Tag Archives: transhumanism

Five disturbing trends in the restaurant industry

There have been a numerous new trends in the restaurant industry over the past decade, and, unfortunately, all of them are bad. Restaurant owners have proven to be susceptible to all the recent technological fads and have  contributed to the generalized dumbing down of society.

  1. Menus with photos.

This trend seems to be most prevalent in Asia and probably began here.  Almost every Asian restaurant that I visit now has a picture menu. Even the most basic, simple, and elementary dish requires an accompanying photo. Take, for example, the classic Vietnamese dish, Pho. It is sold on every street corner of the city, in every Vietnamese restaurant and in every shopping mall. It is eaten in every Vietnamese home. Yet, restaurant owners apparently believe that customers need to see a picture of a soup bowl with noodles inside next to the word ‘Pho.’  A can of coke requires an accompanying photo. So does a bottled water.

These elaborate picture menus require considerably more expense and effort than a good old-fashioned written menu. The pages must be much thicker; indeed, many of these menus are printed on cardboard instead of paper. Or, they are laminated with hard plastic. Picture menus  are often extremely large and one needs to carefully use the entire half of the table to open it. And because fewer items can be printed on each page, thanks to all the photos, the menus must be considerably longer as well. The longest menu I have seen in Southeast Asia was 70 pages.

Picture menus are for children. They have no place in any respectable restaurant. No owner with any sense of pride in his establishment and respect for his customers would have a picture menu. The photos are unnecessary and are a waste of space, time, money, and effort. In the ‘old days,’ owners had to spend time writing creative descriptions of their dishes for their menus. Nowadays, they take the easy way out and slap a photo next to the item. ‘Idiocracy’? We’re living in it.

2. Big Screen Televisions

Televisions in restaurants used to be associated exclusively with sports bars. The idea was to draw in customers who were traveling and wanted to catch their favorite sports team or watch a special game. Sports bars had their place the scheme of things and I never saw much harm in them. One day, though, some restaurant owners who were looking for a new gimmick to increase sales said to themselves, “Hey, maybe we can get a piece of that action. Why should sports bars be the only ones to have televisions? Let’s put a big screen tv up behind the bar and see what happens. We’ll keep everything else the same, but now we can say that we provide a television for the local sports games.”

And so it went. Pretty soon, every other restaurant, reacting to the competition and the trend, installed giant flat screens in their bars and dining rooms as well. The old clearly demarcated line between sports bars and fine dining was obliterated, almost overnight.

Once the televisions have been turned on, managers don’t like to turn them off. As an experiment, I encourage my readers to go to their favorite local restaurant and ask the manager, politely, to turn off the television and see what kind of reaction you get. He will most likely look at you as if you are insane.

A couple of years ago I visited my family in Washington D.C. My brother took me out to a trendy neighborhood with dozens of upscale restaurants. I asked him to take me one without televisions. He thought about it for a moment and replied, “You know, I can’t think of one. I’m pretty sure every single one of these places has a screen.

The invasion of televisions into restaurants has reached a height of absurdity unimaginable even a few years ago. Some resto-bars have a dozen televisions playing, along with music. Combine that with loud customers and street noise and you have a chaotic scene. Even though not a single customer can be seen who is actually viewing one of the screens, managers refuse to turn them off. They are now seen as ‘ambience.’

I have attempted to talk with managers and owners about this, but my protestations fall on deaf ears, always. I point out that having televisions does not bring in customers. I mention that nobody views them anyway. I argue that they are energy hogs. I tell them that they destroy the ambience of the dining experience. No matter. The trend has been set and now there is no turning back.

In researching this article, I did a google search on televisions in fine-dining restaurants and was heartened to see numerous articles written about the subject. There is a debate about it, but it needs to be much broader and reach a much bigger audience.

3.  Free Wi-Fi

Although flat-screen televisions had already mostly destroyed the ambience of many restaurants, the installation of free Wi-Fi put the final nail in the coffin. Once again, we saw  restaurant owners tripping over each other to be trendy and caving in to fickle and superficial customers who just wanted their damn Wi-Fi! Dude! Owners took the short-term view versus the long-term view. The short-term view means giving customers what they demand, now. The longer-term view, I argue, involves preserving something called the ‘restaurant experience,’ which involves far more than eating  delicious food. It encompasses the entire experience of eating out, from the moment you enter the restaurant until the moment you leave. When a customer is able to eat exceptional food in an elegant, relaxed setting and engage in stimulating conversation during the meal, the experience can be almost transcendent.

The availability of free Wi-Fi guarantees that customers will never be able to enjoy that kind of experience. A quick glance around the dining area of any restaurant today will show more than half of the customers with their heads bent down at unnatural angles, staring into the bright screens of their smart phones, their faces eerily illuminated. Conversation is entirely absent. Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends ignore each other entirely for the duration of the meal.  A person can choose not to use a smart phone while in the restaurant, but there is no way to block out the surrounding customers who exist in their zombie cyber-world.

4. Servers using iPads and smartphones to take orders

I experienced this loathsome trend last week in the Bangkok airport. The nervous young girl who waited on me didn’t want to talk at all; she was nervously focused on her hand-held device, using her thumbs to carefully enter in my order, which was, apparently, sent at the speed of light to the kitchen a few feet away. What idiotic owner really believes that supplying his waitstaff with computers is going to improve service? The device creates a totally unnecessary barrier between the server and customer. The server’s eyes and attention are now entirely focused on the gadget and away from the customers, where it should be. The ability of the server to engage in conversation, banter, and even flirtation with the customers is severely hampered.

I recall a rather humorous experience I had a few years ago in Seattle when I first observed this trend. I was eating in an Indian restaurant for lunch. My table was just a few feet from the kitchen. Indeed, I could see the chefs through an opening in the wall behind the register. The owner decided to take my order and he entered it onto his hand-held device. It was clear to me that he was immensely proud of his high-tech way of taking orders. He assured me, with a broad smile, that my order would be received ultra-fast by the chefs in the kitchen and, hence, I could receive my food that much quicker. Alas, I was not impressed. I told him, flatly, that I thought his gadgetry was unnecessary, silly, and pretentious. Furthermore, I told him that I was not in a particular hurry and if I wanted ‘fast food’, I could go to McDonald’s. This portly owner seemed to regard efficiency as the highest goal in the restaurant business.

