Have Our Lives Become Boring?
††††††††††† Last year at this
time, many predicted that Y2K-induced computer error would plunge the world
into violent anarchy and unprecedented cable tv
service disruptions.†† Others dismissed
the doomsayers and tritely opined that the New Millennium would be a time of
"hope" and "excitement."††
Still others zealously argued that the ďrealĒ Millennium wouldnít begin
††††††††††† The first two groups were wrong.† By pedantically missing the point, the third group underscores my point.† We have experienced a† meltdown .† But rather than an easily observable cataclysm when the clock struck midnight, which the media could have identified and reported in the conventional manner, this change has creeped in on little catís feet over several decades.† And itís even more pernicious than all the damage predicted for Y2K.†
Our world has entered a period of great boredom caused by relentless human control freakism.† Over 15 million Americans are on anti-depressants.† Itís no wonder.... because there is no wonder.†
You may say, ďNah.† People arenít bored.† Thereís new stuff being made and done all the time.Ē†
Sure, there have been and will be new inventions and businesses.† But most of them will serve one fundamental purpose: to remove surprise from the human experience.† Much of this future is already here.
Except for some photo op motifs, nature has been largely beaten
into submission.† There are very few truly wild areas.† Most farms are
boring monocultures managed by computers and corporations. Most forests
have been logged, most shorelines developed and most wetlands filled.
Those that remain are carefully managed.
Every aspect of life-- from conception to burial-- has been
studied, engineered, commercialized and franchised.† Livestock managers
boast of control "from semen to cellophane."† Human life management
increasingly follows this trend.† McKids are created in test tubes in
franchised fertility outlets and/or are genetically screened so defective
babies can be "terminated."† Soon, some say, babies will be affirmatively
Once produced, these precious commodities are fed appropriate amounts of "formula" on schedule.† Later, play dates will be arranged.† In adulthood, gene tests† tell us what diseases we're supposed to get. Old people are warehoused in nursing homes, often sustained beyond their years with antibiotics and feeding tubes. Those afflicted with disease can make appointments to terminate their own lives.
The central focus of so many American families, getting their kids
into top colleges, is another good example of over-rationalization. A
generation ago, many Americans had no college graduates in their families.
†Now, so many have gone to college that the upward mobility game has been
demystified.† Consequently, the application process has become so
calculated that even grade schoolers build resumes. High schoolers
take SAT prep courses, join the "right" clubs and carefully script-- or
perhaps, borrow-- that perfect, life-defining essay.††
Information technology's raison d'etre is to lessen surprise.† Cell phones
and computers allow one to track the movements and thoughts of scores of
people in real time. You can obtain within seconds, virtually unlimited,
indispensable information on everything from sports scores to
Even adventure travel has become trite.†† Not only has that river journey or
mountain climb you planned been done before, but the book
about it is a bestseller at your local Borders and the movie was at your local ten plex.†† And it's hard to find exotic places when the whole world watches the same TV shows and surfs the Net. You could walk into a bar virtually anywhere in the world and see CNN on the TV or hear Celine Dion on the jukebox.† She's market-tested.
Monolithic housing and franchise-laden malls are in both cities
and rural areas.† Home Depots, GAPs, and Starbucks give us an excuse to
overuse the word "ubiquitous."† They have a very good idea how many track
lights, size 8 jeans and lattes they'll sell on a Friday night.† They've
††††††††††† As if itís all not boring enough, scientists are trying to make people live twice as long in this predictable world.† Instead of having a random assortment of people of different ages, we can have a world full of Jack LaLannes chasing Susan Sarandon clones.†† For decades.
††††††††††† Did this essay bother you?† Well, anybody could have predicted
that. That's why
††††††††††† Oh, and, uh, I almost forgot.† Have a nice day! :-)