Thursday, May 25, 2006

I'm Only Sleeping

I think somebody switched worlds while I was sleeping.

Weren’t people gong out of their way to be kinder to each other not very long ago? Or maybe it wasn’t kindness — maybe it was when somebody said what we all needed was to go out and buy something. I’m pretty sure it all had something to do Sept. 11 — you know, the day that we’re told changed everything.

My mind’s not what it used to be, God wot, but I think that some things did change. For instance, I seem to recall that back in 2000, if you asked someone in a cineplex not to talk on the cell phone during Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you’d probably get a sheepish nod and compliance.

Make that request today and you’re lucky to be ignored.

No need to belabor the hyper-aggressive driving — second graders who spit out “You suck!” and “Eat me!” like spent bubblegum — the as-soon-as-I-get-mine-maybe-I’ll-think-about-you ethos — the strange lack of eye contact that makes your average-sized crowd look like the zombie casting call for Dawn of the Dead IV: Latex Allergies.

After all, it’s pretty small potatoes in a world where lifetime savings and pension funds are treated like so many nickels and dimes in your pockets, Don Skilling, Don Lay.

Funny. If I were some self-styled terrorist who wanted to disrupt a country’s functionality at the most fundamental (get it? Fundamental?) level, I’d try to create conditions where people deliberately isolated themselves from the possibility of pain, of tough questions and hard choices, of empathy with people outside their Verizon Circle of Friends. I’d encourage that country’s citizens to put themselves at the center of the universe. I’d denigrate the old and open temples to the Next Big Thing. Most of all, I’d work to keep them from connecting with each other on a meaningful level — because then they might discover commonalities and start — you know — getting all kum-by-yah with each other, maybe even start re-defining their friends and enemies.

Like I said, somebody pulled a switch — but then, it was my right to sleep!

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