5. Servers unfolding the customer’s napkin and placing it in his lap

This may not be a new trend. Perhaps some fine dining restaurants have always done this. I’m not sure. But if it is a new trend, I hope it will disappear as quickly as possible. I remember clearly the first time a waiter grabbled my napkin and attempted to put in my lap. I was so shocked at the action that I didn’t know quite what to do or say. All I could manage at the moment was, “What in the hell are you doing? Do  I look like a baby?”

What kind of sheer nonsense is this? Customers now need assistance unfolding their napkins? Only babies and incapacitated geriatric patients should need assistance like this. The servers don’t ask customers, either. No. They simply come to the  table and with a big smile place the napkin in customer’s  laps.

I was in a nice Italian restaurant a couple of weeks ago when the server attempted this silly maneuver. I kept repeating, ‘What are you  doing? What are you doing? What.. are… you… doing…?’ She didn’t answer and continued to unfold the napkin and reach over to place it in my lap. I finally had to forcibly grab her arm and shove her away from me. Really, if owners and managers think this pretentious little dance is necessary, then why stop there? Why not have the server sit at the table and lift the fork and spoon for the customers? It’s the logical next step.

 

 

 

 

 

Some thoughts on The Mandela Effect

The first exposure I had to the Mandela Effect was watching a video about The  Berenstein Bears. Various people were commenting that the books that they grew up reading were called The BerenSTEIN Bears, but now the books were titled The BerenSTAIN  Bears. It wasn’t just the new copies that were being printed either. Google searches revealed nothing except the A spelling, including the Wikipedia entry. I had never read these books as a kid; indeed, I had never even heard of them. So, I didn’t think too much about the issue.

However, it wasn’t long before I came across more videos being posted on YouTube about this phenomenon. Vloggers started posting videos about all sorts of things- books, movies, product names, celebrity names, the map of the world- that had suddenly and inexplicably changed. The Mandela Effect had quickly gone well beyond the Berenstein Bears. After watching a number of these videos, I did my own research, both online and on the street, to verify the veracity of the claims presented. What I quickly found was that the Mandela Effect is real, verifiable, mind-blowing, and frightening. If there is anything else happening on Earth at this moment that remotely compares to this, I’d like to know what it is.

What exactly is The Mandela Effect? It is a phenomenon whereby people notice numerous aspects of our physical reality that are different from their memory of those things. These things can be lines from a movie, a book title, the name of a shampoo, or the map of Asia. People have known something to be a certain way for their whole life, perhaps many decades, and then suddenly they wake up, look around them, and see it is different. This awareness is startling and unsettling.

There are now hundreds, perhaps thousands, of examples of the Mandela Effect that have been catalogued. Facebook groups and YouTube channels devoted exclusively to the cataloguing of effects have been established, as well as discussion groups. The following is a very brief list of some of the more obvious Mandela Effects.  New ones seem to appear almost daily now.

  1. The map of the world.

We humans are now, apparently, inhabiting a completely different planet from the one I grew up on. I say this as someone who has spent his entire life studying maps and atlases. I have a very good grasp of world geography. I know (knew) the shapes and sizes of the continents and countries and their relative placement. The maps that I now encounter when I open an atlas, a textbook, or google maps are nothing like the world as I remember it. South America has now shifted 2,000 miles to the east. Panama has become an East-West country instead of North-South country and the canal now cuts Northwest to Southeast. Cuba has doubled in size, moved a thousand miles to the west, and now practically touches the Yucatan. Florida has shrunk. Denmark now juts up between Norway and Sweden and is much, much further north than it was before. Spain has shifted westward. Italy now points  in a southeasterly direction, instead of southward. Sicily has moved northwestward about 500 km and now touches the tip of Italy.

Moving to Asia, Japan has moved westward and is now much closer to Korea and China. It is far less elongated than it used to be. Australia has moved at least 2,000 km northward to the point that it now almost touches Papua New Guinea and has become part of Asia. This is just a partial list of geographical Mandela Effects. Readers, feel free to investigate this for yourselves, especially if you had an interest in geography as a kid.

Before I move on to some other notable effects, it must be emphasized that this is not a matter of a mere handful of maps being changed, nor is it just the new maps. A search online of old maps, or even a glance into an old atlas printed 30, 40 or even 100 years ago, will show the same bizarre shifting of landmasses. In other words, it is reality itself that has shifted. I have gone into numerous libraries and bookstores since I began investigating the Mandela Effect and have verified this for myself.

2)  Lines from movies.

A) This list keeps growing all the time. Everyone over the age of 40 remembers the famous line from Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” This has changed to become “Life WAS like a box of chocolates.” Again, this is not just evil google tinkering around with online versions of the movie. Your dusty old VCR copy will now have the updated version with “Was like a box of chocolates.”

B) The famous line from the film Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” has now become, “If you build it, HE will come.”

C) In the movie Jaws, Roy Scheider now says, “YOU’RE  going to need a bigger boat,” instead of “WE’RE  going to need a bigger boat.”

D) The evil queen in Snow White now says, “MAGIC mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest one of all?” instead of the famous incantation, “MIRROR, mirror, on the wall….”

E) From the 1984 movie Purple Rain, Prince now begins the film by gazing at at the audience and announcing, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here tonight to GET THROUGH this thing called life.” WTF? The line was, of course, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here tonight to CELEBRATE this thing called life.”

3) Book titles

A) The famous Anne Rice novel Interview with A Vampire has shifted to become Interview with THE Vampire. By now, hopefully you’ve noted that the new lines in movies and new book titles don’t sound quite right and are often nonsensical.

B) The Berenstein Bears have now become The Berenstain Bears.

C) Oscar Wilde’s famous novel The Portrait of Dorian Grey has now shifted in this reality to become The Picture of Dorian Grey. 

Let me take a short digression here to relate an experience I had six months ago when I traveled to Phnom Penh for a weekend. I had been doing a lot of online research about The Mandela Effect, but I wanted more physical evidence. To that end, I ventured into the biggest and best bookstore in the city to have a look around. I walked over to the fiction section and searched for Oscar Wilde. When I pulled the copy of The ‘Picture’ of Dorian Grey off the shelf, my hand was shaking and my heart was pounding in my chest. Here was the hard evidence and it was undeniable. I mean, c’mon! The ‘picture’ ? It doesn’t even make sense! The story revolves around the portrait, hence the title.

To continue with my research, I walked a couple of blocks to a used book store. The friendly owner informed me that he had a large selection of used children’s books. I found four old copies of the BerenSTAIN Bears. The owner was unfamiliar with the books, but when an elderly woman walked in, he introduced her to me and said, “She’s the one to ask about children’s books.”

