Saturday, June 09, 2012
Nothing feels quite as good as vindication, especially when hordes of sycophants hurl invectives at a guy who's simply telling the truth. I have to admit, I get more than my share of verbal stones thrown my way. For example, I've never won any popularity contests for my perennial dismissal of Facebook as nothing more than a highly-charged novelty, played by venture capitalists as a "pump and dump" scheme on all same suckers who bought into Groupon. For me, it was hard to contain my glee as the world witnessed Facebook's initial public offering (IPO) sink slowly into the muck. And while I continue to believe Facebook will follow AOL's graceful arc into the meatgrinder, that's not why I'm writing today.
In case you haven't noticed, we live in a world obsessed with media. "Tell a lie often enough," the professional Nazi machine professed, "and people believe it to be true." These days, the media is possessed by a wild drive to be hip, cool and at the front of the line for every new fad and fashion, no matter the actual value of the fad or the toxicity of the fashion.
Take Apple, for example. Yes, that Apple. The one all your fanboys gush over like blushing schoolgirls. The one with billions in the bank but only recently with which decided to trickle dividends to shareholders.
I should tell you right here and now that I've been a Mac guy forever. I can also tell you that I won't be a Mac guy forever. Well, I'll keep using the stuff I have, but I certainly won't get sucked into anything past operating system 10.6.8. Because after that, it's not about Apple taking your business.
It's about Apple taking your soul.
That's right, while you -- and the rest of the world -- are asleep at the switch, you're ignoring how Apple is deconstructing your humanity, bit by bit, under the guise of media techno-hype. And if you doubt that at all, take thirty seconds to view this latest charmer from our friends in Cupertino and see if you can spot the fatal flaw:
There you have John Malkovich talking to his iPhone, which isn't all that strange. But what you may not have noticed is that Malkovich is all by himself. The machine -- in this case, Apple's Siri -- is the only interaction in his sparse, cold, lonely world. The man is holding a conversation with a chip set, and convincing himself it's a rewarding experience. And lest you dismiss this as some kind of anomaly, let me assure you it isn't. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg in the path of humanity's social Titanic:
Increasingly, people are confounded by true social interaction. They don't know what to say, when to say it or even to whom to say it. You can yack about illegal immigration all you want, artificial intelligence is literally the job killer. The media may be selling it as fabulous technology, but the truth is that Apple and its ilk are sucking the humanity out of your soul. Painlessly, conveniently crippling our society while increasing its dependence on their technologies.
Sure, I sound like your grandpa in his rocker on the porch, but believe me, there was a time when "boy meets girl" happened "the old fashioned way," where someone asked someone else for directions. Or ran into a shopper at the store. Or even rode to the eleventh floor with you on her way to the fifteenth.
Now all that romance, all those random chances are vanishing with a simple point and click.
The other day, someone asked me why I wear an analog wristwatch. After all, you can just pull out your cell phone to see what time it is. I told them I refused to be tied to an electronic leash. It's not about knowing the time any more. It's about asserting your humanity. Actually, it's about preserving your humanity before the next generation wonders what it was.
Next time you're tempted to ask Siri a question, ask yourself this: What color are her eyes?