Crazy Talk

I came home really tired one afternoon recently after staring at a computer monitor for several hours and having had one of “those” days. Karen attempted to engage me in conversation a couple of times over the course of the next hour while I basically stared blankly out into space for a bit. Then, fully decompressed, I was able to re-engage with family life and be active for the rest of the evening. I told her that I had needed time to “re-boot.”

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how we apply technological terms to our biological and social functions? There are several geeky tech references that our family members tend to make to each other in moments like that: how not being able to grasp something means you need a software update, or how not paying attention during what someone else was saying means that you had logged off. These are terms with which we have all become very familiar because of the tools that drive our daily lives, and so we apply them to moments that we have during those daily lives as a sort of common vernacular to explain things that are otherwise difficult to explain.

We are, after all, proud of our technology. We conceived of it, designed it, and built it. Well, not us specifically, but we feel that we all have bragging rights because our culture did this…sort of how we say that “we” put a man on the moon. It’s not difficult to see that we are so proud of it…choices of tablet devices and smartphones are elevated to news-worthy discussion, and we make personality judgements about people based upon whether they use, for example, an iPhone, Android or Windows phone. Different types of personalities have structured these different devices and types of operating systems, and so similar personality types tend to gravitate toward one or the other (something that Karen and I immediately had in common, for example, was that we are both Mac users…and this actually gave us important hints about each other’s personalities).

So, after necessarily crafting this technical jargon to accompany the innovations that we’ve created, we then integrated those innovations so completely into our lives that we have found ourselves borrowing the jargon and generalizing it to other areas of life, as well. We are, after all, created as creators, and thus we endear ourselves to our creations.

This isn’t a surprise. Language is our primary means of communicating, and we adapt our language to accommodate what is most important to us. The things we’ve built…or created…are important. Ask any painter, writer, or musician…that stuff comes from your soul, and you’re proud of it. Likewise with our amazing and progressive innovations. When we say that we need a “re-boot” because we’re tired, that’s only reflecting the brave new world that we’ve raised around ourselves.

Something that is as exciting as it is occasionally disconcerting.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

If there’s anything that marks the age in which we live (does that make me sound as old as I think it does…?), its the pervasiveness and ease with which we can access whatever information we choose. Random questions can be searched and answered on the spot, weather forecasts can be immediately known, music and books instantly available. And, while we’ve come to take it for granted, I can recall when being able to have a phone conversation in my car was a new and wondrous luxury, and I really appreciate the amazing progress we’ve made as a society.

That said, reading this today gave me pause. Its not that the concept of crowd-sourcing one’s medical condition isn’t a really phenomenal idea…it is. And, certainly, this writer seems to have received positive results by doing so. What’s more, I think that its the natural evolution of (dare I use such a cliche term as) the information age. Though I’m moving out of the health care field, I’ve seen the constant movement over the last decade of transitioning all record-keeping to digital format, and I don’t think that one must be a futurist to see this as an easy extension of that.

Pushing aside for a moment how privacy laws will struggle to evolve at a reasonable enough pace to accommodate something like this, though, I had a moment of strong push-back after my initial positive reaction to reading this. While certainly none of us are islands, I also think that there’s such a thing as too much input from too many people. With the thought of publicly airing my medical history, I reach that thresh-hold pretty quickly in my head.

Part of me sees this as a great use of our technological capabilities to seek expert advice from those that we would not otherwise be able to contact. Part of me screams in fear that this will become yet another privacy-wrenching expectation of the “extrovert ideal” that dominates our cultural functioning.

And, part of me wonders if, God forbid, I ever were to receive similar news, I wouldn’t pursue any option available, including some version of this very strategy.

This brave new world of ours just keeps getting more interesting, doesn’t it?

“Angel”

Almost since I first began placing words on paper, I’ve been struck by how stunningly ¬†beautiful the word “angel” is in it’s sound. Something about the way it slides from the lips of the speaker to grace the air and our ears with its sound…the way it points to something so peaceful…makes it possibly the most amazing word that I can imagine.¬†

That Creeping Blackness

I’ve written a lot about the uniquely American tradition that is Black Friday over and over again here…I doubt my opinion on the consumerist pseudo-holiday is any secret. Usually I’m inspired to write about it just after the insanity has ended and the stories begin to run about the atrocities that were committed in the name of getting a bargain. However, it appears that “Black Friday creep” is all the rage among big retail businesses this year, so I guess I’ll let the posting begin early, as well.

It’s so comforting to know that our national ethics are in such a strong state. After all, profit is the most worthy of goals, and thus must supersede the basic treatment of employees as human beings as all worship at the polytheistic altars of money and consumerism. Don’t you agree?

I’ve avoided Black Friday for a long time, and this year will be no different. I certainly can name the stores that I will intentionally not visit this Friday, thanks to the media coverage of their poor decision to rob employees of their dignity of being able to spend time with their families.

The irony of the situation is that Thanksgiving is not currently a holiday with any religious affiliation, so, were we to choose a holiday that culturally could be universal without regard to the religious affiliations of many citizens, this would be the day. Yet corporate profits are so precious that we can’t allow even that one day with family to be guaranteed. And, honestly, it’s not like the basest of our human desires don’t already cause all of these retail stores to make a proverbial killing in profit on that day. Moving sales up a few hours is simply the underbelly of greed.

My sincere hope is that the retail stores that are open tomorrow in anticipation of beginning Friday’s sales early find themselves in a deficit of customers, as that is the only language that they appear to speak. I earnestly hope that they lose money this year, and are able to trace it to the fact that they didn’t care about the family lives of their employees.

And, unfortunately, I’ll likely be doing yet another post about someone being injured or arrested or in some other way humiliated as people fight for a deal on Friday morning. Or perhaps tomorrow. I don’t look forward to hearing about it.

And I certainly won’t be any sort of participant in it.