Posts Tagged 'Digital Age'









Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine members of the congregation of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015, has been called a tragedy—and it certainly was.

Yet the mindlessly destructive events that have occurred—and are still occurring—in the wake of that tragedy are even more tragic.

Almost no one even knew who Dylann Roof was, until he was charged with that massacre—and proudly confessed to it.

As soon as anyone knew he had a personal website—a blog—everyone attempted to see it.

His personal website—his blog—The Last Rhodesian, was pulled from the Internet—but not before countless photographs from that site were distributed on social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter.

There was only one Confederate flag featured in a few of those photographs—a cheap, souvenir-sized Confederate battle flag that Dylann Roof didn’t even have on his person when he committed that vicious crime.

Yet millions of mindless, Digital-Age smartphone addicts went berserk when they saw that souvenir-sized battle flag—and gave Republican Nikki Haley an easy way out of examining the gun laws in the state of which she was governor.

Hundreds of almost exclusively White, young protesters showed up on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina—protesting something of which they had no understanding, whatsoever.

At the time, no one even knew what had incited all these mindless, Digital-Age protesters—all from privileged backgrounds—in the first place.

It was a Twitter post: #TakeDownTheFlag (Hashtag: Take Down The Flag!). It was immediately after this mindless Digital-Age scene that Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a speech in which she blamed a mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina, on a historical flag in Columbia, South Carolina.

This is why I choose not to have a cellphone or smartphone.

This is why I choose not to have a Facebook or Twitter account.

This is why I choose to limit the Digital-Age technology in my life.

What’s especially sad is that I would have to murder nine people in a place of worship before you would even read this post.

Or I would have to exploit the murder of nine people in a place of worship—for my own political career—before you would even read this post.

That’s how shallow this Goddamned Digital Age is.

That’s how mindless this Goddamned Digital Age is.

That’s how tragic this Goddamned Digital Age is.

And that’s how godless this Goddamned Digital Age is.


No weather forecast in the world has that hurricane landing anywhere near Escambia County, Florida.

But countless Escambia County, Florida residents don’t know this—because they never watch the local television news.

They rely on Facebook and Twitter for all of their (mis)information.

And they are mindlessly panicking because they do.

And because of their mindlessness, those of us who drink bottled water on a daily basis cannot acquire any, here in Escambia County, Florida.

The mindless cellphone and smartphone addicts are buying up all our water.

The mindless Facebook and Twitter addicts are buying up all our water.

Before this mindless Digital Age, we only had to prepare for hurricanes.

Now we have to prepare, not for hurricanes, but mindless panic over hurricanes.

Mindless panic caused by unrestrained Digital-Age technology.

Mindless panic caused by people who are too stupid to get rid of their mindless cellphones and smartphones—and get landline phones again.

Mindless panic caused by people who are too stupid to close their Facebook and Twitter accounts—and use blogs to get their messages across.

The day is coming when people will be killed, not by natural disasters, but by mindless panic over natural disasters—perpetuated by mindless addiction to cellphones and smartphones, and mindless reliance on Facebook and Twitter.

People will be killed simply because other people are too stupid to get rid of their cellphones and smartphones, and too stupid to close their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Yet all honest reflection on dealing with the Goddamned Digital Age is aggressively censored and suppressed.


Queen’s “We Are The Champions” was the graduation theme song for the class of 1984 at Murphy High School, in Mobile, Alabama.  It was probably the graduation theme song for numerous classes before that, since it was released in 1977.  I was among six commencement speakers chosen by the senior and junior classes for the ceremony–at which the Murphy High School chorus sang the song, accompanied by the Murphy High School band.

“We Are The Champions” is not even one of my favorite Queen songs, let alone my favorite songs, in general.  The lyrics are simpler than those of my favorite Queen songs–and the music is not nearly as complex.  Yet note the passionate singing of Freddie Mercury–and the unforgettable instrumentation of the band, particularly the electric-guitar artistry.  And note the raw, wild, real, personal, sincere, human interaction between the band and the audience.

Yes, this is the kind of music that was played at graduation ceremonies and sporting events before the Digital Age.





