Post XL

Birds and a Percentage vs. Me, Myself and I.

I’ll start my 40th post how I’ve started my previous 39. Am I the only one who thinks that all birds should be eradicated from the face of the Earth? Everyone goes on and on about how wonderful and graceful they are. They have striking colours and personalities. A voice that enriches the morning air. And they’re so beautiful. Well, to the people who believe any of that I ask this: what have you been smoking? Clearly, these are people who have never visited the UK and experienced being attacked by a flock of pigeons. I swear The Birds was a true story. What really grinds my cheese is when you’re having a lovely lie-in and the birds start harping off at five in the morning. My granddad used to disperse them with a loud bang generated from his air rifle. I want my sleep back. I propose an offensive against the diseased, inelegant, sarcastic, hussy scuzzrockets. Where’re the air rifles?

Talking of birds, I found out this week that 33% of the world is online. That got me thinking about what a phenomenal number that is. In 2000, that number was 6%. That’s a 27% rise. In 10 years, over half the world will be online. And here’s why that makes me sad.

I’m sure that when Antonio Meucci invented the telephone (look it up), he foresaw a phantasmagorical bundle of joy in his hands capable of uniting the world. That invention removed the need for mail, but it destroyed the livelihoods and families of millions who worked within that service. Then again, the telephone brought and kept people together. But those unable to capitalize were left with the pain of knowing that they could be so much closer to those they loved. Everyone could now talk to one another. But it was at the expense of vast green lands ruined by huge wooden poles and metal wires. And the society that it was meant to enliven has been made worse. The days of meeting up with someone for a drink to chat have all but gone. Now all you have to do is text them to talk. You really don’t need to meet up so much anymore. The telephone is a wonderful invention, but it’s come hand in hand with a new society that I think is worse than the one we had before. It could have been so much better, but instead, a whiff of societal degradation lingers in the air.

When Paul Nipkow, John Logie Baird and Philio Farnsworth laid the foundations for the invention of the television (look it up), they didn’t anticipate what it would become. Television has been shown to provide ‘social surrogacy’ – those of us who are lonely and deprived create a world in that box that prevents any sort of mental damage normally found in those of us without a social life, the lonely and the deprived. Works for me. Though I do really wish that the characters that I talked to wouldn’t interrupt the conversation to advertise cola. Imagine if that happened in a real conversation. “So Jon how’s the new baby?” “Oh, she’s doing well. Honestly, her smile is as refreshing as a cool can of cola – only 80p from all good retailers”. I think I would have gone crazy a long time ago if it weren’t for the Cathode. Some still maintain it hasn’t worked.

The television is also educational, apparently, but presumably the parents who rely solely on that are also the ones who think it’s alright to put jeans, makeup and jewellery on their babies, too. It’s much better to take them to the park, the farm, the countryside, the beach – etcetera. You don’t learn by sitting in front of the electric fireplace. Texture, sight, smell and touch, fundamentals that are vanishing because of the TV. It’s not all that’s vanishing: good health is going only to be replaced with obesity. Some even suggest it’s causing increased violence and mental difficulties. I think people have forgotten there’s a big wide world out there. It was labelled as a new dawn, but all we have now are £500 robbery targets hinged to our walls. Methinks the words ‘societal degradation’ is springing to mind.

So what of the World Wide Web, invented by a Brit called Sir Tim Berners-Lee (good thing he wasn’t called something stupid like Lord Sir Sugar – look it up). It’s always confused me. It straddles that line betwixt laziness and usefulness. Kinda like me. We have people typing away, checking their emails, faffing around doing this, that the other. It’s wonderful that people are connected, find similar minds, find an outlet for themselves and have a whole world at their fingertips. But then you ponder questions like ‘is Google replacing the brain?’ I was going to ask if anyone thinks society can retain some of its pre-internet life, but I fear the answer may already be ‘no’. But then again, change will always be inevitable.

“What exactly is the internet? Basically, it is a global network exchanging digitized data in such a way that any computer, anywhere, that is equipped with a device called a ‘modem’, can make a noise like a duck choking on a kazoo”, said American author, columnist and humorist David Barry. I can’t think why I love that quote so much.

Peace Out :|:


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