Thursday, September 16, 2010
I sit in the airport terminal watching the citizens of Zombie Nation quietly ignore one another as they text, surf, tweet or simply stare into space. Husbands ignore wives. Wives ignore kids. Kids ignore everything but what scrolls across the screens on whatever handheld devices they've demanded and received from their self-absorbed acquiescing parents.
Oh, I'm sure they all have lives, I guess. If that's what you want to call it. They probably think they're happy, content, satisfied. Entertained. Occupied. Thumbs become blurs over tiny keyboards. Eyes squint at tiny little messages written in the fragmentary patois of our time. Thumbs blur once again and tiny little responses are sent out into the endless gulf stream of digitally-truncated banality that's ever flowing right over our heads.
I feel superior, of course. I don't know anything about them, so it's easy to make snap judgements. Do I? Oh, hell yes.
Take that booth-tanned guy sitting across from me with the gravity-defying hair who reeks of ASS body spray. I'm sure he's quite happy, quite content to be defined by how he looks, regardless of how much I think he looks like a smug, spoiled dick in his Tapout shirt. And he might be the nicest, most interesting guy in the world for all I know. He may volunteer at a local soup kitchen, read Nabokov because he really digs it and have a kennel full of gundogs. But I doubt it.
And the catatonic kid off to my left studiously ignoring his parents, lost in the depths of his own infinite playlist, his iPod-induced stupor is in turn studiously ignored by both parents who, hunched over their own devices, haven't spoken to the kid, or even acknowledged his existence - or each others' - in the twenty minutes I've been sitting here. They might be the model nuclear family at home, discussing the day's events earnestly and interestingly over a pot roast. But I doubt it.
And the severe, pneumatic blonde in the black miniskirt and power heels tapping importantly on a netbook perched just-so on long, gym-toned legs while talking into her bluetooth headset to some equally urgent-acting business partner in some other airport terminal. Yeah, she's flying business class and yeah, she looks like she wouldn't hesitate to claw her way over a pile of screaming infants to board the plane first, but maybe beneath that weatherproof plasticized exterior she's really a sweetheart who likes baking cookies in her pajamas, collecting Strawberry Shortcake dolls and sending big chunks of her obviously-considerable disposable income to paraplegic Bulgarian orphans. But I doubt it.
And the tired-looking dads, the disaffected looking wives, the bimbo-looking girlfriends, the bored-looking boyfriends, the spoiled, petulant kids, the ironic hipsters, the crazy-haired spinsters, the emo-looking weird dudes with Romulan haircuts, the tweeners, the teeners, the guidos, the tools, the real fake housewives of wherever; it's like the extras from every lowest-common-denominator reality show on television are swirling around me in a sea of dull, pointless synthetic existence. Behind those slack jaws and vapid eyes they all might be interesting, self-actualized individuals. But I doubt it.
And as I look around I wonder if any of these people, these organic automatons, have ever known or ever will know a single moment - just one brief shining moment out of the entirety of their dull, manufactured reality - of pure, crystalline rightness; some beautiful, momentary astringent that washes away the waxy build-up on whatever remains of their souls and forces them to feel alive. Not entertained. But alive.
Maybe. But I doubt it.
Posted by Chad Love at 4:46 PM