Thursday, October 29, 2009

Texting - Welcome to the New Idiocracy

Anyone remember the 2006 movie Idiocracy? No? Well, that's not entirely surprising. It was written and directed by Mike Judge (Office Space), and starred Luke Wilson (Vacancy). Despite the enormous success of Office Space and the popularity of Judge's King of the Hill, 20th Century Fox pro-actively killed the movie, releasing it in less than 150 theatres, without a single trailer or press kit. The motives behind Fox's decision to derail Judge's movie remains an issue of much contention, and most folks who've seen the movie can venture a few guesses as to why. The movie grossed less than $500,000 - barely a quarter of it's estimated 4 million dollar budget - but still managed to develop a rather sizable cult following.

The movie envisions a world 500 years into the future, where a bizarre type of reverse natural selection has taken place. A cryogenically frozen Wilson awakens to find himself in a society where the intelligent and even marginally cognitive elite have become virtually extinct, having been out-bred by pot-smoking, beer chugging, video gaming, Perez Hilton twittering morons. The result is a world dominated by slack-jawed idiots, whose only preoccupations seem to be violent reality TV shows and excessive consumerism. Hospitals have only two diagnoses, "'Retarded" or "F#$ked up", and the world is facing a massive draught resulting from crops being watered with an energy drink called "Brawndo" whose slogan is "It's got electrolytes - It's what plants crave". James Bowman wryly suggested that the movie got the plug because; " today's (progressives), a future world where they are not in charge, having put right all the world's wrongs, is almost inconceivable."

Bowman's jab is delightful, but liberals aside, it feels like we are already living in an "idiocracy", resulting more from behaviour than breeding. Exhibit A is the absolutely eerie obsession with texting. A few weeks ago I called a friend's cell for several hours, but could not get a response until I finally left a text message, which was immediately returned. It appears she was unwilling to answer the phone because she had been too preoccupied with dwarf typing. She was fully aware that people were calling, but couldn't quite pry her thumbs away from her Blackberry crack pipe.

Even more disconcerting is the weird way that Internet acronyms have snuck their way into our modern day lexicon. It was annoying enough when they first reared their ugly head over a decade ago in emails, causing the less Internet savvy to become instant cold war code breakers. By 1999, I had deciphered such gems as btw, brb, omg, imo, and for the more modest among us, imho. The most irritating of these letter bombs has always been ttfn (tata for now). Who in the hell would actually say that to anyone? Have we turned into a society of gay Victorian socialites? I am fairly certain the last time anyone ever said "tata" to me was as an infant being admonished for missing the toilet - but how in God's earth did these literary abortions find their way into our every day vernacular?

I was gob-smacked the first time someone - without the slightest trace of irony - said "O-M-G" to me in the process of expressing surprise. I thought they were referring to some kind of car insurance company until the full horror of what had just happened dawned on me. Later that week someone layed down a "WTF?" on me, and I sadly resigned myself to the fact that our society has become so lazy and idiotic that full words, let alone complete sentences, are far too taxing on our constitutions.

There is also an emotional component to all this, worth addressing since we live in the age of feeling and the "cult of authenticity." Facebook - Cyber-crack laced with meth. Judging by some of my friends' profile updates, they don't eat, sleep or go to work - and if they do, they are probably doing so while texting their latest inane "quote of the day" from the Facebook application on their Blackberry. It's also encouraging all kinds of passive aggressive behaviours in people - De-friending, friend blocking, and status updates meant to embarrass someone over something they seemingly didn't have the maturity to simply discuss with the person face to face. Do people not realize there are real life consequences to what they say and do on the Internet, or have we become so disconnected from reality that we have blurred the line to such a degree that it no longer exists?

Maybe Judge's Idiocracy got the axe because it had struck a nerve that had already become raw 3 years ago. I think we have stepped on the crack that broke our mother's back, and there's no returning from the precipice.

Oh well. WTF. I have to update my Facebook profile.

Maybe my favorite song siren Regina Spektor said it best.



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