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hello, are you familiar with the Berenstein Bears books?”

Friendly woman (FW): “Well, I should be. I was a librarian for 40 years!”

Me: “Excellent! So, let me repeat the title, if I may. The books are properly called The BerenSTEIN  Bears, yes? ”

FW: “Yes, they are.”

Me: (Showing her the books that I was holding, with the alternative spelling) “Well then, what do you make of this?”

FW: “What….? Well…… I’ll be damed! (Laughing nervously)

Me: “How do you explain that?

FW: “Well, I guess I must have remembered incorrectly.”

At that point, I tried to impress upon her that it was not the fault of her memory that the title had changed. I suggested that something far more mysterious and creepy had happened and that she should investigate something called The Mandela Effect when she got home.

But here’s the rub when it comes to introducing people to this topic: It’s nearly impossible to discuss it without sounding like a loon to people who are unfamiliar with it. I’ve tried, tentatively, to broach the subject with a few of my close friends. What I try to do is find something they know well, whether it’s maps, movies, books or consumer products,and then point out anomalies. It they say, “Yeah, that doesn’t sound right,” or “Yeah, that’s not the way I remember it,” then I tell them they should do further research themselves.

4) Consumer products

There are now dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of Mandela changes with consumer products. The one that nailed it for me was  Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar. I’ve been using Bragg’s products for 30 years. I have read their books. Their names are Paul and Patricia Bragg. Their smiling faces adorn all of their products. I also used the Liquid Amino Acids. So, I’m quite familiar with who they are and their company. And then, whammo! The Mandela Effect struck. The company is now called ‘Bragg.’  Every week when I go to the Western and health food market, I see ‘Bragg’ Apple Cider Vinegar and it never fails to send a shiver down my spine.

5) The human body

According to many Mandela Effect researchers, the human body itself has undergone a transformation in this new reality. The heart has now shifted to the center of the chest and the stomach has moved a number of centimeters to the left. All anatomy charts now show this new configuration.

The preceding list was meant to only be a brief introduction to the Mandela Effect. The list of effects is long and continues to grow. The big question is WHAT IS THE MANDELA EFFECT?  There are a number of theories floating about, all purely speculative at this point.

The first theory is that a certain percentage of humans now alive have relocated, somehow,  to this new ‘Earth’ from an old Earth that was destroyed in a cataclysm. Our residual memories from the old Earth are what is causing the so-called Mandela Effect. Perhaps the old Earth was destroyed in an event in 2012.

Another theory holds that we are now in a parallel dimension, an idea that was postulated and expounded on by Nikola Tesla himself. Readers who might wish to research this further can search on ‘Nikola Tesla’s theories on parallel dimensions.’

Yet another theory postulates that we live in a literal Matrix, very similar to the reality presented in the famous sci-fi cult films. Some kind of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can, and does, manipulate reality at its whim.

John Lamb Lash speculates that the Great Mother Sophia, written about in the Gnostic Gospels, and known also as Mother Gaia, is showing her sense of humor by tweaking reality and having a little bit of fun with homo sapiens.

I am neither dismissing nor leaning toward any of these theories at this point. I surmise that in the near future, more effects will manifest, more people will take note of them, and more theories will be put forth to explain it all. However this all shakes out in the end, one thing is clear: Reality is not what we thought it was and things will never, ever be the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The decline and fall of conversation:The smartphone’s effect on our ability to meet, greet, and speak

People are quickly losing the ability to talk to one another. A residual  capacity still exists, but it is evaporating so fast that I may witness its extinction in my lifetime. The roots of this problem can be traced back as far as the invention of the telegraph more than 180 years ago but the advent of the smartphone has now vastly accelerated the decline of face to face speaking skills. Oratory, rhetoric, public speaking, and clarity of speech have likewise suffered greatly.

When I was growing up in the time before cellphones, I recall the numerous opportunities I had to meet and converse with strangers. Luckily, my parents never discouraged me from interacting with strangers unlike today’s parents who are told by well-meaning but misguided ‘authorities’ that they should inform their kids to ‘never talk to strangers.’

Indeed, the chances to meet new people, chat, make small talk, and possibly make a new friend or acquaintance  were endless. However, all of those situations where formerly we were encouraged or at least allowed to chat up a stranger are now gone, thanks to the smartphone.

7-26-2012-4-57-30-PM-300x169

If you found yourself in an elevator with someone and you were both riding up to a high floor, you may not have had a lot of time, but perhaps it was just enough to offer a “It’s going to be a hot day, that’s for sure,” to the person standing next to you. And that may have led to a reply of “Oh, you got that right. And my air conditioner broke last night and I was miserable because my room was so hot.”  And then you could commiserate with this person. The next time you ran into him you might continue the conversation by asking about the air conditioner. See? It was so simple. Now, I notice that everyone, once they have boarded the elevator, immediately takes out their phone to text to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of standing next to a stranger for a few seconds.

The introduction of televisions into airplanes guaranteed that people would no longer speak to one another on long plane rides though they were a few hold-outs who stubbornly insisted on having conversations with the person sitting next to them. Nowadays, with everyone carrying a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, even those hold-outs have disappeared. Most people don’t even wait for take-off to get plugged into their cyber-world. They cast nary a glance at the person who they will be sitting mere inches from for the next 10 hours. You, the person sitting next to this new species of cyborg, are irrelevant; actually, you don’t even exist.

Buses, too, have now installed televisions and wi-fi, and predictably people now no longer talk there either. I recall riding the Greyhound Bus on long trips up and down the West Coast and making some wonderful friends in the pre-television and pre wi-fi days.

Coffeeshops, bars, and restaurants used to be places where one could meet a stranger and start up a conversation, especially if one of you was reading a book. A glance at the front cover of a book was always an easy introduction into a chat. “That book looks interesting. I’ve heard of that author but have never read anything by her. Is it good?” Your interest in the book, and literature in general, was usually sufficient to show that you were not a creep and could hold a reasonably decent intellectual conversation. These days, nobody brings books into cafes or restaurants. It’s all about the smartphone now and no one is going  to ask you what you are looking at on your phone. Furthermore, when people read books, although they were concentrating, they were still present in the here-and-now world. Not so with the smartphone. The iphone and its ilk draw people deep into a cyberworld, an alternate reality. People lose all awareness of the real world. They don’t know who is sitting in front of, next to, or behind them, and don’t care.

