-assured expertise.
Well, I’m operating a two-strike league, so we’ll see.
All of which is an explanation for why I’m not tackling politics today, where such attitudes reign supreme.
Juxtaposition of the Day
I resisted smartphones for a long time, but if you don’t get into the habit of needing to constantly talk to someone while you buy groceries or walk the dog, the pester-factor is self-regulating: You don’t get calls from people who likewise just need to hear voices.
And I much prefer a full-sized screen and a full-sized keyboard, so I haven’t built up the walk-and-surf habit either.
But, like Pig, I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore, and I’d add that I suspect a lot of people don’t know where they are anymore, either, because they’ve become reliant on their phones to tell them how to get places.
Which makes “couldn’t find his ass on a map” less an insult than a prophecy.
I don’t blame the phones themselves. We lost a lot of our auditory memory skills when sound recordings became available; People at the turn of the century could attend a vaudeville and know the songs, or at least the best ones, when they left the theater. And, of course, there are entire cultures bound by oral tradition.
Or at least there were.
As this Moderately Confused (AMS) notes, we’re in danger of not even having a written tradition.
It starts with the loss of archives: No more sheaf of last year’s letters from a friend, and biographers in the future are going to have to be electronic engineers to trace our lives.
But not only will our letters disappear, but they aren’t much worth reading now, not because of abbreviations but, as in the cartoon, an acceptance that near-enough-is-good-enough and that a tossed off half-sentence is as good as a thoughtful paragraph.
And, in our developing Idiocracy, that an animated gif of that girl in the aqua top doing a spit-take qualifies as wit.
Though today’s Prickly City (AMS) can be answered with a more extended and genuinely witty bit of electronic humor from 20 years ago, proving that the classics never go out of style. (You’ve seen it, but you’ll watch it again)
And on the topic of everything old being new again, Loose Parts (WPWG) makes a joke about plastic leather that will be new to half the country but sends us old folks into a fit of nostalgia:
You can read the rest of this write-up here, and you can even purchase your own Nauga Monster here, though they’re no longer a dollar.
In this Macanudo (KFS), Liniers turns down the chance to exploit his art for vast profits, unless he plans to go full-irony on us and create an NFT that declares itself not an NFT.
I’m sure you can’t funge it, but I’m guessing that the people most likely to buy it would probably want to pay you in bitcoins.
Which reminds me of the old Sufi story of the cook in the bazaar furiously demanding that a beggar pay for standing nearby and smelling his stew.
The wise imam intervenes and says he’ll pay, then jingles his purse, offering the sound of coins for the smell of food.
Now let’s drop tech issues entirely with this Grand Avenue (AMS).
The park I take my dog to isn’t really a dog park. It’s simply a mile-long riverside park, part playing fields, part picnic grounds, part forest.
We got a section set aside as a no-leash zone, but we walk our mostly well-trained pups unbound through the whole thing. There are a few Almira Gulch types who complain, but, if the police respond at all, it’s with semi-stern warnings and an occasional doggy cookie.
We started coming there after Hurricane Irene wiped out our formal dog park, and the cops and parks people know that our presence has led to a dramatic drop in both litter and drug dealing there.
More municipalities should get a clue.
Wallace the Brave (AMS) is often old-school, and literally today, since some kids are starting back this week, which is an abomination.
School should end at Memorial Day and restart at Labor Day, though I suppose that is a throwback to Free Range Kids who not only knew how to amuse themselves but preferred to, as noted in this update:
I particularly enjoy the way the gang teases Amelia out of her annoying attitude. The Peanuts gang never stood up to Lucy like that.
Finally, Brevity (AMS) either makes me feel old, or perhaps that Dan Thompson never studied classical music.
The kids ain’t got no culture.
12 thoughts on “CSotD: Attempting to lower the tech a bit”
Makes me sad to think there are people who have never heard of Ray Stevens — especially cartoonists.
