Isolation In America 2015

Today in America in 2015, we are more isolated than ever before….We move daily through a brightly colored landscape of amazing technological wonders, shop in sophisticated malls, monumental palaces of glass and chrome, when we go shopping for clothes or shoes …We get readouts on bargains and sales on our cell phones on grocery items while we are shopping for food, no need to ask the clerk any questions…. Whenever we need to go somewhere, we realize our cars themselves have become computerized…The old days of popping the hood when you heard a weird sound and tinkering with the engine with your buddies hanging around, drinking a beer and giving advice is over….

Now everything in your car is computer monitored and when you have a problem, the computerized warning system in your car flashes out a warning and you take it to a shop with a mechanic who can diagnose and fix the problems with his own computer readouts….Tesla and Apple are both feverishly pioneering deep research in the development and implementation of cars that will soon be able to drive themselves…No human attention will be needed in this bright and shiny future, and both companies have prototypes already out on the streets…In a decade, computer driven cars will be in the majority….

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If you go out to a club or bar at night, the deep booming techno music comes pouring out of speakers at a deafening level, making ordinary conversation impossible…..Good luck at getting the bartenders attention too, to order an outrageously over priced drink, often pre mixed by computerized drink machines, and although you are constantly being bumped and jostled, it is still all so impersonal and random it is like taking public transportation to work..

You have to shout into the ear of the person you are with for the simplest comments if you are on a date, and if you are just trying to meet somebody and go alone, good luck…..You will most likely leave alone, unable to schmooze and socialize over drinks and get to talk to somebody and get to know them well enough to take the encounter to the next level, whatever that may be…

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When you get home, if you live alone, you have a wide array of technological wonders and amusements to peruse…You have cable TV, dish TV, Netflix, DVD’s or digital movies on demand, a DVR that has already prerecorded your favorite shows, literally thousands of viewing choices to pick from, and the biggest wide screen HD TV you can afford to watch them on…….No need to go to a dark, hot crowded movie theater and stand in line to buy a ticket and then sit in a cramped seat and bump elbows in the dark with a total stranger….

If you are married or living with someone, you probably have already skipped the bar scene and are ensconced on the couch or your favorite chair watching something on television already, but all too often your significant other has radically different viewing tastes than you…For example, if you like sports and your significant other doesn’t, you will probably end up alone in one room watching your sports while they are in another room watching documentaries or soap operas, cooking shows, talk shows, movies or the latest special to grace the air waves…

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If you have very young children, you are of course involved with their care or nurturing when they are infants, but they soon develop into little people of their own, and the young people today have a dazzling array of technological toys and gizmos that never existed in my childhood…They may spend hours playing video games, or something called sandbox or open world, featuring games like The Sims or Minecraft are called sandbox games, where you can manufacture and create simulations of a real life that doesn’t exist anymore, modifying and altering the character’s you create behavior….

Skyrim is an open world game that focuses as quests….There is an appreciable difference in the focus of the two genres though, even though there is a large amount of overlap. Here from my Google sources, just one anonymous opinion, is a more clear definition of the latest generation of video games:

“An open world game may or may not be a sandbox game. The scale we want to measure against is Theme park vs Sandbox. World of Warcraft is an open world game, and a theme park. You can run around in the world more or less as you please, but it was crafted by Blizzard and each player will experience the same things in the same circumstances. The content will be basically the same for everyone.

Minecraft on the other hand is open world and a sandbox. The player has a large degree of freedom to do whatever the want. Skyrim (unmodded) is a bit more sandbox-y than WoW, because you can ‘permanently’ kill NPCs, move items around in the world, etc. But it is not as sandbox-y as Minecraft because you can’t deform the world (other than build a few houses with set designs, in set locations.)”

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There-did that help? It just totally confused me, as an older person without any kids in the house I have only the most rudimentary knowledge of these sophisticated new video games…. I think I dropped out of the video game world somewhere around Pacman and Frogger, although I do remember playing Grand theft Auto with my grandson one evening….

Do you remember video arcades, where teens came together with their friends and socialized and fought and jostled for spots at the newest, hottest video games, actual stand up and play machines? Now all that can be done in the privacy of your own home, on your cell phone or played through your TV, and video arcades as well have disappeared from the landscape of modern America….

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Well there is always work world to fall back on! Here 5 days a week you are forced into a small office and have to interact with your co workers and your bosses to some degree, although that can rarely be termed enjoyable….In most cases it is just forced artificial socialization, like school, where the only thing you really have in common is the geographical proximity of the office and the pseudo intimacy of mandatory attendance requirements….You can’t wait for that bell to ring or 5 pm to arrive so you can walk out that door without a backward glance…..

So another day goes by, and you finally collapse into bed, either alone or with your significant other, and they are usually too tired from their own excursions into work world, chores, their own individual schedules they have had to maintain for any real intimacy here either…It seems we are just sharing space on this planet, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, but NOT heart to heart….

It seems we are all alienated and alone in the midst of the greatest technological society the world has ever experienced….I guess it’s a trade off, the tech lords give and the tech lords taketh…

Myself, I feel isolated….How about you?

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

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