A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
I love the 21st century. I love it that I can talk to people all over the world. I love that my Japanese car was built in France — from Polish parts. I love Google and Wikipedia. I love the one-click universe. I love it that, when I order a pizza, it gets to my house faster than the police would. Well, maybe not that so much … but … I do think it’s cool that the person at the other end of the telephone is thousands of kilometres away, but he instantly knows my name and remembers I want extra garlic. The point is I love all the bells and whistles this century has to offer … but … there is one serious drawback. You can’t get regular stuff anymore. Ordinary is just not available. Here are a few examples:
Telephones — I have no idea what half the stuff on my telephone does. I touch the wrong icon, and suddenly I’ve got a live-stream street scene from a village in Bhutan. If they made an ordinary telephone that just made telephone calls, every old person on this planet would buy one.
Water — Last time I checked, there were at least a dozen different brands of water for sale. People! It’s water! The only choice you’re actually making is the shape of the plastic bottle.
Ice Cream — What ever happened to Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry? Do we really need Mungo Jerry Berry? Wasabi? Bacon? This isn’t ice cream, folks! It’s some kind of mutant milk product, foisted on an unsuspecting public who think they’re getting something other than a lethal dose of chemical flavouring.
Coffee — It’s impossible to do that many different things to a beverage.
Toothpaste — Every brand from Aquafresh to Sensodyne has a least 8 different versions, four different flavours and any number of different purposes. You can have cavity control, tartar control, bad breath control or holy-hell-that-hurts control. In the age of bone graft implants, you would think dentistry could come up with a single brush-your-teeth-after-every-meal toothpaste.
Cars — The only purpose of the automobile is to go where you want it to go, stop where you want it to stop and go backwards if you went too far. That’s it. Cut out all the other crap — like power windows, heated seats, 3 surveillance cameras, 9 cup holders and a video uplink to the Mars Rover — and you could make an ordinary car that ordinary people could afford. Plus, you could probably power it with your brother-in-law’s electric lawnmower motor.