This passage from the ACX Society of the Spectacle reader review really struck me:

Now our role models are media creations. Some are literal fictional characters (James Bond); others are nominally real people (Kylie Jenner). But both are merely representations – images usurping an essential formative role. ‘William Shatner’ and ‘Robert Downey, Jr.’ are only marginally more real than Captain Kirk and Tony Stark, yet they occupy way more headspace than people that live down the street.

Most people can name more celebrities, in more detail, than people they’ve known in person. I know the names of Will Smith’s kids – I don’t even know if my best friends from high school have any.

Like—is that true? Can that possibly be true? How does that happen? It’s asserted as if it’s just obvious, and it seems like a shocking claim to me.

(Now, the entire review feels like this somewhat. But this passage really stood out as sounding completely insane to me.)

This struck me as one of the *relatively* sane bits of that article, although I think it says more about rootlessness than it does about [knowing a lot about celebrities]. I *don’t* know whether my best friends from middle school have kids, because I live in a different country from them now. I think I *would* have heard if my friends from high school had had kids, but if we had all scattered to the winds it would be another story. I have spent over *three months* trying to start getting to know people down the street, and in that time the volunteering group in question has held exactly one meetup that they *both* remembered to tell me about *and* didn’t cancel. (I shudder to think how hard it would be if there hadn’t even *been* a volunteering group already in place.)

To me the completely insane part was this bit:

“We’ve all felt the shockwaves of the Internet explosion.  Life is *different* now. It takes an act of will to put down your phone so you can focus on the TV.  Low battery is an emergency. Losing signal is bereavement. Navigating without GPS is an anxiety attack.

Do you remember what it was like, not so long ago?  How exciting it was to play videogames with someone a thousand miles away? How cool it was the first time you streamed a movie on an airplane? That sense of possibility and promise, like all the world was in the palm of your hand?”

In order of appearance:

1. If I have access to a TV (implying that I’m at home), why am I on a phone and not a laptop?

1a. I generally do have my laptop open while watching TV, *because* I generally only watch TV as a social activity with online friends.

2. I frequently go entire days without touching my phone; on most days that I interact with my phone I do so for only a minute or two; on most days that I interact with my phone for more than five cumulative minutes it’s because I’m updating its software or local files. Note that I have it set to sync SMS messages to my laptop over KDE Connect, so I do not need to touch my phone to notice that I have received a text or even to respond to it.

3. Low battery is an occasional annoyance. The worst-case scenario is that because my phone is dead I don’t notice the text from my boss offering me an extra shift on short notice, which *did* almost happen to me yesterday but fortunately I still had 6% left. I suppose I shall be *slightly* more careful, given that reminder that functioning phones are *occasionally* unexpectedly important.

4. *Despite* low phone battery not majorly featuring in my life, I carry two USB cables, a small solar generator, and an AC adapter at all times whenever leaving my home. Surely someone who cared desperately about maintaining phone charge should be, if anything, *more* careful?

5. I didn’t even *have* a SIM card for over *six years* after getting my first smartphone. Even now, my data plan is 250 MB per month: an occasional backup, not remotely something I can afford to leave on all the time. Everything about my smartphone is oriented around Internet access being erratic and/or heavily rationed: the *point* of a smartphone, for me, is that it can be made largely self-sufficient, that you can keep your digital belongings not only with you but *accessible* even when you are far from home and signal alike.

6. I did not have GPS until 2014, and I assure you that navigating without GPS was *always* nightmarish even when I *hadn’t* experienced anything better.

7. I *do* enjoy watching over a friend’s shoulder from two thousand miles away while they play a video game and we chat about it, although our schedules haven’t worked out lately.

8. Wait, streaming movies on airplanes is possible now? Since when? I was last on a plane in 2015 bold of OP to assume I can afford to travel and that was definitely not a thing, although it *was* a downmarket airline so maybe fancy planes could arrange for it. Do they still call it “airplane mode”?

9. The world *is*, almost literally, in the palm of my hand.


#Brin owns *two* 2010’s computers now #reply via reblog #101 Uses for Infrastructureless Computers #proud citizen of The Future #adventures in human capitalism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.