Sunday, December 2, 2007

Will that be to stay or to go?

While being escorted out of my local mall recently, I came to some real conclusions regarding the nature of mans existence vis-a-vis machines. It all started earlier in the day when I attempted to buy some iced coffee at the mall's Coffee Conglomerate.

The kiosk was off the main food court, next to the the cinn-a-lard and a PinkBerry (or as I call them, Dachau II).
After elbowing and and hip-checking my way to the line, I asked the cute as a button sales teen for an "iced coffee, please." After entering my order on the Marketroid 3000 (C) computer, she smiled at me in that comatose, corporate expression, precisely as the training DVD instructed her to do, and said, "Do you want that to stay or to go?"

I stared back at her, frozen. To stay or to go? I looked around. There was one chair, one table, and one stand with fake sugar and some cooling sleeves. "What, exactly," I had to ask, "is the difference between 'to-go' and 'to-stay? Are you saying that if I opt for 'to stay', you will serve it to me in one of the porcelain, $12.99 oversized mugs on sale here? That an alarm will sound if I take my coffee beyond the invisible borders of the store?" With that little smile still plastered on her face, she uttered a profound comment on our society: "Oh, it's just something the computer tells me to ask. It's the same either way."

And you know what? She's right. Better to just placate the computer's desires and ask a pointless question countless times a day, then go through the trouble of an Independent Thought. The fears of sci-fi writers of the 1950's, that computers would one day become sentient and force a brave but outgunned humanity to its knees, were wrong; We don't require death rays or giant robots to submit to the will of the computer. We have done it to ourselves through our lazy, shrugging boredom in the face of the massive mainframe. Skynet is active. They have already won.

It was only after I challenged her slavish devotion to the inventory control device that I realized we can free ourselves. To start, you might want to turn off the Internet for a few hours a day. Dust off the old Lite-Brite for some classic analog art. Or, if you are faced with a dilemma like mine, ask the girl if (hypothetically speaking), the computer told her to take off her top and start playing with her tits, would she do it? Baby steps, people, baby steps.

They may dismiss you as a luddite or a Level 2 sex offender, but if you speak the truth, it will eventually set you free. And the ankle bracelet they give you at the police station is so Web 2.0.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suggest you do what your parents did. Get a job, Sir!