No, this is not a commercial–this is the kind of music that is played at graduation ceremonies and sporting events in this Digital Age.  There is no band–all of the music is digitally programmed, and electronically produced.  And the lyrics are not just simple–they’re totally simplistic, and indescribably trite.  The singing isn’t passionate at all–it’s completely contrived.  And there is no interaction with an audience because the only audience is an unseen collective of smartphone addicts–none of whom are even interacting with each other.

This is Digital-Age decadence.


Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Matthew 23:24

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

2 Corinthians 11:14-15

These are the days of miracle and wonder and don’t cry baby, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.

Paul Simon

In 1910, in a nun’s nightmare . . . drivers talk on tiny telephones, and tap on tiny typewriters while driving–killing themselves, other drivers, and pedestrians, as a result.


Let me begin this post by assuring readers that in using the term, Goddamned, in its title, I am not, from any religious perspective, “using the Lord’s name in vain.” No, I am not using the name, God, lightly or meaninglessly at all–I am quite serious in using it.  Because if anything is damned by God, the Digital Age is; if anything is swallowing a camel, while straining at a gnat, the Digital Age is; if anything is Satan disguised as an angel of light, the Digital Age is; if anything is miracle and wonder which ultimately end the world with a whimper, the Digital Age is; if anything is industrial-scale slaughter on the world’s highways, the Digital Age is.

Yet I use Digital-Age technology to condemn the Digital Age.  Hypocrisy–or good-old-fashioned poetic justice?  I think the latter.  But you decide for yourself.

This Digital-Age technology–it’s like it wasn’t supposed to happen.  It’s like some traveler from the future, from another dimension, or from another solar system or galaxy caused it.  I grew up in the Space Age.  And that was the direction in which technology was moving–toward space exploration.  Then something went wrong.

One day, in my fourth-grade class, the teacher asked us what we wanted to do when we grew up.  I said I wanted to be a starship captain.  No one laughed–this seemed quite feasible.  Another boy said he’d like to be a trucker.  And the teacher commented that he’d probably be driving an airborne truck–that there would probably be flying cars and trucks by then.  And no one laughed.  This really did seem quite feasible to most adults, as well as children.

Even after the last manned moon landing, the Space Age continued–with the space shuttle program, and eventually an orbiting space station (all this Space-Age technological development despite the costly arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union).

Then NASA scrapped the space shuttle program–so U.S. astronauts would now have to rely on Ultranationalist Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime for transportation to and from the International Space Station.

Yet Space-Age technology wasn’t discontinued so much as it was replaced–by Digital-Age technology.  And a human species looking toward interstellar escape from its crowded, polluted cage found itself even more confined to its crowded, polluted cage–with the added torment of ever-increasing social chaos.  The Space Age, which was to free humanity, was replaced with the Digital Age, which further confined humanity.  Something went wrong–and this was it.

It wasn’t called the Digital Age in the beginning–it was called the Age of Information or the Information Age.  And it wasn’t such a monster, in the beginning either.

My brother Mike spoke favorably of compact discs in the early 1980s.  This was Digital-Age technology.  But compact discs were expensive then–compact disc players far more expensive.  We were fine with records and tapes.

Personal computers, in the late 1970s and 1980s, also used Digital-Age technology.  But I never had one of these–most people didn’t.  We didn’t need these.  We have to have personal computers these days, and this takes the fun out of them.  Before the Internet, we didn’t have to.  So computers were fun, and cool.  And we enjoyed watching movies centering around these fun, cool devices, like Electric Dreams and Wargames.

And we enjoyed playing the new computer games (later called video games)–away from home.  These used Digital-Age technology.  My favorites were Phoenix, Robotron, Time Pilot, Ms. Pac Man, and sometimes Defender.  My brother-in-law Tom introduced me to these games.  And my friend Joseph invited me to go along with him and his family and friends to play them.  We used to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s to play them.  The children would eat the pizza–we teenagers would play video games.

