There is a powerful short story, referred to in Fahrenheit 451, called The Pedestrian, by the late great sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury.
A man regularly goes for a stroll through the empty streets of a big futuristic metropolis to observe and absorb the world outside his door.
One night a robotic patrol car stops him in his meandering and inquires as to why he is walking and not at home watching TV and interacting with the computer-interactive community.
His response that he enjoyed solitary walking results in him being arrested and incarcerated in an insane asylum.
Bradbury wrote this story in annoyance when he and a companion walking the streets of LA were accosted by the police and had to justify their walk to the officers.
I recall a moment in my own travels when I found myself hitchhiking on the side of a freeway outside Phoenix and being stopped by the police for being a pedestrian beside a high-speed road.
The results were similar to Bradbury’s walker…
I wrote in my post Taming the Black Dog how I am sometimes prone to depression.
One of the things that often set these bouts of blackness off is the discomfort I sometimes feel in this modern electronically-obsessed world.
As followers of this blog are aware I have been attempting to find gainful steady employment in the city of Geneva, five hours’ distance from my home by the Lake of Constance.
I have taken the time, energy and funds to visit in person places where my services might be desirable.
Yet more respect is given to the candidate who applies electronically than to the candidate who shows initiative by personally visiting them.
Often these visits remain unacknowledged.
No emails or phone calls confirming the visit or thanking a candidate for considering the employer.
When did personal effort and contact become less significant than email?
Whatever happened to professional courtesy and basic politeness?
Everywhere I go I see many examples of discourtesy as a result of the use of electronics.
People will go up to a food counter and order a coffee without once looking up from their smart phone screens or without halting their conversations on their cell phones.
People will ride public transport and force those around them to listen into their mobile conversations whether the audience wishes to or not.
People will watch TV with a friend yet simultaneously play music on their I-pods and surf the net.
I have seen people in a restaurant sitting together yet communicating not with the ones at the table with them but rather staring at their damn portable devices.
This division of attention by these folks is impolite and improper to others, yet telling these folks this only results in looks of incomprehension and annoyance.
How dare one question their liberties!
Why is it considered so unreasonable to concentrate on one thing at a time?
There is a great scene in the animated film A.E (After Earth) where a young Earthling teenager brags to his alien co-worker that he is the hope of humanity.
The alien brilliantly responds with:
“I weep for the species.”
When I consider this modern age of electronic obsession and its devotees and how their oddness has led to a cold mechanical world I barely recognize…
I weep for the species.