I’m old enough that I can remember life without the net, and without PC’s in general. And I suppose that this has a huge influence on how continually astounded I am by the rate at which the virtual world continues its exponential evolution. It’s become such a ubiquitous presence that we seldom even think about it any more. But when I do stop to think about what it would be like — what it used to be like — to do the things I take for granted now, without a PC, or a smart phone, or a tablet or an internet connection, I’m often flabbergasted.
Blogging, for example, is a brave new world. Who would have thought that there were so many writers out there just waiting to exorcise their poor, tortured souls onto the virtual page? Imagine, the minute I upload this file, someone half a world away in Sydney can start reading it. Or in Berlin, or Peoria. No editor, no intermediaries — just me, open to the world for business. (Anyone born into the internet age is rolling their eyes at this point, — duh? — but get off your high horse for a moment and just dare to imagine how it must have felt to live in a world without such immediate syncronicity. In retrospect, it felt pretty good actually, but that’s another blog altogether…) And with the emerging availability of on-line translation protocols, folks can even read this flood of blogs in their language of choice. (Must be the death knell for Esperanto.) Oh, what I would have given to have had Google Translate when I was struggling through high school French!
Last week the top part of the agitator in my washing machine stopped turning properly. A couple of minutes on the internet and I soon discovered that the top part of the agitator is actually called the auger. A couple of minutes more and I discovered that, in fact, I was lucky it was an auger issue because this is far preferable to having a problem with the agitator proper (i.e. the wider, lower part of the shaft that twirls the clothes around in the bottom of your washer). If you’re having a problem with the agitator, I learned, it could be a motor or a belt or a clutch problem — all requiring serious and potentially expensive fixes. With the augur, what usually happens is that the plastic “dogs” that turn against the teeth of the main agitator, to keep the upper spindle turning independently, often wear out. When they’re stripped and don’t engage properly the augur doesn’t turn. Five minutes on YouTube with weezie63, the “red neck” plumber, and a trip to the local appliance store the next day to purchase four plastic replacement “dogs” ($8 plus tax), and I was good to go. Back in the day, this would have meant an expensive visit from an appliance repair person. Do they even have appliance repair people any more?
Then yesterday, doing a bit a research for an upcoming blog I’m planning on life lessons gleaned from minor hockey, I went searching for an image of one of those “Hockey is Life” t-shirts that were so popular (for so many sports) a few years ago. Of course, I found one immediately, with my first search query. And then that started me thinking about other funny t-shirts I’d seen over the course of the years — because, hey, this is the internet whose apparent raison d’être is to lure us down these alleys of lateral thinking so that we waste huge freakin’ swathes of our evenings and weekends without even realizing what we’re doing and that it’s already 1:32 in the morning.
Any variation of the classic “I’m with Stupid” shirt, as you might expect, offered no challenge either — found those images in an instant as well. Then I remembered a t-shirt I had seen years and years ago, but have never seen since. A shirt that became the stuff of legend, my grandfather’s favorite t-shirt of all time. We would have seen it together some time in the late the seventies or early eighties — while I was still in junior high school — on one of our summer excursions to a local “Wildlife Park”. This was around the time when “Egyptomania” was on the rise and the funerary treasures of the young King Tutankhamun were being shipped to key museums around the world for display, and attracting huge crowds in the process. Gramps and I certainly never made it to the Met in New York to enjoy the exhibit. But what we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one enchanted summer day at the park was a buxom, t-shirt-clad young lady striding languorously toward us with matching imprints of the sarcophigal (sp?) visage of King Tut emblazoned proudly across each of her breasts. And, below that, — just in case you happened to be a complete moron and miss the pun altogether — the dire warning, “DON’T TOUCH MY TUTS!” Surely, I thought, there’s no way the internet has that one on file. I was wrong…
Provocative pharaoh-centric fashion statements aside, however, don’t you find this vast, seething, unbounded, what? intelligence? of the Net unsettling somehow? The coalescing hive mind at work. Call me a pessimist, but I simply can’t imagine this will end well.
Neo? Neo, help! I think we’ve entered the Matrix…