Well, that was quick.
So quick, in fact, that I’m a bit disappointed in myself.
I got this book five years ago from my sister, for my 16th birthday. That I let this book sit on the bookshelf for five years makes me feel as guilty as the very people the book talks about. For five years, I couldn’t be bothered to pick up a book that took barely five hours to read?
(more after the jump)
What is wrong with this picture?
Not that it would have done a whole lot of good back then. I wasn’t the most thoughtful or reflective teenager, and I think most of the story’s nuances would have been lost on me.
As it is now, I can see so many parallels to life as I know it now. This book could be published for the first time today and it would hold up. There are technologies in the book that we don’t have (yet), and technologies in the real world that the book doesn’t anticipate, but there is just enough similarity to make anyone who thinks about them too long more than a little uncomfortable.
The one glaring similarity is the “always on” culture. One which is always connected, yet eternally disconnected at the same time. How many of us, first thing in the morning, walk to our computers, pull up our web browsers and check our email, Facebook, blog subscriptions, the news, the latest article from “Cracked” or “The Onion.” The internet has become an extension of ourselves and we are constantly talking to it, asking it questions, “talk to me, tell me what I want to know. Tell me about the latest Hollywood hook-up, break-up, death. Show me the glittery new trailer for the latest action thriller. Show me something that will leave me with my jaw on the floor, something that will blow me away. But don’t let it make me think, for God’s sake, anything but that.“
We talk in text. 140 characters or less. We talk on our own time, ignoring that text message until it’s convenient, and if our reply isn’t timely enough for the subject, just ignore it. Anything more than an hour old is irrelevant. Old news. We tell the whole world what we ate for breakfast because we want to connect but we don’t know how. So we talk on and on about nothing. It’s frustrating to be in the same room with people of my generation because they talk and they talk but they never say anything.
There has been something there, something that bothered me for such a long time, that I couldn’t put my finger on. Something ridiculous and unsatisfying and frustrating about trying to have a conversation with anyone. and all it took was a short little 165 page book, one that I could read in a single sitting, to figure it out. It was the people, wandering from day to day, from this to that, not learning, not growing. Stagnant. Not a thought or care in the world. Dimly aware that things are happening in the world, things that are important, and that need to change. But they’re sad to think about, so let’s think on something else. Let’s think about that great episode of our favorite TV show. Let’s think about our dead grandmother’s ghost visiting us in our sleep, although that might have just been a dream, but it’s happier to think that it was her so we’ll just say it was.
Just some thoughts that came to me as I read. I’ll never take a good book for granted again.
Something else, not anywhere near as serious, that kept coming up as I read. I saw this video a couple months back when it was originally posted, and it made me laugh. It seems appropriate to this post. Heads up, this video is NSFW.