“My chair is upholstered in real naugahyde;
When they killed that nauga,
I sat down and cried!
(He moved to Chicauga when that nauga died.)”
–Allan Sherman and chorus, “Chim Chim Cheree,” driving down memory lane with a tankful of Platformate (R).
Friend of mine had a stuffed Nauga that he found at a thrift shop. The furniture stores displayed them for a while in the 60s. You could tell when it was from by its resemblance to the art in Hi-Brow or Hallmark cards of the day.
Gitarzan was one of the 45s I bought at Arlans for 29 cents (these bargain disks always had a hole drilled through the paper of the label, as well, reminiscent of stripped comics or paperbacks), making it among the first record purchases I made, apart from at thrift shops. I memorized it then, and still drill myself on the lyrics from time to time, because it’s so important.
“Couldn’t find his ass with an app.”
I had “Gitarzan” on an LP with other classics like “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” “The Purple People Eater,” “Please Mister Custer,” “Ahab the Arab,” and others I can’t recall at the moment.
Why yes, I did listen to Dr. Demento, why do you ask?
And speaking of Dr. D, that’s where I first heard this stirring tribute to that shining exemplar of a Free Press, The Weekly World News:
Remember, they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true!
I’m not so sure about the “danger of not even having a written tradition”, or even the loss of our archives. On the contrary, are archives are richer than the past ever could have dreamed of. The caches of letters that historians find are only composed of whatever the letter receiver bothered to keep, if they decided to keep it at all, and if it didn’t rot inside whatever basement it was found in. You can rest assured knowing that Google or whoever else is managing your texting app of choice holds onto every single message you send, and that the problem of future biographers won’t be a matter of finding too little, but finding too much. As for the degradation of the written word — people aren’t expressing less information through text than before, they’re just finding a way to express it in a shorter amount of time. People didn’t write in lengthy paragraphs back when they were sending letters just because they wanted to sound nice. It’s because if the letter receiver misunderstood them, it could be months of letters passed between each other before that misunderstanding might be resolved. Typos are pain, and having an entire generation get used to typing on a new style of keyboard only exacerbates their presence, but as for abbreviations or shortened sentences, it’s just the evolution of language at play in a brand new medium.
Abraham, I’d argue “yes and no.” Absolutely, a tremendous amount of material is being created and archived online, and separating wheat from chaff is already an enormous challenge.
But how much of that will endure? As I recently wrote elsewhere, I can look at a 200-year-old drawing or a 20,000-year-old cuneiform, and they’re as sharp as the day they were made. On the other hand, I have writer and artist friends who have lost work they did just 15 or 20 years ago because the word processing program or storage medium they used is obsolete (anybody got a Zip drive?). Paintings from the Renaissance will still be viewable centuries after anyone remembers how to decode a JPG.
My fear is that future historians are going to see our history, art, literature, entertainment, and history vanish over the edge of a digital cliff.
Surviving paintings from the Renaissance will still be viewable, provided they’ve been properly cared for and haven’t fallen apart or gone completely black from shellac, or been blunderlingly ‘restored,’ or were painted with unstable compounds or methods to begin with (see Leonardo).
The excellent coffee-table book The Lost Museum is a glimpse of how many things are gone, and we’re able to know about them from copies made by other artists, or photos, or descriptions.
If everything from earlier ages had survived, we’d be hard-pressed to find a place for all of it, I dare say.
And the Mona Lisa will crumble into wood splinters….
And Pompeii and Herculaneum will be reburied when Vesuvius next blows in 9347 AD….
And the Pyramids will erode into dust….
And the remains of Apollo 11 on the Moon will be battered into a heap of metal dust by a billion years of micrometeorites.
I think it’s well understood that everything is eventually ephemeral. Nothing lasts forever. But I’d bet a billion bucks that the Mona Lisa will last centuries longer than any piece of digital artwork, entertainment or literature created to date.
“In time, The Rockies may crumble, Gibralter may tumble
They’re only made of clay…”
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