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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Terminally Distracted

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So what DOES it all mean? I suppose we could concentrate on any number of departures with this very open ended question(and thanks Pat Madrid for reminding us of this You Tube blast); like our appetite for technology, our shifting population, our growing educational needs for the new generation, time travel or war of the worlds. The scariest one was the prediction that by the year 2049 that a computer costing a grand would exceed the computational capabilities of the entire human species. (I wonder if it's a pc or a Mac?) But where my mind seems to drift is the conclusion that we have again fallen asleep; or have been drugged. Drugged by too much volume, too much sensory input, too much data. Example: Bloomburg TV. Several years ago I commented to Ron how silly the TV screen looked with their myriad of floating factoids and latest breaking news stories littering up the entire viewing space. I could barely make out the dude's nose on his face let alone follow a particular storyline. Now everybody's caught on. So long Sonny Elliot.

Sports. When I was a kid, we used to go watch the Tigers play in Tiger Stadium. An outing to Corktown consisted of a 40min drive downtown; 2 hours worth of trying to locate a parking place and finding a seat in a noisy crowded stadium on a squeaky, wooden spring-loaded seat. Baseball players played 9 innings (or more) on a grass field in an open-air stadium. You ate hotdogs, peanuts or crackerjax. Sometimes it rained. If you wanted a souvenir, you waited patiently until the game was over and walked to the car. On your way, you could buy a pennant, a cap or batter's helmet or a rabbit's foot. Today, there are over 40 vendors inside a domed baseball "cathedral" with shops, valets, ATM machines. We are entertained by choirs, singers, cheerleaders, floating mini-blimps; air guns that shoot clothes out of their muzzles, quad-riding mascots and fireworks. We sit our butts on cozy padded seats drinking sodas the size of a small bathtub or perhaps we watch from a restaurant or penthouse suite. Oh, and did I mention that the game was apparently not interesting enough so there's a jumbo-tron loaded with Bloombergesque stats to make sure we don't lose interest in the....what were we watching?

Music. Old school: Pine Knob outdoor concert...Eric Clapton dressed in a white suit, sitting on a simple stool, strumming a six string and singing. A thing of beauty. New School: TranSiberian Orchestra. A literal sensory smorgasbord. Lasers, fire, water, aerial acrobats, videos, snow, narrator, a 6-person symphony, choir, guitars, drums, 2 pianos and a keyboard and a synthetic violin. And I saw people walking in with earplugs already in their ears.

Do you see what I'm seeing here?

My house as a kid: 1 TV, no remote, rabbit ears that rarely worked, 1 rotary phone, 1 transistor radio used for 1 news station...WJR usually on when a storm was approaching to let us know if we needed to take cover from a tornado. My house as a mom: 5 TVs, 4 computers, 1 laptop, 8 (yes eight!) phone numbers and I have no idea how many radios & music-making devices we have around here. Have we gone loopy? Do we really need so many distractions? From what are we being distracted? I have an idea. Ourselves? Thinking in general? Let's go back to the video...the question was asked: To whom did we used to ask these questions? There were 2 possible answers in the old school: ourselves and God. There are too many answers in the new school, but I'm starting to wonder if our new God is not named Google.

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