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A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
We live in an age in which it seems perfectly normal to hear someone say “Go ahead and un-mute yourself, ma’am.”
A little over 40 years ago, we were thrilled to see a hologram of Carrie Fisher projected from R2-D2’s head, and of course we never thought we’d live to see a complete transformation of the ways in which we communicate, so it’s a wee bit sad that Princess Leia didn’t live to the day when we needn’t leave the house anymore to obtain an education, conduct the business of government, buy food and cars, attend a meeting or write this column.
If you had told me when I was twelve that we wouldn’t have flying cars or holidays on Mars by the time I was in my mid-fifties, I’d be sorely disappointed in what the future held in store for me. If you had told me we’d have blankets with sleeves, shark costumes for cats, blue tomato ketchup and voice-activated ceiling fans instead, I’d lose faith in humanity.
Now we’re in the greatest global calamity to affect mankind since… well, since they invented global calamities, and we are stuck in our blankets with sleeves, our faces are reduced to the size of postage stamps amid a myriad of jittery images on someone else’s computer screen, and we’ve completely lost track of what day it is, but we know who’s dating whom on the daytime soaps or when the football league will hold its long-awaited game between Pittsburgh and Baltimore because those are the only things that seem to matter anymore.
We may as well begin pronouncing the ‘l’ in ‘salmon’ now, since everything else is clearly subject to new rules or has become irrelevant.
Is it really a complete lack of direction?
Ten months ago, we were tootling merrily along with not a care in the world, ready to re-tweet every government hiccup or celebrity blunder, post pictures of kittens falling into food or dogs failing to catch Frisbees, and we honestly didn’t know that this would actually be the extent of our existence, the summing up of everything, rather in the way we are told just to “pack only the things that matter” when leaving a volcanic island upon the first sulphuric ashy burp from the summit. Here we are, on the 2020 Lifeboat, adrift in a beautiful blue sea but far too wrapped up in our evermore narrow existence to notice the gorgeous simplicity of real life.
Thankfully, there is a generation after ours, and those children are now learning new ways of life in schools and on screens where we’d be hopelessly lost. They’ve little time for genuine conversation, as it’s far too long and wordy, filled with descriptives and comparatives when it only needs hyperbole to catch their attention, preferably in the form of an emoji… so they probably aren’t reading this.
Curiously, the people of the next generation seem to be perfectly alright with marching on alone, and quite determined to make a success out of what we’ve dealt them, and entirely accustomed to being asked to un-mute themselves.
It’s the way of things.