Incidentally, most corporate meetings are utter BS excuses for people who don’t have much to do to sit around and talk about work and make lots of useless small talk that I can never relate to, which is why I resent meetings with a furious passion. They are like mandatory socials. I resent having meetings on my calendar. I resent being forced to leave my desk in order to sit with a bunch of people who enjoy flapping their gums about crap that could have been addressed more efficiently through cogent, clear writing in the form of email or memo. Problem is, no one reads or writes as an extension of lucid communication now, so they call meetings to articulate their thoughts. Most of the managerial class (and beyond) in the modern American corporation lack the ability to express themselves clearly in written form. Understandably they also lack the comprehension and patience to read. The class of people you would expect to be most adept at written communication is as stupid and useless as the typical clerical flunky who pushes carts around when it comes to writing and reading. We are left with a corporate culture of aimless meetings that devolve into watercooler gatherings around a large table and behind closed doors. It’s a racket.
During a recent meeting I was lassoed into attending, a large portion of the meeting ricocheted into a stream of “off-topic” fluff talk about electronic gadgets. Specifically, tablet computing, cell-phones, etc. The focus was on the modern newfangled toys that enable people be “part of the grid” regardless of how far they are from home. Consumer electronics are now designed around the portable utility of joining the amorphous hive of the global cybersphere. Folks prize the ability to be in contact every minute, every second, of their day. What fools. I’m old enough to remember the days when you did not have contact with anybody save for the pay phones and a few cents in your pocket, if you had them. Even then, it was your elective decision to reach out. No one could reach you if you didn’t want to be reached, or the expectation wasn’t there. You can still turn your cell-phone off but your precious contacts are aggravated if you don’t answer or call back posthaste. Back in the old days, people still led busy, involved lives but they didn’t experience the agitation to be tethered to data streams and broad bands of digital signals. They didn’t need to signal their arrival at every little stupid event or location, because frankly, no one cared. No one cares still, but people still go through the motions of being nice and artificially “liking” some stupid status garbage simply because it seems to be today’s new civility. Act fake. No one is real anymore. No one can defocus from their hand and let their eyes rest peacefully on the blank horizon.
During the watercooler portion of my meeting, I slowly disconnected and drifted away while keeping an engaged and empty smile on my face but not contributing or listening much because I have absolutely nothing to contribute when it comes to cell phones, tablets, round-the-clock connectivity, Blackberries, iPhones. I don’t give a flying crap about that stuff. I’m old school, bitch. I don’t need to take the world with me wherever I go. I have no desire to walk out the door and have all the fools trailin’ my ass, watching what I eat or spend my money on. Once I walk out the front door, I am gone, baby. It’s my little snippet of private life that no one can know and I also don’t give a crap what you do on your own time, either. The minute I come home and power up my computer and land-based modem, then I once again belong to the internet. This is on my terms. My terms alone. The worst thing about modern civilization is that people no longer want their own terms. They are frightened children, adrift without a social map. They are dictated like puppets by the societal demands of their friends and acquaintances. People have lost the ability to be self-contained, solitary creatures because they feel empty and lost without the constant presence of other bothersome life forms. The only thing 4G connectivity contributes to is loss of self and loss of autonomy. I refuse to play that game (not that anyone notices or cares). I refuse to buy 4G, I refuse to buy a fancy cellphone, I refuse to Tweet or Facebook when I walk into every stupid restaurant or special event. That is my portion of life, thank you. Don’t people feel claustrophobic when each second of their life is tangled up in the grid, sold to the lowest bidder? I sure do.
I value my autonomy, doesn’t anyone else? I guess not, judging by the fact no one is ever alone any more, from childhood on. Now children grow up surrounded and watched continuously. Twenty-first Century man does not know solitude. When I was young, very young, I used to walk to school alone. Those were my richest childhood memories, my merriment. I’d walk in alleys and empty neighborhoods, enjoying my “alone time” to think and ruminate and observe the world. I would form my own thoughts, conclusions, dispel or justify private notions. This was my own wonderful, private world that no one could intrude on. I’ve never forgotten it, and will never leave it. Kids were able to do this then because of course, as we all know, child predators and child killers did not exist before the 1980s. Children are now hounded by helicopter moms and overprotective social services from sunrise to sundown. They are not accustomed to moments of solitude. And now they have Mama4G to embrace them when they feel needy.