Coming back to the USA has been traumatic in many ways, but perhaps the biggest trauma has been in recognizing that most Americans have been zombified and then, once their minds have been erased, they have migrated to one of the three great zombie herds which roam the highways and biways of this once great land.
Herd #1: These are the ones that my new friend Get Back Jack described as being so fucked up on meth they just circle around the Best Western in Kelso, WA – or somewhere else. No explanation needed. Tweaker herd. Crankster herd. Meth herd. Ice herd. No coming back and so fucked up they won’t care when they die herd.
Herd #2: The Narcisistic Selfie herd. At one point in my life when technology still seemed cool and new and benign – I was enthusiastic to be a member of this herd. Then I left the country for five years. Like not looking in a mirror for half a decade, I returned to see people eating dinner while looking at their phones, riding the bus with phones, driving and texting having become a big crime, and somehow thinking that nude pics on their cellphones are secure. This was the culture of burners and techies and Boingboing podcasters and cool maker techno awesome which somehow devolved into selfie culture. People who are so cuaght up in what others are thinking of them that they have no room to actually think about who they are or should want to be. No self awareness only awareness of how others see their self. No self development – like a car with a perfect paintjob but an engine that is falling apart.
Herd #3: The pissed off patriot herd ready to blame all the problems on someone else. If it’s not the Mexicans, it’s the Arabs, if not the Arabs, it’s the Californians, or the Mushroom pickers, or the Democrats or the Republicans or the Libertarians, or the people down the street. I feel for the people in this herd – I agree with them sometimes which I guess puts me in the herd sometimes, but the problem is they never look at the rest of the world – they only listen to the American view of things.
Then there are the rest of us – the retirees, the screwed, the spit on, the over regulated, the under served, the tired, the poor, the restless souls, the hungry, the few who perhaps could do it better if not for the over regulation, and the community minded.
Fuck it, I’m not innocent. I don’t have the answers. I do see the problems pretty clearly though. It all comes down to two issues – 1) Too much technology and 2) Too much government – unfortunately, those are two of the most powerful forces to ever exist – Government automagically encroaches on the freedom of it’s citizens to protect itself – Technology is the same and worse because it forces all to use it or be left behind. There are no more payphones in my town – if you don’t have a cellphone, you can’t make a call. Government is savvy and uses technology to control and inform on its citizenry. Technology is savvy and uses it’s power to control government, citizens, and to gather information.
I may have the freedom to write this but I can only have that freedom if I pay for a laptop, a connection, electricity, a place to sit, and do that by earning money, spending money, and using technology. Freedom is gone. I could tell you a million freedoms I don’t have
– to disappear
– to live in the woods (without a permit)
– to stop paying bills or taxes
– to be free
All of it is clear in America, but only if you have taken some time to not look in the mirror.