“Reach out and touch someone.” The slogan of some phone company from ye olden days, goes back at least to the 80s. Bold in its basic assertion, because “touching” someone is exactly what you DON’T do when you’re talking on the phone. No shared space. No shared air. No in-person-ness. Humanity was already failing.
And yet, the warmth of the human voice coming over the phone feels like a hearth fire compared to the universal-heat-death machine coldness of what now dominates: texting. Or some variation of it, courtesy of whatever antisocial media platform.
The cold distance of words on a screen makes it easy to be cruel. To be selfish. To disregard someone’s feelings. Disembodied. I can ignore or block you, or I can say horrible things to you that I likely would never say in person. I can disregard your basic humanity. I can cancel plans at the last minute, no problem. Everything is tentative. Insecurity as social principle in the era of technopacalypse.
I’m disconnected, the worst thing you can be in the cyborg era. People attempt to send me links and files and other tech hoodoo through my phone, because that’s how everything is done these days. Since I refuse to get a spacephone, that means there’s a lot of “communication” that I am more or less unable to get from folks. My flip-phone has no idea what you just sent me, and therefore neither do I. I have to wonder if it was really that important. Everyone has become a spam-artist.
Everything is so depersonalized. Why bother to call someone and tell them about a show or event when you can just send them a “digital flyer?” Funny how terms that are already old-fashioned become re-purposed as digital clones. Who the hell makes actual flyers anymore? I see them at record stores, and other random places; mostly business advertisements. Every time I see a poster for a show stapled to an electrical pole, I nearly weep. Remember when things were still physical?
No more of that; consciousness has been uploaded. Everything we do, we do here, in the no-place place of the net. Machines stand between us and most of our interaction. All our activities are mediated by faceless companies. There’s an app for everything, they get a cut of every pie. We’ve all become unpaid “content creators.” I put songs on soundcloud, soundcloud gets that many more hits, their advertisers keep paying them, their stock value goes up. I get… what? The occasional (rare) satisfaction of a listener comment?
But really, I’m shocked when I encounter anyone who actually listens to music, rather than treating it as a universal life soundtrack. Today my neighbor was mowing the lawn and blaring pop music from some “digital radio” station; I know people aren’t listening to music anymore, because no thinking human being could possibly tolerate the sheer inanity of the lyrics in these songs. They’re an insult to songwriters throughout time.
You know how touring musicians survive these days? They don’t. In order to “survive,” they have to transform from musicians into Lifestyle Brands(tm) and become glorified merchandise vendors. Nobody gets paid by ticket sales; they get paid by t-shirts, and if they’re Hardcore enough, by vinyl. You want a music career? Start playing at weddings. That is, if they’ve got money for a band. A serato DJ is way cheaper, and really, who gives a shit?
Buy music? Who does that anymore? I’ve yet to meet anyone under 25 who owns a CD player. Even most of the folks older than that don’t have one anymore. You haven’t heard? Music is no longer a product, it’s a service. Which means, essentially, that the only people getting paid are the people providing the “service platform.” Spotify might give you a quarter of a cent in royalties if you get 100,000 streams, but really, who needs you or your art? As for “listeners,” “fans,” and “the audience,” well, they long ago signed up for the heaven of infinite streaming music. Why buy something when you can listen to whatever at will? Back in ye olden days of napster, when mp3s were something that only college kids with their T1 internet connections had heard of, if I heard more than 3 songs from an act that I liked, I would go out and buy their album. Most people I knew did the same. Find me one person who’s bought anything from an act they discovered on a streaming service.
This, of course, is all a plot by the tech mafia, that mutant offspring of industrial consumer capitalism. When everything is digital, everything is streaming, the people who design and control the access ports control everything. You want photoshop? Well, you can pay for access to “the cloud,” and you can keep paying us forever. Products are for primitives; this is a “service” economy. The port masters stand in between us and everything, so they control everything, including the money, which contributes to a handful of assholes getting richer while everyone else is sentenced to destitution.
School teachers spend their disposable income to get basic supplies for their students, meanwhile code-writers and other such swine are shuttled to and from their padded rat cages by private air-conditioned buses. How long will it be before governments surrender even the pretense of governing, and simply hand over the reigns to google? Life as a live/work community under the soft computer voice and all-seeing camera eyes of tech. Is there any humiliation, any degradation that can’t be sold and bought to us? You already know the answer.
Kooks, cranks, and crackpots have been hollering and gnashing their teeth for decades about the Coming Evil of One World Government, and yet none of them seem to have realized that it’s already here. The internet, the digital, the technoverse IS the one-world government. It has no mind of it’s own (thank god, and a curse on everyone who would have it otherwise), but it does have an infinity of human servants and slaves. Just because there’s no terminators marauding around L.A. blasting people with laser guns doesn’t mean that skynet isn’t running things.
I would prefer having the terminators, actually. At least it would give me something to shoot.