Sunday, February 19, 2012

Generation Text: Facing the Future

Passages / Oil on Canvas /24 x 30 /SOLD

Here's a fun video billed as the ultimate song about loneliness, love and loss:

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2012.
Generation Text: Facing the Future

Oh I love big cities! The noise! And the crowds! The crowds! That stormy sea of faces cluttering up the sidewalks. No wait… That was before. It’s different now. We don’t see faces anymore.

I know this because I have a friend who just returned from New York City and I told her my most favourite thing to do in a big city was to find a nice cafĂ© somewhere and drink coffee while watching the faces of the people go by. But she said she didn’t see a single face. In fact the only faces she saw were those of the street people who still use their faces. The rest of the people were on their blackberry/phone/I-pad blitherbloos, racing along the sidewalks with their heads buried in technology, texting away, smashing into lamp posts and getting run over by cars being driven by people also texting with their faces in their laps. All she saw, says she, was the top of people’s heads as they went by.

The times have shifted. So much for Generation X: now it’s Generation Text.

So apparently we won’t be needing faces anymore. Faces are old biological-type technology more suited to the seventies than to this new world order we live in. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the evolutionary process is going to eventually eliminate this last vestige of bygone days because faces are more like the appendix now. We have them but we don’t use them.

Eventually doctors in the future will simply operate on us and remove these dreadful things called faces because they will inevitably become an embarrassment. They’ll be seen as horribly inefficient things always requiring care and upkeep, with open bits and pointy parts and crevices and creases that sometimes emit some of the most embarrassing sounds. They used to call those sounds conversation but now according to my most astute observations, these conversation things are just annoying noises polluting the otherwise serene silence of this generation who stare at you blankly when you talk to them. Talking, also known as forming words, is just a waste of energy now. Why make noise when you can just text message? Conversation is one of those things that makes use of things like abstract reasoning, the larynx, longer-than-20-second attention spans and the ability to realize there are actually other people in the world. According to scientists, who study the effects of this influx of recent technology, these things are swiftly disappearing. (Well… I’m not sure about the larynx part but I figure it’s likely.) We are evolving into silent linear thinkers without faces who can’t remember what we’re doing anymore and have forgotten how to use our voices other than to swear when we stub our toes.

The only thing of course that I’m worried about is Facebook. What will be the point of Facebook if we don’t have faces? Since Facebook is about the only place now where we can actually see what people look like, perhaps what will happen is we’ll all take pictures of ourselves at the age of 21 when we’re bright and beautiful in full make-up with a full-head of hair and that’ll be our image forever preserved before we go to surgery to have the thing removed.

But then why would we do that when we can create avatars with purple nostrils and flaming green hair and eyeballs shaped like the asteroids of Orion? It’s not like anybody is going to recognize us on the street or anything.

Of course when we stop using our faces what about all these cosmetic companies with their wrinkle removers and all-natural-made-in-China-from-plastic foundation coverage? They’ll have to evolve too. They’ll have to start learning how to decorate the tops of people’s heads with little bows and braids and tinsel and diamonds. Perhaps they’ll start creating hats with imitation faces on the top. That would give us old people something to talk to. And the street people too. I mean if we don’t give the street people and old people something to talk to, they might start getting uppity. We wouldn’t want that. Really.

I’m going to miss faces though I will admit. Kind of like how I miss telephone booths. They were comforting somehow, always there in the morning in the mirror or on the side of the road in an emergency. Oh well… Next week we may discuss whether or not it’s a good idea for people to tattoo faces on their bald spots. That’s an idea that just came off the top of my head. So to speak…

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