Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No Touching

Our feet never touch the ground. (This is not a poetic wonder, but a literal truth.)

We went from levers that move things, to that wheels attach to things that they turn, to buttons that start mechanical actions that make it so we don't have to move, to virtual buttons that we can't even feel when we "push" them (even though they are programmed to make a patronizing little "click" sound), to projections on a desktop.

We never hold a letter in our hands; we rarely weild a pencil; we read books made up of light, on little plastic devices.

We can't trust photographs anymore.

Even our own lives, appearences and actions are chopped into bits and laid out on the social media buffet in ways that make them seem more interesting.

When everything becomes virtual, what will be left to hold onto?

Each other? No -- we're not allowed to touch each other anymore. Teachers can't hug their weeping little students; a kind-hearted and harmless adult can't hold the hand of a little lost child to bring him or her to the amusement park office, all for fear of misunderstanding because of the perverse actions of a few. We're not allowed to touch each other anymore without express permission, no matter how generic the contact. (Even a pat on the shoulder along with a "good job" ot the wrong person could land us in court.)

No. No touching.

At least we can retreat into music and listen to virtual instruments whose phrases are programmed in in "step time" -- all in a composition created on a computer program in with "plug-ins" that create the environment for the virtual instruments to make them sound like they are in a "large, deep, echoing concert hall" and with vocal performances that were digitally altered to perfect the intonation of the singer and to fatten his voice to make it sound more full.

Every morning, as we wake up to a feast of eggs that stink of antibiotics*, there is a ghostly hope that something real will happen, so we head off to work, where we do some kind of job that accomplishes invisible tasks, during which we will dream of what it must have been like to have been a callous-handed wheelwright in a dusty Western town where men still made eye contact with ladies and touched the brims of their hats in deferential greeting.

(*Eat organic eggs for awhile and then get the regular kind and you  will be shocked.)

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