Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Virtual People

There was a woman talking on her cel phone in Costco yesterday. I first saw her as I was walking in the front door, talking on her cel phone, and, having arrived at approximately the same time, as we did our shopping we were never more than an aisle apart, so I saw her often, talking on her cel phone. I picked up some grated cheese, and there she was, talking on her cel phone. I moved into the freezer aisle for some blueberries, and there she was, talking on her cel phone. Got a toaster oven sample, and there she was, talking on her cel phone. Dairy aisle, talking on her cel phone. Cereal, talking on her cel phone. A half-hour later, talking on her cel phone. Checking out, I saw her lining up a few rows away, talking on her cel phone. Did she pause to say "thank you" to the checker?
I have no doubt that the conversation started before she got into her vehicle, occupied at least half of her mind while driving, and will continue probably until her battery goes dead. Maybe she carries a spare battery.

What a sad life some of us lead. Get up in the morning. Make a call. One hand is all you need to pop your freezer breakfast into the heater. Turn on the TV. Make a call. Slip-on shoes so one hand can hold the phone up. Might as well use an ear bud so you can keep talking while you take a dump, fix your hair, put on your makeup, file your corns, shape your nails. God forbid someone should see you unprepared! Make a call. Go the the garage, climb into your mobile living room. Don't even take a coat. Snowing today? Wear you high-heeled BOOTS. Let the garage door open itself. Talk. Drive. Automatic transmission just requires one foot, leaving your mind free for the call, how convenient! Go shopping. Make a call. Go to work. Make a call. Your boss prohibits talking on cel phones? Text message. Or go to a chat room. But keep an extra window open so you can look like you're working at a moment's notice. Get off work. Make a call. Back to your Dummer in the parking garage. Blah blah blah. Have you been outside yet today? Faced the weather? Got any dirt on your hands? What about your shoes, walked on anything other than carpet and tile? Seen a bird? Smelled the pollen? Heard the wind in the trees? Is your reality entirely virtual, do you experience the world through the TV screen, the windshield, the monitor, your microwave, the climate control in your car, your pop radio, your contacts, hiding behind your makeup, your hair, your fashions, talking to people electronically, everything carefully filtered and cleansed and purified and fake?

Get on a bike, for gods sake. Grrrr!


Unknown said...

A shopping trip to Costco, is, in itself, virtuality. Dairy aisle? Did you talk to the farmer to see how he treats his cows? Help milk them? Cereal aisle? I presume this was the boxed and sugared breakfast candy that bears little relation to what actually grows in the fields. Were you greeted as a regular customer or was your presence at the store any more than an anonymous contribution to the coffers of Costco Wholesale Corporation?

The question is not one of living in virtuality, as we all do to some extent in an industrialized society, but of how much and which parts of your life you choose to live in it. Bad choices abound.

paul said...

Thanks for your comment, b. You're right. -p.a.