Personally, I can’t tell you how many times when, stuck on the freeway behind a long line of rubberneckers, I’ve wished I could push a button on my dashboard and hidden thrusters in the chassis would fire and rocket me up and over the jam, safely to wherever the hell it is that’s so important I HAVE TO BE THERE NOW. That would be so much easier than sitting behind a train of brake-happy gawkers preventing me from being where I’m supposed to be. Emphasis on the “ease” in “easier” because there is no disquieted spirit like the disquieted spirit of a stuck driver in a hurry. What a balm to the soul it would be to literally rise above. Oh, what peace of mind.
Well, now we’ve done it. We went and wished everything were so much easier—than what or when, by the way? Our forefathers’/foremothers’ time? Just our fathers’/mothers’ time? We’ve worked our brains out and our hands raw, and lo and behold, we’ve made it so. Everything is now officially easy.
Even though we don’t actually have flying cars—though our man Musk is working on ‘em—we’ve now arrived at the place we meant when, 50 years ago, we said, “I can’t wait till we have flying cars.” “I can’t wait till we have flying cars” being euphemistic lingo, whether we realize it or not, for “I can’t wait till my life is as easy as I can imagine it being.” The Dead Kennedys, those hideously lovely Bay Area punk rockers, named their 1987 album “Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.” Hello.
A tangible example of a flying car and one that’s already had innumerable iterations in the past 15 years: ye olde cellular telephone. Didn’t that flying car-style of lust for ease spur the development of this thing? And didn’t that same sort of lust, a kind of proportionate and generational degradation in the ability to just chill the [email protected]^ out, turn cellphones into pocket computers?
Look, I’m no Luddite. What we do have is cool as hell. Cars that can park themselves? Amazing. Phones that … do everything … also amazing. And if/when, one day, we do literally have cars that can whiz through the clouds, I’d trade in my trusty Jetta for one.
Just because we can, though … Do we have to?
I don’t know anything about the Amish other than the painfully obvious. They have beards and, for whatever reason, something religious, they don’t do technology. Except they do. It’s just technology that stopped being cutting-edge centuries ago. Why they stopped where they did, with horses and buggies instead of cars and candle flames instead of light bulbs, I have no idea, and it’s beside the point, anyway. It seems that what they miss in Instagram they make up for in what Instagram (and Snapchat, Facebook et al.) is a symbol for: each other, me and you, you and me. Them and they and us and we. Raising a barn together because yes, we sure do need that barn, but even more so, we sure do need each other. You can’t get me with a Barn-O-Matic. I’m just sayin’. And I know you can’t be had with a Plow-O-Tron. Facts = facts.
I wonder if it’s even humanly possible for us, the non-Amish, to look a convenience dead in the face, however consequential the convenience happens to be, and straight-up say, “No.” Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine.
Wait. Yep. There it is. A prime example. Anti-vaxxers. Turning down life-saving immunizations for their children. It’s like a caveman turning down fire.
Grog: Grog family share fire with Krog family. Keep warm. Not die.
Krog: Cave doctor full of mammoth [email protected]#%. Ice and darkness good for Krogs.
I digress. But only slightly. We have convenience. Now, what about death?
A couple of years ago, a news story popped up about a particular factory in China. A number of workers at this factory had leapt to their deaths. You know, suicide. That thing you do after they jab you with a straw and slurp out all your purpose.
I don’t know, something about being overworked without proper compensation. Maybe something else about the inability of the workers to meet absurd demands for the product. Maybe another thing in there too about substandard working conditions. I don’t remember it all completely, but I do remember the company: Apple. So the folks who made the handy gizmo in my pocket, the one where I keep all my kids’ pictures, are dead? And you’re saying they’re dead precisely because they made the handy gizmo in my pocket? Boy. I feel sick.
A little. A little bit sick. Now, scram. I’ve got some candy to crush.
Paul Luikart is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of places over the years. His most recent book, “Animal Heart,” is available now from Hyperborea Publishing. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.