12425746-Beautiful-young-girl-reading-a-book-in-Parisian-street-cafe-Stock-Photo

Because of the addictive nature of the smartphone, people, especially the young, have an extremely difficult time putting it down for even a few minutes. Hence, even if you are able to punch through their psychic wall and begin a conversation, it will inevitably peter out in a short time. The phone being held tightly in the palm of the hand begs to be used. It is insistent. If the conversation lulls for any reason, the one holding the smartphone will start texting or browsing the web and the talk is done. Finished.

Look at people today waiting at a bus stop for the bus to arrive. Look at the poor, lonely souls waiting in the queue at the supermarket or at the bank. Are they talking? No. They are checking their facebook or instagram. Look at the friends and families sitting in cars at traffic lights. Talking to each other? No- all looking at their phones. I used to work at an office where everyone would take their lunch tray back to their desk to  eat while watching youtube. Nobody was interested in sitting at a table and eating with friends and engaging in that age-old ritual called ‘conversation.’

 

 

Dissecting more techno cheerleaders in the media. Case study: the iPad in classrooms

For writers, bloggers  and so-called journalists working in the media today, playing to the prejudices of their readers is part of their job. This is especially true for journalists and columnists who write about technology. When your readership consists of people who own a smartphone (or two), a tablet, and a laptop, reminding them that they are ‘cool,’  and ‘cutting edge’ will earn you a loyal following.

Let’s examine a recent article from the same glossy magazine which we looked at in my previous article. The author is a grade 2 homeroom teacher at a well-known international school in Ho Chi Minh City. The article is only six paragraphs long. The editors could have made it longer but chose to use one third of the page to post a color photo of a seven-year-old girl with a huge smile on her face holding an Ipad. We haven’t even gotten to the first sentence and already we know what direction the article is going to take. The upper right hand corner of the page has a professional photo of the author, an attractive woman in her 20s with perfect teeth who is smiling broadly. We, the readers, have been set up nicely to drink the  kool-aid which is being served.

The title of the article is “Techie Students- How tablets have enhanced learning.” The author wastes no time establishing her thesis which she posits clearly in the first sentence, stating…”using iPads in the classroom has been ideal for promoting new ways of learning.” Hmm,’promoting new ways of learning.’ That’s a big statement. She claims that the iPad is not just a tool which can be used in addition to books, but that it helps us learn in new ways.  If she means that all the lessons can now be given on the computer with bright flashing graphics, cartoon characters, and games, than I guess that qualifies.

The following sentence reads like an advertisement from Apple: “The iPad is a perfect digital tool for our young learners because it’s small, portable, visual, and hands-on..” Hey, this woman could be a sales rep. The author goes on to say that she avoids using it as a form of entertainment but rather as a way to empower her students to channel their interests and for ‘discovery, creation and collaborative learning.’ That’s wonderful, but can’t all of those things be done just as well without iPads or computers? Can’t you ‘discover’ things in books? Do you need a computer to create something beautiful and meaningful? All you need to create is a pencil and piece of paper. Or a canvas and paintbrushes. Or an instrument.

It gets worse. The author claims that ‘the tablets are excellent for developing research skills.’ No, they aren’t. Tablets do not develop research skills. I also work with ‘young learners’ and I can tell you that their research skills are generally very deficient, in spite of the fact that they spend hours per day on computers. Punching in a search term on google does not qualify as ‘research skills.’ Here’s how most students today do ‘research’ : They enter a term on google. They quickly choose either the first or second entry that appears on the screen, rarely even scrolling to the bottom of the page and practically never going beyond page one of search results. They don’t know how to distinguish between different sources and none of them understand that wikipedia is  fallible and biased.

Checking their Facebook in lecture hall:

amn-g2

I’m only on the third paragraph but the writer’s insipid line of reasoning and her ‘rah-rah’ cheerleading for the the techno-school has left me somewhere between complete boredom and frustration. Check out this line: “Less cumbersome and more effective than dictionaries, we often use google translate or google images when coming across unknown words or concepts.” Is she kidding? A dictionary is ‘cumbersome?’ Actually, looking up words in dictionaries utilizes ancillary skills and often will lead students to other unfamiliar words as they are flipping through the pages. Punching in a word on google requires you to use far less of your brain  than looking it up in a dictionary, but this clueless teacher is so caught up in her flashing lights of her screens that she can’t see that. And Google Translate? If this teacher has really  used it, then she must know that the translations between languages are often horribly wrong. She’s teaching her students that google is God. She claims that she is ’empowering’ them, when what she is really doing is making them into little robotic consumers of digital garbage.

The author claims her grade 2 students are becoming ‘independent in their learning.’ Wow. I’ve read somewhere that Mozart was independent in his learning when he was seven years old, but that’s the only example I can think of. What does this woman think her students are going to do when teacher is not around? Do research on the causes of the French Revolution? No. They will play computer games or go into Facebook. Surely she knows that and we the readers know that, but she thinks her audience is so stupid that she can throw out this drivel and nobody will call her on it.

Who needs books?

831718-ipads

Techno teacher then tells us that she has her students make movies during class time using iMovie. The students even made a zombie movie! Yippee! After hyping iMovie, she then goes on to hype another app, this one called ‘Comic Life.’ You can guess where this is all leading.

This article is about as one-sided as you can get. It, and so many similar articles in the media, pitch the argument that ‘technology is great.’ Also, ‘technology enhances learning.’ And most of all, ‘technology empowers people.’

Since most parents today buy their young children smart phones and tablets by the time they are able to walk, the author is simply cozying up to them and telling them that they are doing the right thing. Furthermore, the school is staying at the cutting edge by ‘utilizing the latest technology in the classroom.’  Digital content and techno learning has not made us any smarter and never will. I suggest the author obtain a copy of “The Dumbest Generation” by  Mark Bauerlein and carefully read it before she writes any more articles.

 

 

Dissecting the techno cheerleaders in the media

Humanity is on an inexorable march towards transhumanism. Led by the likes of ‘futurist’ Ray Kurzweil, the transhumanist propaganda machine utilizes the media to its full potential  and employs a small army of writers, bloggers, and media personalities. A big part of this propaganda push is to continually hammer home a number of themes, such as technological progress is always positive (or at least that the benefits always outweigh the negative consequences). In close tandem with this notion is the idea that anyone who opposes the new is better paradigm is an old-fashioned, out-of-touch fuddy-duddy.

