Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Years manifest 2011

there may be a lot of bad, but all clouds have a silver lining...

Well, another year goes by, and life goes on for those still living. The economy flounders and more people than ever stay at home, relying on the internet and social sites like Facebook to stay in touch. I don't remember the last time I had an actual phone conversation with a friend. Video Games have become a part of mainstream culture, as have fringe groups like Vampire Freaks and Furries, they are the new "Goths" and "Punks", while those previous groups have become more of a regular demographic than a subculture, like they were ten years ago. Everything from the aforementioned video games to movies and children's shows now has fan fiction and even porn to go along with it. Everything inevitably becomes a franchise or at least a trilogy, and every new movie not based on a comic, game, or TV series is actually just a remake of a film from several decades ago, sometimes under a different title, since nobody reads enough books to base high-grossing films on them anymore.

Metal, my favorite music type, has become fashionable again, only with the suffix of "core" attached to it's most popular type, because "Metalcore" sounds much heavier than just saying "Heavy Metal", while anything popular that isn't Metal contains more samples and auto-tune than the Hip-Hop of the last decade. Everything is digital now, even books apparently (for those who still read them), and everything from Televisions to disc players now requires superfluous internet connectivity because the manufacturers replace physical components that last for years with "firmware" that can corrupt and become outdated when new features we don't use becomes available to us. There is a lowercase "i" before everything now, even products not made by Apple, and people have replaced their memories and sense of accountability with portable devices that do it for them but cost an entire month's salary to buy.

So while we all live "Second Lives" online, or "WoW" ourselves into oblivion slaying orcs and raiding virtual dungeons, our children learn more about World War II from a video game and create their own language of abbreviations to fill the void of vocabulary they have from not attending school that won't even accept assignments written by hand because teachers are too lazy to actually read the writing. Private Business and their executives/C.E.O.s have more control over the way we live than our own government, whom is paid by them to be quiet. They are the new Nobles and we the new Peasants. Our presidents just make promises to get elected, regardless of political party, and dilute or remove them once in office to maintain the deteriorating status quot. Not everyone can be a entertainer, athlete, or computer programmer, and not everyone wants to be doctors, lawyers, cops, and firefighters, yet there is not enough opportunity to make a claim to the American Dream because manufacturing, agriculture, and trade vocations (e.g. Carpentry) are all but dead to any natural born citizens because illegal or outsourced labor is more cost-effective. Hackers are the new Burglars and bank Robbers, because it's easier to see someone's browser cookies than mug them on the street corner, and if the world doesn't end in 2012, 4Chan will end it instead on "5/19/13", with sheer concentrated nerd rage. If the matrix is already here, I want my damned red pill already.

Now more than ever, I find the things that matter most are the small things, the things all this technology and warp-speed impulsiveness seem to make most people forget: a home-cooked meal, a nice time spent with family and loved ones (in person, not over a web-chat), a nice walk, or just an hour of listening to a favorite album of music (not a playlist). There is so much culture, art, and beauty in just the ordinary world as we know it that all these ephemeral distractions we replace them with seem empty in comparison. Granted, seeing them requires actually leaving the cocoons we have made of our wired homes, and actually using the muscles and bones we have been given to actually work towards obtaining them (no mouse clicks). Even just a bicycle ride or mile-long walk has more life in it than anything one could download. Even if one cannot walk, there is still much more reward in having a room filled with friends, enjoying each other's company, than an AOL chatroom or InvisionFree forum board. For those who love role playing, are into furries, vampires, dragons, or whatever, try an actual tabletop game like Vampire the Masquerade or Dungeons & Dragons, as they allow imaginative possibilities way beyond any computer game programmer's abilities.

All this anonymity and double-life leading facilitated by telecommunication has made the Human Experience less Human, and as more and more people try to escape their own doomed existence by becoming an alien, a man/fox/whatever, or a high-elf upon a winged steed, I become more aware of who and what I really am, and I revel in it. Even if this world is coming to an end, which I doubt, I will live for the people I love, and with the utmost honor and integrity, stand to defend them and enjoy their presence in my life for as long as they choose to grace me with it. For all of you internet contacts that only know me as an anonymous name and avatar on a screen, making the random intelligent - or unintelligible - remark on your Facebook wall or dA profile, I welcome you to step just a bit closer to me as a friend or even just an acquaintance , because all of us only get equal to what we give, and if you don't like what you get in exchange for what you give, you can whisk me away with just a few mouse clicks (God knows I've perma-banned some idiots online in my day). For everyone else already counted as friends, find some happiness in this new year, and hopefully we can all share a drink soon!!