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Google, text messaging, American Idol and the state of intimacy in America

March 2, 2007

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How’s it goin? The question was delivered by a harried clerk across a stainless steel counter in response to my offer of a twenty and a bottle of power steering fluid. I gave an attempt at a half hearted response, good how are you, but it apparently fell on deaf ears as he silently slid my eighteen plus change back across the counter and spoke the same non greeting to the next customer in line.

I wanted to stand there and inform his customers that he didn’t mean it. To somehow help some other well meaning fool from giving a response. Why? Why do we feel the need to pretend at intimacy we don’t feel? Did he believe it was somehow more polite to offer an unintended greeting than to just take the money with a grunt?

In a society where men and women alike have made a billion dollar industry out of paying by the minute to hear complete strangers express memorized simulations of physical intimacy, why do we still feel compelled to offer up these half hearted attempts at conversation?

I have also noticed a trend toward ECPS (electronic communication priority syndrome) this is the irritating habit people have of ignoring me in favor of answering their cell phones! For instance, I’m in line at the check out stand, helping to pay for this person’s sorry excuse for an existence when the bat phone rings!

I’m assuming it was the bat phone because instead of taking my money the guy, without one word of apology, answers his cell phone! After about a minute and a half, which for me is like a miracle, just ask my wife, I say excuse me, could we finish this transaction so we can both get on to more important things than standing here listening to you talk about your darn cat!?? ( I think I said darn, I hope I said darn, its kind of hard to remember I was so busy stifling homicidal tendencies)

So I get what I want, sort of, he apologizes… to the guy on the phone! Sorry, this customer who came in during regular business hours and was about to pay for his purchase when you called to ask about how Boots’ chemotherapy is going (by the way I told you he lost all the hair on his tail, didn’t I? Oh that’s right at Starbucks this morning) he is rudely insisting that I take his money before I continue with this enthralling and somewhat therapeutic conversation.

I think that the ease and wide accessability of electronic communication has weakened the very fabric of our society, not to mention killing off more braincells than THC and alcohol combined, apparently! We’ve always known that nobody really cares, how you are, but we can’t even give each other the courtesy of pretending anymore? The veneer has finally been stripped away.

I think this must be how God feels about me sometimes. There he stands patiently offering me intimacy and I am too busy sending a text message to a person in the next room to respond. Or surfing channels on my dish TV to make sure that what the Guide said was true, there really is 400 chanels of nothing to watch, or googling meaningful theological works, you know, the blog posts where people prove Solomon’s point, even a fool is thought wise as long as he remains SILENT!

What to do? Well I think the scene in the movie where the harried business man tosses his cell phone, (or blackberry as the case may be depending on whether the suit is Kenneth Cole or Armani), into the lake, or a passing garbage truck, or if they’re really thinking “outside the box”, (sorry in an aside kind of mood today: what exactly is the “box” and if God’s in it, ala that sermon we’ve all heard about letting him out of it, why are we thinking outside of it?) …lets his girlfriend, wife or kid do it for him, is way overplayed, but it might be a good start.

How about setting aside just one afternoon a week for human to human interaction? Take your wife and kids to the park and just sit for the hour that American Idol (by the way, can you be a christian and still watch a show with the word idol actually IN the title? Just wondering, if you know get back to me.) would normally be dragging you into its fantasy world. Join a book club, take your pastor to lunch and offer to pray for HIM for a switch.

Better yet ask that clerk what kind of soda he likes and buy him one, you might make a new friend. Or even better than that take the batphone guy a sachet of catnip, (did I just use the word sachet? why yes! I believe you did!) After all, relationships are the only things we take with us into the next life. Everything else is going to BURN, BABY, BURN, DISCO INFERNO! Are you still here? Crap! I am so embarrassed, even my wife doesn’t get to watch me dance like that!

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3 comments

  1. Hey Mark! did you know that more peaople vote for American Idol than they do for president? not surprizing, huh? anyway…i like ur blog/website.


  2. You know the first thought that came to mind? It probably sounds ridiculous, but my first thought was, ‘no front porch’. People don’t sit on the front porch anymore and wave at their neighbors in the evenings, chatting about the weather and watching the kids catch fireflies. We’ve become little islands in a community sea, marooned by choice or by circumstance.


  3. sorry-that more voted for idol than president thing is a myth.



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