The relentlessly upbeat cheerleading that accompanies articles about technology, especially stories discussing the release of updated smartphones and related gadgets, can be seen in all mass market magazines and newspapers. There is no subtlety or nuance in most of these articles, no shades of grey.

Let’s examine a recent article in the mass media to see how this brainwashing works. The article is titled, oddly enough, “The Idiot Box,” and I found it in a glossy magazine marketed to wealthy expatriates in Southeast Asia. The author, some guy named Michael Arnold, opines that modern technological gadgets such as the Ipad are great for kids because they give them unlimited knowledge at their fingertips. Arnold tries, quite awkwardly and unconvincingly, to knit the history of  television into his argument and even manages to throw out the epithet ‘luddite’ to discredit people who question the transhumanist juggernaut.

The author begins by stating that he finds arguments against humanity’s overreliance on technology to be not ‘particularly compelling.’ He then goes on to say that arguments against the Ipad are the same arguments used against the personal computer, the world wide web and the television. The inference here is that since all those inventions have turned out so wonderfully for humanity, why worry about putting Ipads into the hands of five-year-olds?

According to Arnold, we humans have not become too reliant on machines and technology and in fact we need more!  Perhaps he missed the story last week of the guy who drove his car off a cliff because he was using his GPS instead of his eyes, a map, and common sense. Or maybe he missed the story of the three men who have died recently in Taiwan after gaming for  days in internet cafes without food, drink, or water. He hasn’t  noticed stories  of kids around the world who literally go into severe withdrawal when their digital toys are taken from them? Perhaps he hasn’t  seen, as I have, people who cannot sleep at night unless the television screen is playing in front of their bed. Did he not catch the recent story from China  which stated that the Chinese government has recognized internet addiction as one of the most serious crises facing the youth of China and has taken measures to combat it, including setting up treatment centers for hooked teenagers?

Arnold says that those of us who question the technological juggernaut have a ‘fear of change’ and since change is the defining characteristic of our age, we need to get over it. Indeed, change does define the 20th century, but this change didn’t just happen by accident. It was planned, and the results of that change have been the destruction of the family and the disintegration of society.

The next paragraph is where Mr. Arnold really outs himself. He writes that parents who ban television in the home are ‘extreme’ and that television was ‘the greatest medium of communication’ of our parents’ age. Television, according to Arnold, gave us ‘unprecedented exposure to human drama, stories with actual morals, and information about the outside world.’ What’s more, those silly cartoons taught him ‘how to have the strength to forgive.’ Now, I don’t know if  he really believes all this or if he is just reading from a template, but this is naive and absurd beyond belief. Does Mr. Arnold know who really invented television, and for what purposes? Does he know anything about Walt Disney and his shady background, including his links to Intelligence and occult societies?  Has he not read Aldous Huxley, Neil Postman, or Jerry Mander? Does he know who Edward Bernays was?

Arnold then blithely states that ‘rather less credence is given to the demonization of television nowadays.’ Oh, really? And from where did he pull that fact? Actually, the evidence demonstrating the destructive influence of television is far greater and more compelling than it was 50 years ago when intellectuals and concerned parents were complaining about it.

Now that his mask is off, Arnold cannot help himself and starts to really lay it on thick, gleefully stating that we (the television generation) are ‘eager for our kids to enjoy the kind of quality entertainment we remember having back then.’ Wow. Quality entertainment?? What is this guy talking about?

He doesn’t wish for his kids to spend their time reading the classics, or going to museums, or playing outside, or doing sports, or hiking in nature. Instead, he wants them inside watching reruns of ‘quality’ entertainment, such as Happy Days and Starsky and Hutch. 

 

No, they’re not doing math or reading biology. They’re playing games. Sorry, parents.

kids-ipad-440

I would love to send the author a copy of Mark Bauerlein’s 2009 book titled The Dumbest Generation, in which he thoroughly demolishes the argument put forward by techno enthusiasts that Ipads, computers, and smart phones make kids smarter and improve their academic performance.

Finally, Arnold relates the story of Steve Jobs not allowing his kids to play with the Ipad. To mention this story is a risky move , as it might blow a hole in his ‘tech gadgets are cool’ argument. He spins it my calling Jobs a ‘notorious hippie,’ and then, in a bizarre turn of logic, casts himself as risk taker by allowing his kids to use these devices. Come again? Let’s see if we can wrap our brains around that one. Arnold says that he is not following the example set by Jobs, and is therefore going his own way. He’s a conformist, but kind of a rebel at the same time. Get it?

In fact, this guy is doing what 99.99 percent of all parents are doing nowadays: letting their kids run loose with tech gadgets from  infancy onwards and hoping for the best. Arnold and people like him are the worst kind of spineless conformists, cloaking their naivete, ignorance  and cowardice in a thin veneer of pseudo-intellectualism.

 

Marching toward transhumanism- talking ATMs and computers

Recently the ATM which I use most frequently has started talking to me. As each new direction appears on the screen, a disembodied, robotic voice vocalizes the words simultaneously. In this  particular ATM, the voice is feminine. “Please enter your PIN,” she firmly instructs me. “Please enter the desired amount,” she continues in her creepy monotone.

The voice startled me the first time I heard it. ‘What the hell?’ I thought. ‘The freakin’ machine is talking to me!’ I’m no longer startled,  though I’m not in any way comfortable with it yet. I don’t need or want the ATM talking to me. I can read just fine. And this new innovation begs the question: should I reply? When the cool, detached voice tells me ‘thank you,’ should I answer back, “Your welcome”?

This is not as silly or far-fetched as it may seem. Clearly, the global zionist oligarchy which is steering humanity in the direction of transhumanism wishes for us to get  used to the idea of interacting  and communicating with computers and robots. Soon enough, we will be expected to take orders from robots and eventually merge with the machines.

1400050179428

 

Right around the time the local ATM started talking to me, the computers at my office started to say, ‘Welcome to your computer’ after booting up. I wonder who in the IT department thought it would be a good idea to add this little feature to all the computers? I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if in the near future, other phrases are added to that simple beginning. Perhaps I will start hearing ‘good morning,’ ‘have a nice day,’ and maybe even ‘you look well today!’

Ostensibly, the first talking ATMs were developed by banks to make it easier for blind  people to use the machines. Isn’t that so thoughtful of the ‘too big to fail’ banks? They’re always looking out for us.

