Television is dead. Thank God; what a freaking monstrosity. But it ain’t over yet, kids. Now we got Facebook.
Choose Your Own Adventure was pretty cool when you were little, reading a 50-page novel in size 14. (I never actually read those. Maybe you did.) But now, choice has become insidious. You still devour a steady diet of on-screen drama, but now it’s interactive. Want to see how a character (that is, that person you sort of used to know personally) reacts to another character (you)? Stir them up with an intelligent rebuttal to a lousy argument. Want some recognition, your own personal Emmys or Oscars or whatever-the-hell? Tweet your latest achievement or your social leveling-up. Unlock those new abilities, bro. And remember, it all happens under that soothing blue banner. (There’s a reason they chose blue and decided not to allow skins on profiles. Myspace mistake. Oh, Myspace…)
With the original boob tube, you could switch from channel to channel, from inferior to intellectual programming or from boring to entertaining. You could feed your superiority complex or your need for sedation, whichever malaise prevailed in your head. Now, you don’t even have to press buttons to change channels. You can just scroll. You can silently chuckle at other characters’ political opinions or the kinds of pages they Share from. (Real Amurricans for The Orgninla U S of A? Oh, lol) You can silently analyze the daily commission of grammatical, punctuational, and logical sins. You can construct your comments in perfect English or in ghetto-speak, as context or whim suggest. You can flaunt your intellectual muscle. You can surf from your self-absorbed friends to your philosophical friends to your funny friends. And you can go on categorizing, because isn’t that fun and easy?
Even better: if you have a hundred extra dollars a month, you can carry all this stuff around in your pocket. The cloud and your cloud-drama are only an unlocking swipe and a tap away. (I assume; I don’t have one of those thingies.) Rough day? Bring up that soothing blue-and-white newsfeed. Just got out of a stressful test? Bring it up. Bored at work, at a stoplight, or when sitting around with in-person friends? Bring it up, bro. Lol. Omg. Ttyl.
We are living in science fiction, and it has become science fact. But the repercussions are felt not only in an increased societal productivity and interconnectedness; paradoxically, they appear in increasing personal isolation, increasing screen-addiction, and an increasing disconnect from physical, emotional, and intellectual reality. It’ll be interesting to see how Generation Me acts in ten, twenty, thirty years. How will the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Facebook addict react to weMarriage, weJob, or weKids? Will we outgrow this crippling cloud-based narcissism, this daily adoration of digits? Or will our society collapse under this self-seeking isolationism?
Don’t even get me started on earbud-wearers and the dangers of walking or even standing next to them. Better take out an insurance policy on yourself.