I am not entirely comfortable in large gatherings even though I occasionally attend them. In fact, I don’t think you will ever spot me marching in any kind of mass assemblies, peaceful or not.
Don’t get me wrong when I say this. I can sit comfortably in church, or an occasional sporting event and behave myself, it’s just that I would rather walk down a lonely trail in the woods, far away from any other human being or musical delivery device. In fact, I have walked for hours not hearing another human voice and was perfectly at peace and content. Did you know that when you spend hours alone, you become very quiet? My doggies sleep when my bride is away, because the house becomes silent, except for my constant pecking of the keyboard.
My dad once said he “enjoyed his own company” and I learned to understand this peculiar sounding confession. He would go off in his 18-foot boat and spend the day catching redfish and speckled trout and come back and clean them at his house in Aransas Pass. He didn’t even listen to the radio. I don’t think he was uncomfortable around other people; he just loved the freedom to make all his own choices and he got it in that boat out on the water.
As technology shrinks our privacy and let me say up front that I embrace much of it, the need to get away from it all amplifies exponentially. Angie Middleton explained to me that a friend owns a car that spoke to her while driving. It told her to “keep your eyes on the road”. It’s scary on one hand and much needed by some on the other. I do believe we are going to see a massive shift in technology very soon that will be overwhelming to most of us, me included.
The famed British theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking recently threw up the same red flag as the Unibomber Ted Kaczynski, in that "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
"Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded" is another quote by him. This, of course caught my eye, as I follow the (AI) artificial intelligence movement and have read a number of books by a leader in AI, Ray Kurzweil. The real kicker here is this is happening right now. We will see this in our lifetime and that once again brings us back to the original intent of this column: personal space.
Our personal space or comfort zone is shrinking, right along with our ability to control what little we still have. Baytown is a good example of how little personal space we have. Get in your car and drive onto any of our roads. The only space you control is around you inside the car and that’s about it. Everywhere you look are trucks and cars with lots and lots of people. Inside almost any store you have to move out of someone’s way. You stand in line. You wait, due to the movement of people. You are crowded and if you are like me, impatient.
Maybe that’s why I like to hike the trails or launch my kayak on one of our waterways. Maybe I feel claustrophobic in the crowds or maybe I just don’t like to conform. I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care; all I know is I don’t like the crowds. Now, according to Angie, Ted, Ray, and Stephen, I won’t even be able to get away from technology, especially inside my own danged car.
I guess I could attempt to go off the grid, but I like my air conditioning and Food Town’s close proximity; besides gardening is danged hard work and rabbits are a poor substitute for prepared boudain, chicken fried steak, and gumbo. I’m afraid I, we, us… are caught in an inescapable vortex of people and technology and like lumbering lemmings scurrying toward our own destruction; we’ll ultimately gallop to our own demise.
Of course we will not go empty-handed. I wouldn’t suggest that. In one hand we’ll have the latest 5G Smartphone or tablet and in the other a sack of rapidly prepared convenience food. We won’t actually run either. We’ll be driven to the cliff’s edge in our environmentally correct ‘smart” car or faux-SUV. We won’t have to worry about criminals because all of us will be armed. Drunk or distracted driving will be eliminated because our cars will go wherever we tell them, or just take us to the nearest de-tox center by law. They’ll monitor our sugar levels and automatically send the results to our doctor. A drone will deliver our meds when our house signals we are home and our universal insurance will deduct the credits from our account.
If by chance you can find a place to hike off the grid, an amber alert will automatically go out and a platoon of camera heavy quadcopters will home in on the last place you were known to be. When you are located, your account will be billed for not securing a permit from Homeland Security to go off-grid. It will be “for the good of the people” that everyone is accounted for and by golly, for safeties sake, we will agree to it.
Doom and gloom you say? Nope, just acceptable social acclimation and the snuffing out of personal space – for the good of the people.