 

 

The empty promises of technology

Driving home recently, I observed that  big, sleek new techno-gadget stores have been opening throughout the city almost weekly. The market for smart phones, tablets, phablets, and  laptops along with  all of their accessories is red- hot and shows no signs of slowing down. People just can’t get enough! Businessmen, housewives, teachers, students, teenagers, and parents with young  children in tow browse the stores, looking for the latest, hottest, hippest, and trendiest new device. No child is too young now to start playing on smart phones. “If they are old enough to walk and talk, they are old enough to have a smart phone,” is the new thinking among parents. Microwave radiation? Decreased attention spans? Addiction to games?  Diminished interest in books? Squashed imaginations?  Who cares!

What will be the outcome of this multi-media saturation, particularly on the young? A couple of weeks ago, I started reading “The Dumbest Generation,” by Mark Bauerlein (2008) . With meticulous research and citing  hundreds of studies, Mr. Bauerlein demolishes the arguments put forth by technocrats that  Millennials, who have abandoned reading as a leisure activity, are doing well academically and can learn everything they need to know through computers and video games. The academic and governmental studies  do not support the pollyannish claims by the technocracy that book reading is overrated as a foundation of education and that we (the adults) need not be concerned with the lack of interest shown in books  by teens and twentysomethings.

“The Dumbest Generation” is full of eye-popping statistics and charts. It resoundingly reaffirms what I have been observing for many years: that kids no longer want to read and are cut off from nature.

Bauerlein says, “The 10-year-old’s bedroom has become, as Kaiser puts it, a ‘multi-media center.’ Children leave the dinner table, which is often accompanied by network news, reruns of Seinfeld ,and other 6 P.M. fare, and head off to their rooms to turn on their own shows or crank up iTunes while poring over some homework. Bored with that, they can check a MySpace forum, or play Mortal Kombat, or look at school pictures. The long division exercises await while the computer dings a new email coming through, the cell phone buzzes with a new message, and Toomani comes on in half an hour. They never need exit their bedrooms doors, and in most households, parents won’t interrupt them. For 55 percent of the eight-to 10-year olds , parents don’t lay down any rules for TV. For older teens, only 5 percent have parents who set limits on the video games they can play. The private access continues outside the home too, with 55 percent of eight- to 18-year olds taking a handheld video game player with them, and 65 percent carrying a portable music player.”

The author goes on to analyze how school districts around the country (and around the world) have jumped on the ‘technology is more important than books’ bandwagon. Schools have borrowed money from wherever they can and siphoned money from other areas of their budgets to hard-wire the schools for the latest in technology, including computer labs, wi-fi and even laptops for the students. Administrators, principals and bureaucrats do all this in the name of education, in the naive hope that this technology will make students more ‘excited’ about learning and improve their literacy skills and test scores. The results show otherwise, but nevertheless the technocracy presses on.

In my school, we have a small library and a computer lab next to it. Which do you think students gravitate to? When class finishes and the student needs to wait 30 minutes for the parent to pick him up, does he grab a book from the library and sit down to read, or does he go to the computer lab to play video games? The answer is obvious. The books look pretty on the shelf, but they are unread and unappreciated. The school administrators allow the students to play games as long as they want, with no supervision. Nobody takes responsibility for the student who has time to kill, and the young ones especially get hypnotized for hours.

Ever since I was a young boy, I have been suspicious of machines and technology. Perhaps it’s some ancient Druidic blood running through my Norwegian/Viking veins, but my greatest pleasures growing up were always found in nature and in books. My fondest memories of childhood are the simple, direct, and intimate connections I had with the natural world- swimming in my neighbors pond, exploring the local creeks, catching frogs, climbing trees, lying on my back and counting stars, rolling on the grass, collecting wild berries in the woods, scrambling over giant boulders on the Potomac River, jumping into piles of leaves, sledding down hillsides, bodysurfing in the Atlantic on a hot summer day, making snowballs, and exploring caves. None of these activities requires a machine or gadget.

When computers started appearing in the 80s and became widespread in the 90s, I felt a palpable and growing unease. “I don’t like where all this is headed,” I said to my girlfriend at the time. When I read some of the breathless and hyperbolic rantings of the techno geeks in zines like Mondo 2000 and Wired in the mid to late 90s, I became VERY worried. These pasty-faced, pale-skinned and flabby-muscled computer geeks were telling me that the transhuman world was arriving quickly and that I had better get used to the idea. Their ideas and arguments sounded, and continue to sound, absurd to me, and yet a forceful response to the transhuman agenda was lacking. Only a few lonely voices raised objections, mostly found in obscure journals and periodicals.

I began to wonder if I was the only one feeling this unease, but fortunately I eventually found writers and intellectuals such as Kirkpatrick Sale (Rebels against the future) , Daniel Quinn (Ishmael) , Jerry Mander (In the Absence of the Sacred),  John Zerzan (Running on Emptiness) , Derrick Jensen ( A Language older than words) , Neil Postman (Technopoly) , and of course Thoreau. These writers are often described with many different terms, including but not limited to ‘anti-technology’ , ‘neo-luddite’, and ‘neo-primitve.’ But despite their differences, they all share a common distrust in the current pro-technology paradigm and the covert  trans-human agenda.

 

 

The smartphone is not a tool, it’s a drug

When it comes to smart phones, the question must be asked: who is the master and who is the slave?  Do you control your smart phone, or is it the other way around?

Although most owners of smart phones will laugh good-naturedly when queried about this and admit, “Yeah, I’m addicted to my iphone,” they are unwilling to look at the extent and ramifications of their addiction full in the face.

Most of my teenage students no longer bother to talk to one another before class, during breaks or after class. They file into the classroom one by one, take a seat as distant from the other students as possible, and then take out their gadgets and sullenly scroll thru the screen, thumbs working hard. Often, I will a half-dozen or more students in the room, and you can hear a pin drop, it is so silent. Nothing happening but eyes glued to screens.

images

Less than 20 years ago when the first crude cell phones began appearing, there was at least some, but not much, discussion about when it was appropriate to interrupt a conversation to take a call. That brief discussion has ended and it is now taken for granted that it is permissible to answer the phone or a text message at any time, anywhere, for any reason.  It is acceptable to interrupt a deep and intense conversation between a mother/daughter, father/son, boss/employee, boyfriend/girlfriend, best friends, grandfather/grandson, husband/wife, and other relationship one can think of simply to answer a call. Sure, you can still ask, politely, for the person you are conversing with to put away their phone for the duration of the conversation, but be prepared for strange  and sometimes downright hostile looks from them.

