Monday, July 8, 2013

"Soylent Green And The Human Alienation of Now"

Does anyone remember that scene in the movie Soylent Green when the great actor Edward G. Robinson, playing an old man, weary of a world of food shortages, and savagery, elects to end his life at the Soylent Green corporation?

The seemingly benign conglomerate offers all takers a divine departure.  They hook the "patient" up with wires and offer the digital delight of images of a more glorious world of the past.   We share in Robinson's carnival of image delight as he soars over fields of flowers, pristine beaches and all the beauty of a world now long gone.  Of course the price of admission is the body and the life, the corpse to be ground up and fed to those who elect to live in a soulless and savage world.

While we have certainly not reached a point where the food supply fails to meet human needs, I couldn't help but see a parallel between old Edward G., wired for delight to feed the soul, and our own society's being all too willing to delight in the "virtual" in lieu seeking the richness of the human connection.

I had just recently read on a travel message board a sad commentary on the Gen Y's embracing, in fact, preferring the "virtual" to the "physical".  The young fellow, from Arizona, was asked about his take on a visit to the Grand Canyon.  Though the Gen Y'er lives less than a hundred miles from this "wonder of the world" he says that he has never visited it but had taken a virtual tour of it on the internet and confessed that it looked marvelous on his computer screen.

This phenomena is not confined to "virtual tourism".  Thanks to "Social Networking" we can now keep in touch with friends and family members, share experiences, photos, and indeed, ideas, without ever having to actually be with them.  We need not have to put up with their visits to our homes, we don't have to serve them a meal, or pickup after them, or wear false smiles as they depart our drive way.

We can offer expressions of undying love via the ethernet and never give them another thought.  We can present ourselves in a better light than we indeed deserve.  We can sit in our undershorts and profess to be donned in tuxedo, having just returned from the opera.

The cowardly and the meek can be 6 foot tall, ripped and ready for the arena.  This is especially true on the political boards where the level of savagery toward our politicians and each other has never been greater.

Yes, we can now lie, love and hate from great distances....and with great success!

Perhaps someday, like old Eddie, we can just elect to get wired up, have some feeding tubes inserted (or not) and elect to live in a totally virtual world.

Sad.  Damned Sad.


Ken said...

Did you see a movie called "Good Will Hunting"? Robin Williams talking to Matt Damon counseling him regarding his virtual knowledge, to paraphrase, "you've read volumes on the Vatican but have you ever been there? Ever looked up to see the ceilings in that beautiful chapel, breathe in deep and smell the smells of the ancient city?" Anyway, I thought that really said it all with regard to virtual vs. reality.
I love Google earth, I explore the world there frequently, but having been blessed with some great world travels I know to be there is infinitely better. I know talking over coffee is so much more rewarding than this medium. Good column, thanks

JustCommonSense said...

Ken, being a big history nut I'm familiar with the value of "place". I had read volumes about our country's founding but it was never as "real" as when I stood on Washington's back porch at Mount Vernon and gazed across the Potomac....or at Jefferson's museum where I could look at the tools and writings and implements and personal belongings of our Declaration's author.

I read dozens of books about civil war battles but they became all too real a few years ago when I walked the same battlefields and got a sense of what it was like on that fateful day of struggle.

thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

in the day of convenenience people can just do go to self check outs abd scan their purchases and never say hello...a robotic world like "A Clockwork Orange"movie.
texting replacing talking is also very alienating.we become aliens this way and just not have the warmth of each other..what kind of world is this...walking dead..eww

A Modest Scribler said...

Too true, anon. Thanks for your comments.