I visited the Internet today. I went… online. Such is a word that seems to be losing meaning. There never is a time that we are offline. At home, your desktop is tethered to your router constantly and offline really means inactive-periods-online. I don’t mean to be all Big Brother on you, but your so-called “phone” constantly tracks you and always maintains a connection to a satellite network. Your “phone” has a camera pointed at you whenever you check the time. So next time someone asks you, “do you have the time?” you’re justified in saying, “Fuck you.”
The other side to that coin: the word phone. Your phone is not really a phone anymore, its what being online is. Could you imagine if your phone still had to use dial-up? You would carry a fifty-foot cord and say, “can I plug in? I need to go online.”
If we refer to our mobile device with such primitive terms as telephone, why don’t we refer to text as telegraph? Really, text messaging is the inevitability of the telegraph, once you apply space travel to the equation. I suppose we could shorten it. “I don’t know where Sally is, let me graph her.”
People have lost patience for conversation, which is strange because texting is so much more laborious. You’re texting up a conversation with someone, you realize it can take thirty minutes this way or two minutes with a call, so you call them, no answer. What is that? On the other end are they like… [Ring] [Freeze up like deer in headlights] “Oh my God I have to answer that.” [Ring] “Okay I should answer that…” [Ring] “No, he’ll want to talk.” [No Ring] “God, why do I even allow this thing to ring?”
The iPhone is a microcomputer capable of everything and more at unfathomable degrees more power than the first Macintosh system almost thirty years ago in 1984. The question I have is this: when does the functionality of a computer system surpass the need of a human? That’s a trick question. ALWAYS! Look, I’m not an “anti-techite.” I am a geek. But I’m sure that we’re doing this just for kicks, no matter how much you think it’s benefiting your production volume.
I know that some poor asshole that resisted change tooth and nail suddenly has absolutely no competitive edge. This guy still talks about going to a “cyber-café” to go online. “I’ll take a mocha and how much is your Internet per minute here?” You however, walk in to a café, no sign on the wall about “free wifi”, you order your food, find out there is no wifi, and you say, “What the fuck!” Even though it hardly matters because your phone is on 4G. But that guy knows he doesn’t need any of it, beyond what the market forces him to do in order to make a living. That’s not natural. But liaise-fare in love and war.
You know that when you have this much technologic advancement in such a short period, social standards and language must adapt quickly. Only twelve years ago I worked as a line cook at an Italian Restaurant, the immigrant dishwasher had a cell phone but neither the white waiters nor myself had one. Waiter says, “you can never say you’re poor if you have a cell phone.” All you have to do today to prove that theory wrong is stakeout Cricket retail. Next door: a Payday Loan. You’ll see several people walk between them.
There is a shop in my neighborhood–real busted phone shop—and for a sign they simply made a vinyl banner that reads, “Sell Phone”. Now that’s contemporary American poverty.
When it comes to language, the first word to go was “online research”. When I was in college, you really were referring to a specific type of research, but now that’s just research. So when you ask somebody, “Hey can you tell me the year of the moon landing?” and they say, “you should look that up online”, then you are justified in saying, “really asshole? Am I supposed to be so ignorant that I couldn’t think to Google that?”
If the common phrase “look up” can be replaced by the word Google, then it’s only a matter of time until it is fully integrated to common usage. So it is possible that future generations will lose perspective of it’s origin and you’ll hear a young wife asking her husband to Google the keys for her, because she can’t find them in her purse. Later that evening the husband will call out to his dog, “Lycos! Google my slippers!”
I’m a young man; I have several more advancements to look forward to. I’m part of nature’s planned obsolescence. I know that when I’m Grandpa Ongley relating stories of the 20th Century–the eighties with it’s manual cars and drum machines, the nineties with our endless magazines and personal ‘puters–I’ll say,
“Yes, we had to ask everyone in the house ‘do you need to use the line, I’m going to check my e-mail, or ICQ, maybe visit this chat room I heard about.”
“It’s fine, my pager is on. Go for it.”
“Ditto, the voicemail will get it.”
“And I’d say, ‘Awesome.’ Then I would climb in to the captains chair at the desk where we had a personal ‘puter that was almost a foot wide and two feet high. I would enter a long-distance telephone number in to my EarthLink–or during hard times Net Zero–press enter and [woosh-hiss-boom-screech] launch the phone line to outer space, catch an orbit at dial-up speed—that was 56K—“
“Nope. Kilobits, kids!”
“But then you were online! You were really online, in a new world where Pepsi.com was beautiful.” And all the children will listen in wonder of a world where there was such a thing as offline.