Most of the phone carriers where I live in Southeast Asia do not provide voice messaging. There is nowhere for someone to leave a message if you do not answer the phone. But really, who needs such a service nowadays?  The phone is with you all the time, and when it rings you answer it. Period. If someone calls and you don’t pick up, they assume you have mysteriously disappeared or perhaps died. They don’t even follow up the missed call with a text message. The notion that someone might  purposely decline to answer a call is inconceivable to people now, especially the under-35 generation.

 

resized_creepy-willy-wonka-meme-generator-i-see-youre-on-your-iphone-tell-me-more-about-your-addiction-42f402

It’s humorous to observe people when the phone is in their pocket or handbag and a call comes in. They  immediately spring into action, almost like they are in a fight-or-flight response. They appear to think that if the phone buzzes more than once or twice, it is an insult to the person who is calling.  There is nothing casual at all about the way they reach for their smartphone. Their master – the phone-  is calling, and they reach for it with the utmost sense of urgency.

The common scene now at restaurants, bars , and cafes is for hipsters and pseudo hipsters to have a whole arsenal of digital gadgets spread out on the table before them.  I recently sat across from a young twenty-something girl at a cafe who was so desperate to appear cool that she took no chances. She had not one, but two smartphones in front of her, plus a tablet. She hid her face behind oversized sunglasses and earphones. She chain smoked marlboro cigarettes and drank aspartame-laced Diet Coke. She had a notebook with some scribbles open on the table, but never once touched it. The Lost Generation on full display.

 

 

Transhumanism, wearable tech, and the Neo-Luddites

Walking through an airport last week, I caught a glimpse of the new issue of Time magazine. The eye-catching cover shows the bottom half of a man’s forearm and a clenched fist. Superimposed on the bare forearm is a multi-colored computer interface illuminating various graphs and charts showing pulse rate, calories consumed, time, temperature and other data. The title and subtitle of the article  reads: “Never offline- The Apple Watch is just the start. How wearable tech will change your life- like it or not.”

The editors and headline writers at Time have always had a penchant for headlines that subtly talk down to their readers, with phrases like ‘Here’s what you need to know’ and ‘why everything you thought you knew about (insert issue) is wrong’ and so on. This particular title is not even subtle about its message: transhumanism is here and resistance is futile. 

Wired magazine, the bible of tech zombies:

images

The article itself discusses the launching last week of Apple’s newest trendy gadget, its wearable watch. I expected the author of the piece to be a gung-ho techie who was going to be breathlessly touting the wonders of the watch. So,  I was surprised that the author, to his credit, took a rather neutral,  even nervous,  tone regarding where this kind of gadget is taking us. The author claimed that ‘this is technology attempting to colonize our bodies.’

Overall, the article appears to neither wholly support nor condemn the watch; the writer simply accepts that this is the direction we are heading in and we will have to adapt.

6194bc577812edd7b9fb9ec8fc52d691-2

Apple’s introduction of its watch and the media campaign, with the likes of Time magazine, surrounding it, is yet another salvo in the transhumanism offensive to move us to ‘post-humanity’ , a term which the article’s author even mentions.

No doubt the young tech zombies will rush out to buy  whatever new product Apple introduces and the rest of the herd will soon follow. (The Iphone 6 was selling on the black market for 3x the retail price in China.) Will there be any resistance to the transhumanist agenda?  A year ago a small fracas erupted in a neighborhood in San Francisco as a number of bar patrons violently objected to a girl who was walking around the bar wearing google glass. The story  got airplay in the Bay Area press but wasn’t picked up by many other media outlets. At the time, I wondered whether a Neo-Luddite movement might be possible to finally give some push-back to the tech onslaught. (The Luddites were a group of English textile artisans who protested, sometimes violently, against the introduction of machines during the 19th century.)

Luddite

The chances of such a movement developing are slim to none, but I did read that article with great interest and a sense of hope. The ‘powers that be’ (TPTB) are in a rush to decimate most of humanity and microchip the survivors. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, which after all are mostly owned by the same stockholders and work together,  are at the forefront of the agenda to modify us into something that is more machine than human. The iphone laid the groundwork and the watch is the next step. The implanted phone/computer has surely already been developed in a lab somewhere and will be foisted upon the public in another year or two. We can expect that the launching of the implanted computer will be accompanied by the same brand of media coverage as we have seen for the iphone and watch. That is, the writing will range for joyous acceptance to limp resignation.

Televisions and Wifi

A new restaurant opened last month in my neighborhood. I like what they have done  with the interior, especially the enormous wooden table which they placed in the center of the main room to use for shared dining. It has a nice, functional wraparound bar with recessed lighting and a selection of wines by the glass. The new manager was there last week when I stopped by and we chatted for a while. I thanked him for doing something different on Bui Vien Street and not filling the restaurant with televisions showing sports. However, a week later when I returned two enormous televisions were hanging from the ceiling. Disappointed,  I asked the manager, “How could you?” He lamely replied that ‘customers asked for it.’ I didn’t believe him, but nowadays all restaurant owners feel pressured to install televisions lest they lose customers to the loud bar next door. It’s all about catering to the herd  masses.

And god help you if you are a restaurant owner who hasn’t installed free wifi. Be prepared to be crucified on Yelp, tripadvisor, and other review sites. Recently I read a review of a restaurant on Yelp and a young man gave an otherwise good review to the restaurant in question, but was apoplectic that they didn’t offer Wifi. “How do they expect me to enjoy my meal if I can’t check my Facebook??? Waaaaaaahhhhhhh!”

To the few remaining restaurant owners out there who have not caved in and still offer a television- and wifi- free dining experience, GOD BLESS YOU. You are a dying breed.


 

 

Rise of the techno zombies, part 2

For most of the first decade of the 21st century, I lived in a small town on the coast of northern California. The nearest big city, San Francisco, is a five hour drive away. The area is home to the largest trees in the world, the famed  Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens). Locals like to say that they live behind ‘the Redwood curtain,’ meaning that they often feel like the rest of the world has forgotten about them.

Being small, remote, and well off the beaten path, we were always at least a few years behind urban trends, especially technological and social trends. I didn’t purchase my first cell phone until late 2006, seven or eight years after most urbanites had bought their first one. Being on the tech cutting edge wasn’t important for me or for most of my friends.

