Friday, 1 March 2013

The death of society as represented by a five-year old

I'm horrified to see that a small child has managed to rack up a £1,500 credit card bill by playing Zombies vs Aliens on some kind iPad. Apparently the game is free to download, but you can spend a small fortune buying bombs and things with which to kill the virtual critters. 

The ITV news took us into the front room of the very 5-year old whose computer addiction had caused the problem. The little boy was, of course, completely engrossed in another computer game whilst the adults chatted around him. He spoke in grunts and didn't seem that fussed about what had happened, or the mess he'd caused. In fact, he didn't seem to be that fussed about anything other than staring into his iPad. Lost in an alternate world of zombies.

Question. Does this little boy have a function? What is he giving back to society? I know he's only five and has plenty of time to turn into a proper human being, but right now he's a modern version of Mike TV from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I suspect few people would care, or in fact notice, if he were dragged permanently into cyber space to live with his only friends. The world he is occupying, almost full-time, is as real to him as his front room.  

And that got me thinking about the inanity and actual outright danger of things like twitter. A whole generation of people seems to place greater value on the opinion of those we meet in cyber space instead of those made of flesh and blood who live next door. I'm as guilty of vanishing into my computer as the next man.  We all get freaked out by the weirdo on the bus who wants to talk, and we accuse people of being boring  or "too intense" if they want to discuss philosophy or fine art. There's no point in debating the meaning of something in depth. That wastes time; get on your iPhone and see what wiki says! Discussion over. 

Meanwhile we genuinely think that people are going to be interested in a 130-character ungrammatical grunt about what we had for dinner or why Librans are always unlucky in love. We "un-friend" people who don't tell us what we want to hear, accusing them of being bitches even when they're actually proving they genuinely care. Who cares? There are always more cyber friends who'll listen to the whinging and say how shit life is rather than telling you the truth; that you need to pull yourself together, because ultimately very few people will care if you live or die. 

Society changes, of course, but this is the reason why people I talk to on estates say how they miss the olden days, "the days when doors didn't get slammed in your face. The days when you went to see your neighbours when you felt down." 

How do we get these days back?

The worrying thing in all of this is that we're running at high speed to a place where we cease to value life itself. Computers will always be able to tell us what we want to hear, so let's live in a little bubble with one, and that weird woman on the bus who talks too much will never bore us again. 

But life is cyclic. Living in bubbles will cause the break down of Society, which itself will lead to the destruction of all material goods. And at that stage we might re-engage our imaginations and actually be grateful for the distracting musings of the woman on the bus. Except we won't be on a bus because fossil fuel will have run out and busses won't exist! 

And so to bed. 

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