Monday, April 2, 2012

Their Master's Voice

One of the issues with having been on the early shift for the past four years is that, come hell or high water, I wake up at 04:00 and have to take some time drifting back to sleep.  On most days, this is not an issue, but for some reason, when it happens on Sundays, I get a little peevish at the occurrence.

I am staring at the back cover of this week's Time magazine.  I read the rag because it is good to see what the mainstream media are reporting to further the goals of their corporate masters.  This week is odd because I really am equally offended by the cover on the front cover of the magazine and the advertisement on the back cover.  This magazine has obviously fallen a long way from its halcyon days as a significant and thoughtful reporter of the world's events.

Let us begin with the back page and my personal choice for the most insidious and crippling device every foisted on our entirely-too-willing-to-be-led-about-by-the-nose society.  The iPhone.  All the advertisement is is a picture of a shiny new iPhone in a hand, with the caption "I could use a latte".  The iPhone is obediently reporting the results, gathered from the too-obvious tracking of the individual by GPS, and a rudimentary voice recognition software program. 

I used to be repulsed by people walking down the streets, talking into a cell phone to the insular little grouping that they cling to, ignoring the wider world around then, missing the cues of life that are part and parcel of interacting with the full society around you.  People who cling to their cell phone are the new definition of clique, rejecting interaction with the messy and real general populace and clinging desperately to a chosen group who reflect their beliefs back to them in a most satisfying manner.  When you ignore the world in your immediate vicinity and cling to group of chosen friends, you can do without the messy and difficult concept of people having differing views and goals. 

Now Apple has taken it even further.  You don't even have to interact with your friends now, you can rely on your phone and Apple to provide for your needs as soon as they appear.  The Solarians would be so proud.

The society proposed by the back page however, is dependent on time selling the idea on the front page.  The front page reads "The Truth About Oil", and claims increases of oil supplies by "new technologies".  While warning that prices at the pump aren't going lower. 

The increases in supply that are claimed are laughable.  Time claims we import 45% of our oil, NPR claims that we will go down to 36% by 2035.  Canadian tar sands will feed our gulf coast refineries and we will keep our SUV's.  It is nothing but hope.

I guess that time This week shows what is really happening, we are blithely heading down the path to consumer heaven, fueled by oil that will continue to flow because of us working smarter.

What could possibly go wrong?


Demetrius said...

The picture is very interesting. Would you call it a "busted flush"?

Joel Caris said...

It seems that everyone's on a real kick of late with the idea that we're barreling down the path toward oil independence. After all, look at that beautiful little uptick the last year or two from North Dakota! Why, if you magnify in enough, it's almost like we've tripled our oil production.

And then the tar sands, of course. Were they actually arguing the tar sands were what would bring us to independence? They do realize that Canada is a different country, right? Granted, it might arguably be friendlier to our interests than certain other oil producing countries, but it wouldn't quite be independence. And it's not going to produce that much oil, anyway. And it's a disaster waiting to happen if we do go ahead and allow the pipeline--which seems inevitable, given our general unwillingness to face the reality of our energy situation.

Anyway, the iPhone. Never have had one, never will, but I don't say that with any sense of superiority. I still have a regular old cell phone, and I have pulled it out randomly in company, which is a shameful act as far as I'm concerned. I also discovered today that my iPod--which had been gathering dust for months after it stopped working--is working again. So I've been listening to music all day, and oh how glorious a crutch it is for my mind. I was making butter and seasoning my cast iron pans while listening to the music, though, so there is that.

I remember seeing an iPhone ad recently. The TV was muted, but the ad was easy to follow. Basically, some kid had his phone and was using the ever-helpful Siri to complete a variety of tasks in regards to his band. He seemed to enjoy some success with the band and at the end apparently put in the request for Siri to start referring to him as Rock God, which she obediently did.

Apple is selling narcissism, just as you note. You don't even have to say it as an inflammatory claim--the damn ads are explicit about it. Every once in awhile, I just sit in a public place and watch people use their cell phones (and, again, have done this many times myself.) It's frightening. Maybe I'm already turning into a bit of a grumpy old man, but it doesn't seem to bode well for us as a society, far as I'm concerned.