This is going to be a 3 ring circus of a blog entry...because I have a lot to touch on.
First of all...I've been listening to The Beatles a lot lately. This past week marked the release of The Beatles Rock Band video game, as well as the entire catalog of The Beatles' music remastered and re-released. If you haven't listened to these lads, you should...though I consider it highly implausible that anyone in my audience has NOT heard a legendary group like The Beatles. If I were to recommend only one album to a new listener, I would suggest The White Album. This is one of those that I've been listening to quite a bit recently, and the diverse styles of music on this album are amazing. Practically every genre of music is represented, from blues (Yer Blues) to reggae (Ob La Di, Ob La Da), from hard rock (Helter Skelter) to soft ballads (Blackbird, While My Guitar Gently Weeps). It's a masterful album by a band that really did push the boundaries of their time with completely new sounds.
Secondly, I have a confession to make. After all that railing against technology and media overload, I caved in this weekend and bought an iPod Touch. It's completely hypocritical of me, I know, but my only somewhat insufficient answer is that I'm using it simply as a tool to make everyday living just a bit easier and more organized. And isn't that how we justify all technology? We say it isn't a necessary part of our lives, that we could certainly operate independently from it if we needed to, but sometimes I wonder if we really could. It seems we're reaching some kind of threshold where, if we're not careful, we may forget how to do some of the necessary things of life without the aid of such "tools".
I had a thought, upon returning from the Apple Store Saturday evening, waiting to make a left turn. Cars swept by me, with individuals of every gender, race, and color imaginable. Some spoke into a phone, regardless of safety, while others talked to the friend or family member seated next to them. Each person had a destination, and that sealed car transported them along with passengers to a specific place, at a specific time. I began to think...each of these cars holds within it a lifetime, a life full of memories, joys, sorrows, hobbies, passions, ideas. These cars pass by, and there are whole worlds of individuals that we will never see again. They simply pass...and each person, young, old, black, white, Spanish, Indian, German, will zip on by without any notice. And then this occurred to me...what if some of the most brilliant people you could ever meet were in those cars? What if every single person, in every single car, was simply the most beautifully gifted and talented individual you could imagine...
And then I realized that this, of course, is true...if only we could break out of that routine of simply moving through life, getting out of that hermetically sealed car and exploring, meeting, sharing ideas and discussing philosophy, literature, history, the arts...telling a society so rushed by hyper-communication and technology to just stop for a minute. To slow down, take it easy...and realize that life is far too short to stare at a computer screen all day (again, irony here because I am staring at a computer screen). Why does communication necessarily have to be mediated by a phone or computer? Have our lives become so busy that we can't sit across from a friend, or foe for that matter, and talk about life and ideas for a few hours? Imagine what would happen if we could actually talk to one another...and not only talk, but listen, and listen respectfully. Good conversation is always founded upon the art of listening and building upon what another has said. It certainly doesn't come from broad generalizations and stereotyping.
Well...that's what I think anyway.