You’ve heard it all before: Smartphones are bad. Technology is bad. We’ve lost the ability to think. And so on.
Though I’m no Luddite, much of this is true to a degree. And it was on my mind during an interesting conversation with a really smart guy I had at a recent cookout.
This gent is a little older than me, but similar in background, education and temperament, though he’s not a lawyer. But he’s into history, and he sees trends, so we talked about things like helicopter parenting and the time-sucking black hole of our endless entertainment options.
It helps that, like me, the guy is both a historian by training and a reader of classical literature and 20th and 21st century fiction. “It’s Brave New World meets 1984,” he said at one point; a cliched observation, yes, but cliched because it’s true.
“More Brave New World, I’d say,” I responded. “Everything is a different form of soma.”
Soma, for those of you who’ve never read the book, is an undefined, mass-distributed “pleasure drug” that’s kind of a cross between an opiate and a hallucinogen. It keeps the population happy and docile.
What we’re drowning in now, rather than pills, is digital soma.
Eventually, from smartphones and omnipresent media, the topic of our conversation soon turned towards video games.
I know I’m stepping into it here, but I’m fine with any blowback. What’s the point of debate if we can’t be honest about where we stand? Continue reading “Digital Soma”