The Rise of the Pod People

Once again, classic science fiction from the linear past has predicted predicaments of our current present, but the depravity and dehumanization were too terrible for previous generations to wrap their minds around the horrors of our everyday life so the legitimate fears raised were lampooned as nonsense.  The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers debuted over half a century ago, and its prophetic vision of people becoming mindless shells used by an alien entity has permeated our lives in the most insidious manner.

In the typical campy style of 1950s sci-fi, a doctor discovers that his neighbors and co-workers are all getting replaced with duplicates, that appear human in form, but act like emotionless drones with some veiled sinister agenda.  The good doctor eventually stumbles upon the pre-human shape of the copies of the townspeople, giant pea pods that morph into a human shape and take over the lives of the real humans when they fall asleep.

In real life, it is not over-sized vegetables trying to mold humanity into mindless puppets (Unless reptiles are vegetables; they are both mostly green after all; then you can count the lizard overlords, but that’s just politics, bitch).  Instead, there is a sleek-looking assortment of smart phones and iPods that have attached themselves to a growing portion of the population via earbuds and bluetooth headsets.  This small addition to members of the human race may seem like nothing to get worked up over, but it is in fact the visual cue signaling the beginning of the end of humanity as we know it.

It is the start of a symbiotic relationship with technology, that is currently evolving at an alarming rate – both the technology itself and our dependence on it, which could result in the human element of the equation becoming obsolete.  In the past ten years, communication and entertainment technology has infused itself in our lives in such a manner that it seems we, as a population at large, cannot go a day without using it as a crutch to participate (or avoid participation) in basic tasks and interactions.

When walking down the street it is now commonplace for a large percentage of the people you see to be in their own auditory world, trying to bypass and squeeze out this mundane reality by pumping up the jams of their choice.  This type of antisocial behavior used to be reserved for sullen teenagers, using their Walkmen and personal CD players to make a statement about how they were an individual and could listen to what they wanted when and where they wanted.  Now it seems that everyone is jumping on the indie bandwagon.  I’ve seen kids no older than six already bored with the world in front of them, listening to Jay Z or Lady Gaga or Lou Bega on their iPods encased in a Sesame Street protective sheath.  I’ve also seen forty and fifty year old business men doing the same thing (Usually sans the Sesame Street case, but sometimes you never know what you’ll see in the subway).  How has our entire population become so jaded and disinterested in the fact that we are alive? Life used to be something that left people staggering and oohing and ahhing over the shear audacity and brilliance of it.

Welcome to the instant information age.

The prevalence of the internet and mobile devices that connect with it have left us underwhelmed by life as a whole.  We know that something more fantastic and funny and fulfilling exists only a click or thumb-tap away, so we do not have to give our here and now and sort of lasting attention.  People can go off into their own little bubble and not have to coexist with the people and environment around them. Something about casting aside our physical world for an imaginary virtual one leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s like we’re all going crazy, with our minds fracturing beyond reason and spiraling off into our own individual tangent realities.  Too bad it’s not as much fun as the insanity of Soderberg’s Schizopolis or as toe-tappingly catchy as 20th Century Man by the Kinks.

I guess few things in life are, and all I can do is beg you, dear readers, to unplug from your wireless nets, and breath in the fresh air of original thought.

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