Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Screens and Boxes

It's amazing how sitting in one place in front of a screen for eight hours a day makes one so tired!

I've been working temporary jobs (mostly just when someone needs a fill-in receptionist or whatever for an afternoon or a few days), and the workload's been low as of late. But this week I've been working full-time, and on Tuesday I noticed this pattern that I'd fallen into:
  • 8am-5pm: at work, surfing the 'net and answering the phones (save half an hour's lunch break)
  • 5-5:20pm: driving home
  • 5:20-7pm: watching TV with my sister
  • 6:15-6:45pm: eating while watching TV
  • 7-10:30pm: sitting in my room, on the computer
  • 10:30pm: start getting ready for bed and for work tomorrow
I compare this experience with other working friends and find that they're in the same predicament. Why is it that we are so drawn to technology, to machines that engage our brains (and maybe our fingers) but little else? Why is it so difficult, in today's fast-food / instant-communication society, to be disconnected? Why must I fight the feeling that it's essential to have read through all the latest news articles and blog posts before I can tackle cleaning my room? Is something disastrous going to happen if, at any moment, I'm not fully aware of the far-reaching implications of the latest insult Sen. Obama has leveled at Gov. Palin?

Of course not. But being aware of the goings-on of the world, and even simply being in constant communication with one's friends and peers, give one a sense of intellectual power and unity of purpose. Even having watched the latest episode of American Idol gives one a strong sense of solidarity with the rest of the nation.

Maybe it's just because my generation is so comfortable on computers that we look to them for refuge even when we're seeking refuge from too much time spent on computers. Maybe it's also connected to the vast reaches of the internet. I'm reminded of one bullet-point from the fantastic Evil Overlord List:
Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.
That does sound something like working as a receptionist, except that I have the interruptions of the occasional phone call or doorbell.

None of my jobs were ever fancy enough to give me
a headset, but this gives the general idea.
And as for the TV, I'm reminded of a scene from Stargate: Atlantis in which two men from earth (Sheppard and McKay), are discussing with two crew members who are not from earth (Ronon and Teyla) what their respective peoples do for entertainment. For sake of clarity, earthmen are blue and aliens are green.
Ronon Dex: So people just sit and watch this box for hours at a time?
Maj. John Sheppard: Yeah, people do.
Teyla Emmagon: Is it that engaging?
Sheppard: Depends what's on it. There are lots of programs on dozens of channels, every day, all day.
Dr. Rodney McKay: Most of which are fictional representations of ridiculously attractive people in absurd situations
Sheppard: There are educational programs, all sorts of documentaries. Not many people watch 'em but, uh, well, they're on.
Ronon: And that's what everybody on your planet does for entertainment? Watch a box?
Well... Kind of. Humbling, isn't it? Makes me want to stop in at the health club on the way home fromwork and go for a run on the machines. I know, that still has me inside an air-conditioned building using a machine, but it's progress. Baby steps.

1 comment:

  1. And they have a TV for you to watch when you are on the treadmill. You still can't get away. (run outside :) )


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...