Firstly I'd like to apologise for the shocking lack of content that has been uploaded recently. A bout of coincidental joint laziness seems to have struck me and Aaron at the same time, possibly due to the fact that Christmas has created this safe zone of holiday and resting where we can escape the madness of our own everyday lives. I was happy to follow Aaron into this safe zone before realising that I, since having now graduated from University and not actually working feverishly everyday to achieve deadlines that actually matter in anyway, really have nothing to escape from. Office work is nice in that sense because as long as you do an inoffensively small amount of work then you'll just be left alone. I suppose it's kind of the same at University where Aaron lies, since no teacher will ever come to your house to shout at you so you're always competing against your own failure. In an office however, you've already sunk into that failure and so can rest easy and drift along down it's joyless road.
Of course Simon will never post anything again. Not in holiday time, work time or any time until the very end of time.
Of course for the last few days I did have one reason why I didn't publish anything, mostly for the fact that I went away on a short getaway with my other half to the city of Rome. If you would like a short review of Rome then I can tell you that it's pretty amazing, complete with an amazing monument to trip over every few metres and restaurants that stay open until the early hours overflowing with delicious real Italian food and cheap litres of wine. Since it was a gift for someone else though it did come at the expense of me buying a PS4 for myself, which is not only the biggest first world conundrum there ever was, but is also not a great loss since due to the distinct lack of games out for it at the moment, it seems like a trip to Rome will give me a lot more entertainment hours than that console ever could. For the foreseeable future at least, at which point I'll be annoyed again.
But whilst in Rome, although surrounded by all the ancient wonder that inhabits that city, it was only a matter of time before my eyes snatched upon the shittier modern aspects that have now wormed there way in. I'm not trying to sound like a pretentious arsehole there as much as it might seem. Anything that's been given to us through our recent segment of life is obviously amazing and has undoubtedly made our lives easier and better. I'm an optimistic futurist. I'm just not an optimistic humanist. I don't even mean that in a grand calamity way; like human nature will cause technology to become corrupted and that we'll all end up stuck in some 1984-esque constantly under surveillance society, living in misery whilst the nuclear bombs drop just over the city walls that contain us like animals. I mean that human nature will always ruin technology and the world in the most bland and boring ways.
When we got into the city, I don't know why, maybe it was simply a matter of me not thinking about it or simply that I had a sudden shot of retardedness but I didn't expect to see so many smart phones around. Maybe it was because the last time I visited Italy was when I went to the South, which isn't nearly as affluent as the North and so I just assumed the whole country was pretty consistent all the way up.
But no, there they were all around, held up in front of everyone's faces as they tried desperately to capture the monuments and people and themselves that were plonked right there in front of them for them to enjoy right there and then, but instead choose to stare at through a lens and waste all of their time; instead of walking round a lovely ruin with their friends talking and enjoying it. Instead, they just document it for some imaginary time where they'll rifle through all of that junk.
As you can tell I'm not someone that really takes pictures. A phone on holiday is mostly useless since its always in airplane mode and other than the odd picture or using the hotel Wifi to work out where I'm going, I see no point in using the thing. It's nice to not have to interact with anyone other than the people you bought along and the locals (all done in your own language, but shouted along with obnoxious hand gestures for the locals obviously). But it wasn't just the picture takers with their phones out all the time. In every restaurant we went to, between families, with friends and on occasion even a few dates, there they were. People tapping away aimlessly ignoring the person next to them. In the interim between sitting down at the place, a brief chat with the waiter to ask for the food, they sat there staring at all the meaningless shit that flashed across there screens as they swiped away at it all with their clawing thumb.
Most restaurants were advertising either free Wifi or Wifi that you can rent out and as soon as you got inside you could see the immediate effect of it. People were not getting on their mobiles, and this wasn't even the tourists who needed the safety net of the internet to find their way around. So many dates where the couple sat invested in their mobiles and I just couldn't work out why they don't leave? Why do you even order if it's fallen apart that quickly? What would people have done in the past, just stare absent mindedly at the wall or just talk to the waiter? Why not just get up and go if it's really fallen apart that quickly?
Or most likely just have a dull conversation about how good each other's food is. I'm guessing why this is why there's so many courses, simply so that people have something to say at multiple junctures.
In many ways I can respect this. The idea that if you're bored you take an Übermensch approach and live the way you want; getting your phone out and delving into your own little private world amidst the general public. But on the other is this really the attitude of people who are taking control of their lives or simply just an attitude of laziness. Yes, everyone knows the internet is very entertaining and with endless content it'll bring immediate pleasure to anyone that accesses it. But is that really the self fulfilling thought that they think about before they click the little button on the top of their rectangle to light it up and shut them down, or is it simply rude and just a lack of caring to invest the time into having a conversation.
Maybe if you feel this way at all times, around partners and family members and most worryingly friends; maybe you should just not hang out with those people. If you're really living to your own individual goals and doing what you want, then why are you even out with these people that you're ignoring. Why not just stay at home, or better yet, have simply gone out with the people who you're chatting to over Facebook who seem to be infinitely more interesting than who you're with.
This attitude is worse than the endless picture taking. I don't agree with that so much but people are at least still interacting with something outside of their phones and at least photography is a worthy skill to try out when you have the chance, more worthy at least than looking at shit memes on Facebook or just tapping away mindlessly at the Kwik e Mart in the Simpsons Tapped Out for the thousandth time.
That holiday was the last one I went on that really cemented in my mind just how much of a problem people aimlessly staring at their phones is, not even aware that they're doing it. It's spread so far around the globe Kevin Bacon and EE are happy to talk about it in an offhand way now.
I saw someone post a picture on Facebook of one person jumping around whilst the rest of the crowd she was in were on their phones. “That's so true” she had written, not knowing that she was one of the people who would be in that crowd.
How many meals with my family do I have to sit through with them staring at their phones, whilst I sit there and eventually try to leave, only to be told not to because “we're having fun”. Having fun playing on our mobiles separately without the slightest care or awareness of what anyone else in the room might be experiencing. That's a skill that people develop when their toddlers, the ability to separate their own experiences from others, but apparently we've reverted back on that one; now just a bunch of babbling babies smacking at our mobiles that once hung above our cribs but now sit firmly planted in our hands for us to stab away at.
But maybe I shouldn't care about this. Just ignore stupid people to do whatever stupid people want to do. They wouldn't be enjoying themselves anyway and clearly haven't for the millennia before human achievement to reach the point where they could become self invested in their own online life. So maybe we should just leave it. Sit in our own groups of people who actually care about having a conversation about something and laugh at them from across the room. Then as we get older we can try our best to teach our children the importance of a conversation, before eventually they just call us bullshit and old hat, that we don't understand anything, before sitting down into the newly released Apple consciousness machine, plugged right into the brain stem, where we can watch them rot away until our final days where we lie in bed, drugged up and sedated like the people we've always tried to avoid being our entire lives and leave the world with our last impression of everything that we saw in our time on Earth, as that of boredom and idle decay.
Happy New Years from What About Cynics