One evening there I really stole the show playing Robotron.  On one quarter, one game, I began racking up points fast.  And the other teenagers noticed, stood back and watched as I beat the high score.  I felt great–and was so excited that, when I got home, my dad asked what was wrong with me–asked if I’d been smoking marijuana, or something, in a strongly disapproving tone.  He rarely allowed me to be exuberant about anything.

We wouldn’t play video games at home–we’d play video games at places like Chuck E. Cheese’s, and at video arcades.  It was a social thing.  We didn’t sit home alone playing these–we got out among other people.

And something else: These games didn’t incite violence.  If we shot at anything, we shot at robots, warplanes, or spaceships.  We didn’t get points for killing other humans–we got points for saving them.  This was the case with Robotron.  This was even the case with Terminator 2: Judgment Day–we lost points if we shot other humans.

I remembered this with great concern as I saw one of my nephews playing Mortal Combat and other such games, years later.  You weren’t supposed to kill other humans–but these goddamned games rewarded you for killing other humans. And they still do.

The video game, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, followed the 1991 film.  By this time, Robotron had been removed from most video arcades, lobbies, and rooms–along with Phoenix, Time Pilot, and Defender.  (Sometime in the mid 1990s, I found a long-removed Time Pilot game outside a warehouse.  I asked about purchasing it.  I was told I could buy it for $400–but also told that if when the computer console broke down, I wouldn’t be able to order replacement parts because they were no longer manufactured.  I had $400, but chose not to purchase it for that reason.  Maybe I should have–I might have worn played it out in a day, or in a decade.)

By 1990, I learned of word processing in my Advanced Fiction Writing class.  This was Digital-Age technology.  My instructor had a word processor–some of the other students had word processors.  I couldn’t afford a word processor–I used my recently-deceased brother Mike’s electronic typewriter.  Yet this worked well for me.

The Internet was still a novelty in the early 1990s–most people weren’t online then.  As I recall, even the names Internet and Worldwide Web were used interchangeably.  Singles groups were still the thing, singles bars were still the thing–there was even telephone dating (although no one called it that).  I met a lot of single women through the Mobile Singles Line.  Mobile was one of many cities nationwide that had a singles phone line that was part of Call America Systems in Florida.  Most singles lines charged you by the minute–they were ripoffs.  The Mobile Singles Line–like all singles lines run by Call America Systems–had a flat weekly, monthly, or bimonthly fee ($20, $30, or $40 respectively).  I could call as many times as I liked, leave messages for as many women as I liked, and listen to as many messages as I liked.  Unlike the Pensacola Singles Line, the Mobile Singles Line always worked for me–I met a woman I’d end up dating, every time I signed up.  I couldn’t see the women over the phone, of course–but I could hear their voices, and I could make sure they were who what they said they were.

And letter-writing was still in style–I wrote single women all over the world, women whose addresses I’d received from International Pen Friends, a Dublin-based pen pal organization that would share addresses of members (with their consent, of course) for a reasonable fee.

In the mid 1990s, I finally obtained a compact disc (CD) player (a portable stereo with a dual cassette drive, radio, and CD player).  I even remember my first CD–Ray Stevens’ Greatest Hits (“The Streak” and “It’s Me Again, Margaret” were are my favorites–hilarious, timeless).  From there, I began building my CD collection.

And my parents got me a word processor on sale.  It was a wonderful device–no Internet connection, I didn’t need one.  It was wonderful being able to write and revise almost simultaneously.  And the Tetris game on one of the disks was a lot of fun too.

During this time I had a friend named Joe.  Joe was a very private person, with some interesting takes on life.  He was the only person I’ve ever known who didn’t have a telephone–he didn’t want to be bothered with constant phone calls. He laughingly told about how one of the guys where he worked had just gotten Internet service–how he was bragging about having AOL.  For a lot of people, Internet access was just a status symbol then–at least that’s how they came across to others.

And though Joe had a television, he rarely watched it–he spent most of his free time reading books.  He once said that television was the worst thing ever invented.  I hadn’t thought of that before, but I realized he was right.  Television did so much more harm than good (as it still does).  Yet looking back, television was the first worst thing ever invented–the Internet would become the next.  And cellphones and other such mobile devices would follow–in the most nightmarish way.