Thursday, September 15, 2005

Our Growling Future

The woods are full of wardens. - Jack Kerouac

I do worry from time to time about the future.

Not mine, particularly, as there aren’t going to be too many more entertainment format changes showing up between now and my inevitable coronary. I can deal.

I mean us, here, in general.

The world we’ve created for ourselves worries me, especially the aural environment we’ve been forced to accept. I worked in retail for a little while, but at least I didn’t have to work under the conditions I see today, where floorpeople and cashiers are stuck in a box with this canned soundtrack looping over and over all day. I think I’d go mad in short order, screaming lyrics at the customers and spray-painting the walls with obscenities.

When was it decided that we couldn’t survive for a minute without some kind of noise pummeling us into submission? Everywhere you go, there’s no escaping this constant, insistent soundtrack, whether it’s from the guy in the car behind you with the bass up so loud it makes you nauseous or a wedding with a DJ who seems to think he’s spinning records for the deaf.

Office workers have daily skirmishes with their colleagues about the volume of their radios and CD players. There’s something very intrusive about being forced to listen to somebody else’s music all day. My solution is to keep headphones on all day, but even this becomes too much after a while. Sometimes you’d just like to be able to take them off and work in peace and quiet, but you’ve got no other defense.

There’s nowhere to go, no place to escape. Everything is growing smaller, empty spaces are filled up with more coffee and donut shops. And then there’s the invisible fences, the cameras on street corners, the Internet databases, the new ID’s, the retinal scans. The new K-9 dogs of the 21st Century. We're all tagged like animals on a preserve.

The freedom to disappear is disappearing.

We’re losing the right to disguise ourselves, drop out, become someone else, something else. We’ve been tattooed by our credit cards and mortgages and insurance companies and bumper stickers. I’m old enough to remember when the world seemed wider, larger, with more possibilities available. We didn’t have as much, so we felt like we had more room. Now we have too much and we feel crowded out, by cellphones and soundtracks and mini-malls and parking meters. It feels like a slow motion beating and we’re not able to get a punch in.

I can only imagine where we’ll be in 50 years. It’s hard enough for your average middle-class family to find their quiet corner of the earth as it is; soon it will be a luxury available only to those who can afford it. Because the dogs have got your scent and they’re closing in. No way they’re not dragging you back to your cell if they can help it.

I was driving through a nearby town the other day and they were proudly displaying flags celebrating the anniversary of their founding. At first glance I thought they read Our Growling Future but Growling turned out to Growing. Then I thought, no, I think I was right the first time. I can already hear that guttural growling in the distance, daring me to run towards freedom, knowing I can't win.

Can’t you?


Anonymous Sgt. Major Tigerbomb said...

But the silences! They plague us so! Silence leads to thought and thought leads to ...

... the cookie jar!

Friday, September 16, 2005 9:47:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

You know, this whole thing isn't going to work if the comments are stranger than the posts...

I should think you would have retained this from the orientation session.

The Beatles wouldn't have worked if Paulie hadn't agreed to be the cute one and Ringo the great mopey git, do you see what I mean?

We're all characters in search of an author, sgt. timebomb, never forget that. Now back to programming your iPod, or whatever it is you young hooligans do.

Friday, September 16, 2005 1:17:00 PM  

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