Thursday, March 22

The Finer Things

Of late, every gathering I've been to has had their conversations unknowingly directed to Facebook posts. A somewhat suspect video of children fighting wars in Africa whose welfare depends on their views on YouTube. A clever cartoon that achieves the "What oft was thought, but never so well expressed" yet again. Some not-so-subtle attempts at shoving in the faces of their 1134 friends, photos of that one time someone went skydiving and thought they found their moment of zen. A furious post about Football from someone who hasn't kicked a ball since pre-pubescence. Or just a clever one-liner to harvest tiny doses of dopamine that show up as red icons on blue bars. Sometimes even a cryptic cry for help. Friends, acquaintances, gadflies, Shes and ex-Shes, distant cousins and more distant ex-best-friends-forever. Everyone shouting from their digital rooftops, clamoring for attention.

I'm very much guilty of most of these crimes. But I'm trying to quit this habit of constant consumption, this addiction of instant gratification, of tl;drs, likes and upvotes, of artless flirtation through emoticons. I go for long walks, consuming only music and fresh air. I sit on the grassy hillock across the library and read a book as sparrows around me chew on cigarette butts. I went to a concert and spent three continuous hours standing, first amazed by the dexterity of the musicians, then by the excitement with which some of those present appreciated the barely audible words which carried little meaning. I might even hazard a trip to the art museum.
Or not. As much as I enjoy these little jaunts into the appreciation of the finer things, I never quite get the same joy as I do in dulling down the senses with reruns of Friends or Frasier or Die Hard. As I down the fourth slice of pizza with ice-and-coke, I realize consumption is the one thing I'm good at.
As is most of my generation. Brought up with Gameboys in one hand and WWE cards in the other, we are defined by the mass-produced products of our times. Slowly turning into Xeroxes of each other, climbing ladders of conformity, feeding off arbitrary standards of achievement as we work in gray cubicles on gray computers, admiring the glow of the half bitten apple. It's easy to get along with people now, because we're all the same. But it's harder to fall in love. There are no eccentricities, no rough-edges which fit perfectly sometimes and hurt deeply at others. Perfectly round spheres of brushed aluminium (much like our laptops), jostling past one another in hopes of the great Pacific and the tranquility that comes with it, not knowing the hopeless disappointment of being one amongst the many, none amongst the many.