Discover more from Scranton Time - bits and pieces from Tom Flannery
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Growing up in a land without social media seems very strange in retrospect. Whatever did we all do all day? When we visited the art museum did we actually look at the portraits on the wall?
Were we really outside playing all that time? Did we read books and listen to the radio and sit cross-legged on the bedroom floor devouring the liner notes to our favorite albums? Did we sit at the kitchen table eating Sugar Smacks while intensely reading the back and sides of the box? Did we bring the newspaper in the shitter and play board games and swim in muddy creeks and play whiffle ball on the road? Did we come home from school and dump our books and disappear outside until summoned home for dinner? Did we drink illicit beers in the soft summer rain? Did we mail our film off to distant Kodak lands and eagerly await weeks for the magic that would return?
We don't anymore, obviously.
It seems bizarro world to me that some esteemed scientist, as an example, can put something on social media based on years and years of painstaking research, and instantly have his post hijacked by a swarm of high school educated trolls calling him a "libtard" and a "sheep".
Somehow the guy who won the Nobel Prize and the kid who grew up on Laura Ingraham and Miller Lite and Beavis and Butthead re-runs are granted the same rarefied air. That's democracy on 'roids, yo.
I mean....I get it. It's a free country and all that. Bullies have always been a thing, but were mostly relegated to locker rooms and places like that. The odd psychopath you had to deal with in the hallways. But at least you knew that Johnny was a dangerous lunatic. You knew where he was and what set him off and what route to take home from school to avoid him. He was a 8-2pm problem.
Now? He's everywhere and nowhere and never sleeps. He's emboldened by anonymity and Red Bull and an endless supply of memes. He comes home, grabs a Mountain Dew and a bag of Combos, and starts spewing gibberish like a race car leaking oil. He's got thousands of followers, and after a while it's like Jim Jones with the auctioneer mic firing up that kool-aid line. It's an infestation of vile ignorance and the scientific breakthrough is no longer the story.
And then he gets elected to Congress.
But I digress.
This is what happens when everybody stops playing whiffle ball on the street and can't even jerk-off without a smart phone due to a lack of imagination.
Sometimes I wish that pesky Al Gore never invented the internet.
Oh, in the early days it was fun enough. Those AOL discs filling up your mailbox, and that iconic crinkly modem sound as you tried to connect to what was then a brand new world. You just had to hope that nobody in the house had to use the phone or you had to go through the process all over again. Or if you had call waiting and somebody beeped in? You were toast. It's amazing we were able to hold it together. "You've got mail" it would shout at you and you'd get all excited because nobody had invented spam quite yet. It was the equivalent of receiving an actual written letter these days. Whatever it was you couldn't wait to read it. And then the magic of instant messaging, and "chat rooms", and now every loner weirdo had instant soulmates, distance be damned. What did it matter if that girl was from Kazakhstan? She felt you, bro! She understood you like no other, and someday she'd come visit and meet you at the mall food court, as long as you fronted her the plane ticket cash.
And that Netscape browser. Tell me you didn't use it....you can't. You were rebelling against that evil nerd Gates even then.
All of this happened before that Prince from Nigeria came along begging you to take over some of his excess inheritance. It was a simpler time. Once phone modems went away, and things stopped “buffering”, we lost our innocence.
And so much for all that. What's done is done, and there's no going back. All the fun got sucked out of the internet when Napster pissed off the drummer from Metallica. It's currently a large lunatic asylum where the inmates run free and the flat earth society brags of having members "all around the globe".
It's a place where people band together to insist that it be illegal to teach anything other than American white people historically treating non-whites the way Carol and Mike Brady treated Alice.
It can also, you know, assist in toppling democracies. But we can talk on that later.
In a bit..