To assess the impact that new technologies like smart phones, laptops, and tablets were having on society, I relied on reading news accounts and blogs. It wasn’t until I moved to Portland, Oregon in late 2008 and then Seattle in 2009 that I witnessed firsthand the influence that the tech revolution was having on society and culture itself.

The adjustment back to city living after ten years of small town life was difficult enough, but coming to grips with the our new tech crazy world was, and is, really difficult. Here are a few anecdotes relating to my experiences.

There was a wonderful little cafe a few short blocks from my apartment in Portland. They had plenty of comfortable seating, served good coffee, and played music that was not too antithetical to my tastes. But after a couple of visits, I stopped going there. It had a lifeless feel. Some days it would be full of customers , with 20 to 25 mostly young people sitting and drinking coffee. Problem was, everyone was sitting alone at their table and nobody was talking. Furthermore, no one was reading books, magazines or newspapers. Everyone was either on their laptop or smartphone. It didn’t just feel weird, it felt somewhat creepy.

When I moved to Seattle, the scene at every cafe and coffeehouse I visited was exactly the same as described above. No talking, no reading- just texting, web browsing and updating social media. Oh yes, everyone also was drinking from disposable cups, even though they sat at the tables for hours. Starbucks had taught them well.

Technology has a way of inexorably worming itself into every facet of our lives and into every physical space as well, even those spaces which were hitherto considered off-limits to phones, computers, and such. Those physical spaces include the commons, i.e. parks, museums, sidewalks, and bus stops,  private enterprises like bars, clubs, cafes, and retail stores,  and of course,  our homes.

During the two years I lived in Seattle, the city’s largest, most famous and well-established bookstore moved from its location near the waterfront to a different neighborhood which happened to be much closer to my apartment. I was quite excited about this and looked forward to the opening. The new store, not surprisingly, lacked the character and ambience of the old one. The original store had a confusing layout, almost chaotic in a way, which encouraged browsing and serendipity.

kids

The new location had a second floor which contained some of my favorite sections and which also offered a small amount of respite from the noise of the first floor, with it cafe, music and check-out. There was a nice wooden table which the store owners had thoughtfully placed near the stacks. This table, I naively supposed, was where we could sit for a few minutes with a book pulled from the shelves. One afternoon, I saw, to my dismay, that the table was filled with a half dozen students and hipsters who had set up their laptops on the table and were busily working, chatting, and giggling. So much for book browsing. Even though there was a spacious cafe at the bottom of the stairs, with comfortable seats, good food, and free wifi which was built specifically to cater to these customers, they wanted to take the one space in the store that I thought was reserved for book readers. I complained to management, but to no avail.

I had finally come to terms with the fact that coffeehouses were essentially lost, that they had metamorphosed into something unimaginable to me even ten or fifteen years ago. They now resemble something more akin to what are known as  co-working spaces. They have become just a venue for people to plug in their wifi enabled devices. The cup of coffee that is purchased is simply the price of admission  for the table, electrical outlet, and air conditioning. Well, what about bars? At the end of the day, people leave their computers at home and go sit in the dark bar to have a drink and share their troubles with a friend, right?

digital_addiction_by_intellectualdeviant-d4vsm7q

It just so happened that I lived next to one of Seattle’s better dive bars, a small and dark place, but one with a bit of style and which served some of Seattle’s best craft cocktails. With no televisions, great drinks, moody lighting and a decent bar, it was perfect for me. But then management decided, on their own or under pressure from customers, to install wifi. Soon enough, the techies started coming in and setting up at the tables with their laptops. Given the small, intimate space and the low lighting, a few people turing on their fifteen- or seventeen- inch screens had the effect of completely transforming the bar’s atmosphere. One night I was sitting at the bar when a 20-something girl sat next to me and promptly threw down her macbook on the bar and turned it on. We sat only inches apart, so I was forced to bathe in the bright glare of her screen. It was like someone had brought in their television. I protested vehemently to the bartender. He was sympathetic, but ultimately did nothing. Once they installed wifi, and advertised it, the game was up.

I often went to have dinner at a wonderful restaurant in my neighborhood. I almost always sat at the bar to eat and occasionally another solo diner would sit next to me. I recall one evening when a gentleman who looked to be around 60 pulled up a chair beside me.  We immediately began conversing and found out we had some things in common. He was interesting and a good conversationalist, but just when the discussion got rolling, he pulled out his smartphone and said, “excuse me.” He then began playing with the phone and surfing the web. His unapologetic and swift cutoff of our talk seemed harsh, unnecessary and perplexing.  He might as well have said, “I’m done with you now. Fuck off.” Indeed, it was a number of experiences like this that convinced me that I was better off not even attempting to start a conversation with other solo diners.

p05-140615-342

At my job, I had the opportunity to see the effect of smartphones on  people whom I interacted with on a daily basis. One young woman was a new nurse who had recently graduated. Unlike most of her peers, she was a book lover and I had even bumped into her a couple of times at the used book store. Whenever I came upon her in the dining hall, she glanced and smiled at me over the cover of the book she was reading. And then one day she bought a iphone. From that day on, I never again saw her reading a book. Whereas before she always noticed me immediately when I walked into the dining hall, now her attention was so focused on the phone that she wasn’t aware of anything happening around her.

After my boss bought her first iphone,  it never left her hand. The first day she brought it to work, , she walked around the facility, visiting every department, ostensibly to share pictures of her recent trip to a southern state for a conference, but in truth to show off her new toy. She insisted on showing me dozens of boring photos on the phone. She knew they were boring  but she couldn’t resist sharing her wonderful new gadget.

As bad as this situation is in America, in Asia it’s even worse. A few days ago, a local paper ran a piece from Agence France Press about internet addiction in Singapore. Psychiatrists in Singapore want the government there to join other countries in recognizing internet addiction as a mental disorder. According to the article, 87% of the population of Singapore own a smartphone. When you discount the under-5 and over 75- age groups, that basically means that everyone in Singapore owns a smartphone.

People are reporting ‘text neck’ or ‘iNeck’ pain according to an anesthesiologist at Singapore General Hospital. Many people have their heads lowered all day while using their phones, even while crossing the street and queuing. A number of Asian countries have set up treatment centers for young addicts. The article goes on to state that China may have as many as 24 million young internet addicts and already has set up 300 internet addiction centers, which , given the figures above, is way too few. Welcome to our ‘Brave New World.’