July 24, 2003

Toward the Syncytium

Call me sheltered. I admit it. It takes little to amaze me, less perhaps to weird me out. And too, I think I am ready for my membership ceremony to induct me officially into "the other generation" now playing the back nine of the technological turf. My occasional encounters with 'civilization' alway incite at least one or two minor rants.

Standing pensively in the "computer media" aisle at Office Monster last week, I was trying to decide if I really needed a five-pack of DVD-RW disks, or would I be getting them just to say I had them? A staff person walked past me, and said something. I turned to reply, but she was obviously not speaking to me, although she continued the conversation, looking through me. I had a question about my intended purchase, but she was not in my personal space after all, though I could have reached out and touched her. This identical experience repeated over in Pens and Markers. I began to feel invisible.

It was only when I got to checkout that I could see the very tiny earpiece, and finally spotted the weeny mouthpiece that hung on a thin wire at the side of the clerk's jaw. As I walked back with a Airborne package a few minutes later, I made a point to look, and every one of the staff could talk at any instant to any other of the staff and management via these headsets. Not a shocking bit of technological discovery, granted. But my mind zoomed ahead maybe 10 years, and I imagined a time when the hardware was microscopic, perhaps implanted. And humanity had become a single technological organism, a syncytium... a merged colony of social insects bound together cordlessly across the planet. Just one of my little daydreams....

From there I drove a short way to the Express Lube, where I had been once or twice, the lastest visit several oil chnages ago. As I got out of the car, the young man called me by name in a cheery voice. The second asked "How is life out on Goose Creek?"

There is no way these guys, especially two of them, could have remembered me from those distant visits. Do they have a license plate recognition camera at the entrance that instantly pulls up my name and address as I drive onto their lot, so they can seem 'up close and personal'? After encountering the ant colony in Office Monster, the familiarity of the Lube Brothers took on somewhat sinister overtones, in a Twilight Zone sort of way.

Posted by fred1st at July 24, 2003 06:34 AM | TrackBack

Even people on cell phones are scary. Walking into someone's work space, I frequently interrupt the pensive look on his/her face to state my business only to discover that I am interrupting a telephone conversation. Groan! With apologies to Walk Kelley's memory, "We have met the Borg and they is us."
P.S. Yesterday's local newspaper had an article citing findings that a person talking on the phone while driving is more dangerous than one who is drunk. A near-miss caused by another driver's having run a red light convinced me that I would never use a cell phone while driving. My reaction was delayed a fraction by my attention's being diverted to the conversation that I was having by ham radio. (One of the people to whom I had been speaking told me later that his wife turned to him to say, "Did she really say that over the radio?" when she heard the expletive deleted that I hurled at the offending driver.) After that incident, I no longer use my ham equipment while driving. I felt really stupid to have tried it even the once!

Posted by: Cop Car at July 24, 2003 07:32 AM

Personally, I don't even like good old land-locked phones, let alone the idea of talking to everybody who isn't there all the time. I don't like talking to people over phone or whatever. I need it to be personal, face to face, living matter to living matter, with facial expressions, hand gestures, eye movements, and all. Otherwise it seems to me, what's the point? I think why people like all these technologies, even the internet, because it allows them to be relatively always able to contact the others arbitrarily, but allow themselves to be further impersonal and with less commitment to the other person at any given time.

Posted by: Josh at July 24, 2003 10:38 AM

If you have been to the Lube place before, all they have to do is type your plate number into the computer and everything about you and your car (from previous visits) is available.

Posted by: bogie at July 24, 2003 04:15 PM

It's definitely the Borg. (All those Spee-D-Loob places are cube-shaped, remember?)

"I am Havoline of Borg. You will be lubricated. Resistance is four bucks."

Posted by: CGHill at July 24, 2003 05:03 PM

Excellent parallel.

Posted by: Da Goddess at July 25, 2003 03:30 AM

Josh--Actually, I'm nearly phobic of landline telephones. I tell my kids (Bogie & Sis) that a phone doesn't fit in my hand. It is more likely that I will hike 5 buildings across the way to see someone at work rather than calling them. On the other hand, radios and keyboards hold no terror for me.

CBHill--LMAO. You are right. They are cube (and pi are square.)

Posted by: Cop Car at July 25, 2003 09:10 PM

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