Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I am just back from a sanity trip to Florida where we spent several days on Marco Island. The temperatures were around high sixties on average but still a welcome change from New Hampshire. Today it is 8 in Concord and promises to go sub-zero tomorrow. Welcome back.

I had an interesting trip down as I sat directly across the aisle from a well-known and much liked television personality from the sixties and seventies. He was still a very likeable personality but was well past the age where he should be travelling alone (which he was). Just in the boarding process he lost his ticket and spilled his coffee. A kind-hearted seatmate took him under her wing and arranged a wheelchair for when they landed, but it was a sad thing to see what probably lays in store for all of us who live to advanced age. Even the famous get old.

We also had the opportunity to see a really interesting film while we were down there. Her is an independent film by Spike Jonze and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Scarlett Johannsen. It is set a little into the future and is about a man who falls in love with a computer voice which is capable of feelings, growth and emotion. This is a marketed product sold to people who basically need company.

In it you watch the real and virtual worlds blend. It leaves you with plenty to think about as our society gradually is absorbed by digital bits and pieces.

I wonder how young people will meet in the future. Kids are growing up without knowing their neighbors (no girl next door). They work in isolated, detached environments. Religion is less of a factor in most American's lives. Where do people meet for meaningful relationships? More and more it seems to be on the internet.

It seems like the movie's point may be an accurate one in that it will be harder and harder for people to discern the difference between the real and virtual worlds.

This is something I addressed a few years ago in Virtual Reality (In the Cat's Eye, Snap Screen Press, 2009). Sadly, it appears to be coming true for more of our population as people start to seek shelter from the complexities of our civilization.


Virtual Reality


 

He is a man who chases rabbits,

Dressed in a turtle’s hard-shelled habits.

One of an army of timid souls,

Hiding in plush-lined people holes.

 

Tightrope walking on a druggist’s knife,

His computer makes an avatar wife.

Ones and zeros have set him free,

To drown alone in a digital sea.