Ok, from where I sit behind my keyboard, it seems most people out there need a good, long nap. And it’s not even yet December 1.
What, did Cyber Monday turn everyone into little hand-cramped, stuff-lusted, googly-eyed zombies? Did our computers suck the actual (as opposed to virtual, which would be just too convenient a pun) life out of us? We’ve got a long way to go, people — January is a month away, and we all know that no one really rests until then.
Yes, I’m remembering the adage that when one of my fingers points at you, there are three pointing back at me. I’m tired, too. My eyes hurt, too. I didn’t even buy much yesterday, but it seems I spent much of the day looking at things and wondering whether I should buy them. It’s exhausting work.
And then my world was somewhat rocked last night, after reading this brilliant movie review by one of my favorite contemporary authors, Zadie Smith. Her review of The Social Network was less movie review, more social commentary on how a 19-year old college student absorbed our lives. I recommend the read (when you have more than a few moments to spare) — but it’s left me with that general feeling of dread over what’s becoming to not just one generation of humans, but humanity as a whole. Not really in a moral sense, but a what is real sense.
(At this point, I feel like Garrison Keilor’s voice-over should be announcing that what we all need is a piece of rhubarb pie, or maybe ketchup.)
Which isn’t a bad segue. Because as I was driving this morning, on the outer loop freeway around Indianapolis, following the directions of the electronic voice booming from the navigator on my fancy smartphone (I’m getting to test-drive an Android, many thanks to Verizon for conveniently getting my whole family addicted to Angry Birds), feeling a bit over-digitized myself (even though I’m personally no longer on Facebook, and yes, I hang my hat on that peg) — I just kept thinking about food. And that feeling of panic, of beginning to float above the surface of the earth, looking down on a projection of myself made up entirely of Matrix-like zeroes and ones driving a Honda Odyssey, began to recede.
I thought about listening to Marketplace Money last Saturday, hearing a segment on home-canning, and how there’s a resurgence among middle-class Americans to go back to the kitchen. I thought about our local food movement here in Indy, and hearing Michael Pollan talk a couple weeks ago, and about the ever-present wisdom of Wendell Berry, whose essays are currently my nighttime reading. I thought about the fact that, with food, the trend seems to be going in a direction opposite digital. That many people in our community view technological progress as something to avoid in food.
That, last time I checked, an apple was still an apple. That we still bite them and chew them and swallow them, and you can’t get a sense of their sweetness and juiciness unless you do that. That they still grow on trees, trees that grow in orchards, orchards that need rain and sun.
And these things, no matter what the next 2.0’ers (2.1’ers? 3.0’ers?) can pull out of their virtual magic hats, will not ever be controlled or consumed via screen.