You’ve seen WALL-E right? The Disney/Pixar film about a time when we’ve crapped on Mother Nature for so long that we’ve actually had to go into space to enable us to keep doing it from above. I mean it’s a lovely, heartwarming story about a trash recycling robot cannibalizing the corpses of his dead compatriots to lengthen his own, worthless, existence. At least, we assume that this is how he gets his spare parts – I mean, he could hide behind piles of rubbish that he’s personally collected and hi-jack other WALL-E units when they come to clear it up and tear them to pieces with a pound-shop tin-opener that he came across one day. But anyway… Remember the last third of the film where he finds his way onto the BnL liner Axiom and all the humans are obese and swan around in floaty chairs and have all their needs catered for by a central computer (and presumably a lot of hidden vacuum tubes)?
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Did you feel a pang of guilt the first time you watched that? Did you look down at yourself and think, “Am I really supposed to be able to balance a ready-meal for four hungry adults on my stomach? Even when I'm crying heavy tears of self-loathing onto myself?” before fumbling around to grab the remote control that’s just about to slide down between the sofa cushion and the arm and you remember that last time you had to use the app on your phone to claim on your house insurance because it got caught up in the auto-reclining mechanism and you had to tell them that next door’s dog broke in and ate it?
No? Really? Are you sure? Because I’ve seen naked pictures of you and… To be honest… It’s gonna take more than a seaweed wrap and a quinoa & kale smoothie to sort either of us out. But it’s not our fault is it? Not really, when you think about it.
It’s technology’s fault… The modern world is changing how we interact with everyday life.
Science, certainly every major scientific discovery of the past hundred years or so, has been to make our life easier. Everything now is remote controlled, or heuristic, or there’s an app for it, or a prophylactic against it, or it’s more difficult to die from, or easier to insert into an orifice, or you don’t need to actually stand up to do it, or lie down, or squat precariously over a drain. You get the picture right? You don’t have to actually ‘do’ anything anymore. If you snap your toilet seat in half, you can just tell your phone (or your broadband connected personal assistant presence) to order you a new one. If you do this before 6:00pm, the chances are that it’ll be dropped off later that same day by drone.
If you want to watch virtually any film that’s ever been produced ever, you can find it online, you can watch it on your 60” Smart TV without suffering the ignominy of walking down to Blockbuster… Or even getting up from your chair. You can have your shopping delivered directly to your front door with alternatives provided where those items have proved too popular (but not where you’ve made unhealthy food choices) You can change electricity supplier, entertainment supplier, sexual partner and/or pet with the touch of a virtual button.
When was the last time any of us hunted or gathered? Have you ever chased down an Impala on the boundless plains of the Serengeti? Have you ever even eaten a fish that you’ve caught yourself? Or opened a tin of ravioli with a hammer and chisel because you’ve broken the tin opener and can’t be bothered to go to the corner shop for a new one?
Have you ever looked at your monthly outgoings and shook your head because half of your outgoings are spent on labour saving devices and the other half is your gym membership?
Is it that we’re lazy? Is it because it’s how we display our dominance nowadays?
‘Look at how much I don’t have to do’ – ‘I’m so important that I don’t even have to actually exist anymore’ – ‘look at me fading away until there’s nothing left except the recurring reminder on Outlook activating the voice synthesizer on my phone telling my Google Home to buy more parrot food every three weeks.’, 'Look at the skeleton of my parrot.'
Maybe it’s time for us all to go off-grid and start afresh?
Just let me Google where the best place for me to do that would be. Should just take a minute.