Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Sept. 23
- Community Blog
Doomed Because It's So Damn Easy
One of my favorite places to eat in South Park is Hamilton’s Café. Some of the best bar food I’ve had, to be honest, and I’ve even ran a few bar kitchens myself. I’m not saying I’m some kind of Gordon Ramsay of bar food but still, I like to think I know good bar food from bad bar food.
Tonight I stepped around the corner to Hamilton’s to get an order of their wings. Love ‘em. Can’t get enough of them. While I waited for them to cook I stepped outside for a smoke. Outside the bar portion of Hamilton’s is a random scattering of souls ranging from trendy folk trying to be hip at a not-so-posh kinda place and dread-locked misfits with more holes in their face than nature intended, smoking because they can’t inside, and all of them seemingly speaking their own language.
There was one thing a majority of them seemed to have in common, though, and that was how techno-savvy they were. At least half of them were staring at the face of their phone with the glare of the screen highlighting their brow furrowed with concentration. Some of them were even smiling.
I got in a conversation with a small group of people regarding a group of bands- Suicidal Tendencies, Pantera, and Damageplan. The topic of Dimebag Darrell, the guitarist/co-founder of Pantera and Damageplan, came up and how he was shot and killed five years ago on stage in Ohio. One of the people I was speaking with couldn’t remember the name of his band Damageplan as she was telling her Dimebag Darrell story (because apparently, we all have one). So instead of stalling the story and trying to remember the name of the band, she just continued. But that didn’t stop another person in the group from whipping out his phone and looking up the name of the band.
“Damageplan!” he drunkenly slurred-screamed out as if he won a contest of who could remember the name of the band the fastest.
So the conversation continued for a few more minutes until one of us simply stated, “People are crazy.” They returned to the confines of Hamilton’s, surely to imbibe more after the topic we were discussing. I remained outside until my wings were done and just eavesdropped on other conversations. Then it happened again.
In a conversation, someone shouted out, “Mr. Bill! Mr. Bill! Oh no!!!” in the high-pitch voice required to mimic the sketch. Yet none of them could remember where this sketch originated. Saturday Night Live, I quickly remembered. A minute later, after a search on his phone, a member of the group said, “Saturday Night Live.” His friends smiled and nodded along, the light-bulb having been switched on for them.
When my wings were done, I walked back around the corner to my apartment, awed the entire time at how information is so damn readily available these days. Literally at your fingertips. And you could be standing outside of a bar trying to clear the alcoholic haze from your head or stuck in an elevator on the 32nd floor. It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re connected, the information is there.
But I think there’s a downside to all of this, and that is how vulnerable we are because of this ability to quickly retrieve information. First, if what keeps us so close to information suddenly breaks down, then what? Will people even know what to do? We’ve been so conditioned to be so attached. Second, the laziness factor comes into play. I was once at a minor-league baseball game with my ex-wife and a large group of her friends. The entire group was split in two and each half was situated on opposite sides of the stadium. However, minor-league stadiums are relatively small in comparison to the major stadiums like Petco Park. In fact, from where we were sitting, we could actually see the other group. During the third inning or so, my ex-wife wanted to make plans with the other group to make sure we knew where to all meet up after the game. She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone. I informed her that it’s a three minute walk to go over to them and I even visually pointed out exactly where they were sitting. “Why walk over there when I can just call them?” was her reply.
And that’s when it hit me- our society, if not a large portion of the human race, is heading down a very dangerous path of apathy and laziness. And all because if we want to know something but want to put in only the minimal amount of effort required, we can get away with that because of how easy it is.
Not to sound like Del Spooner, the main character from I, Robot, but if you’re not skeptical and even a little bit frightened of technology, you should be. You see, technology is in human hands and as our brains get bigger, so do the risks. That applies to everyone everywhere, even me here in little ol' South Park.