Monday, June 13, 2005

The 100th Monkey

Has anyone noticed that our society's obsession with technological progress is utterly, and wholly, taking the joy out of life and devouring our souls? It's so apparent, and we keep marching, like lemmings, toward a very near future totally sanitized of all culture and connection.

I have always felt a sort of odd nostalgia for the future, a kind of retro-futurism deep in my soul. I spent a remarkable amount of my younger life daydreaming of a future sculpted by the mid-century imaginations of Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Niemeyer and Walt Disney. I couldn't wait for progress and technology to move us all into a sleekly designed, organically balanced, ultimately connected tomorrowland, just as the past had promised.

For a very short time, in the very early '90s, the future was in San Francisco. The whole city seemed connected, 100th monkey-style, to a cyberdelic, entheogenic, utopian tomorrow. A lost boy's daydream come true.

But now, daydreams of the future have turned into nightmares of anxiety. The promise of progress has failed us, but we won't admit it. The information age has become the isolation age, as we cower more and more behind our technology, avoiding real contact because we're just too tired. Too tired from programming our cell phones, palm pilots and iPods. Everyone is angry. All the time. All the time, and still we need more time. Our society is overwhelmed with easily retrieved and meaningless information. Art and culture have become just as easily retrieved and meaningless, and it doesn't matter much because no one has time to think about expression anyway.

Knowing what I know now, I've let go of my nostalgia for the future. Maybe the future happened in the 1970s. Technology had evolved to the point of making life easy enough, without obscuring its own purpose. Connection with others was easier and more natural, while art and culture were earned and vital. Blackberrys, e-mails and TiVo have not brought any joy to our lives (ok, maybe TiVo), but still we cling to them as if they somehow really create more time. Technology has become maddeningly counterproductive with no future in sight.


hofzinser said...


A* said...

If you posted more, I would love you more.

Hee hee...

Your writing makes me GREEN with envy. Want to write something together??

VegasGustan said...

Well said. I too have fallen victim to technology. Case in point, tonight is the big Vegas Rocks 100 concert featuring Weezer and the Chili Peppers and I am sitting on my rump leaving you a comment instead of interacting. Why? Because I did not want to deal with the crowd. I suck. Oh well. Good read none the less.