I have a recurring dream of no faces.
Light comes in squares. Little squares and big squares. Flashing white and blue and green and rainbow.
What I think are voices aren’t voices at all. It’s tapping. Dense tapping on glass. Hollow tapping on plastic.
No eyes to meet or laughter to hear. Just 1 and 0, 0 and 1.
I pinch my arm and force myself to accept that this is not a recurring dream. I am living in the reality of the 21st century.
There are no faces here. Only files, gigabytes, and messages delivered in Arial and Times New Roman. Will the newest generation ever be able to say something like, “I recognize that handwriting”? How could they, when there is no handwriting to be had? Not for us. Not for us with more computer technology in our pockets and purses than Apollo 11.
In our collective reality that is the First World in the 21st century, we don’t see each other. Names and faces are replaced with email addresses, usernames, and text fonts.
We don’t laugh, we lol.
We don’t offer an opinion, we btw.
We don’t question injustice, we wtf.
Life comes to us in screens. Computer screens, phone screens, music screens, game screens, automated teller screens, self check-out screens. You’re reading this blog through a screen, and without which, I wouldn’t be able to bitch to such a large audience.
Somewhere between The Pony Express and .mp3 players, we lost touch with humanity. We stopped seeing each other. We stopped seeing faces. We stopped seeing each other as human beings who have shared experiences in hope, fear, disappointment, doubt, joy and anticipation. We are lost in a world of screens that has removed us from the cohesive nature of humanity, which was once looking someone in the eye and having a real conversation.
We’re at a point where the genie can’t be put back inside its iBottle. Technology has been integrated into everyday life to the point of physical and emotional dependence. Two years ago I moved to the West coast without a GPS or smartphone. Friends questioned how I would get there. How I would find a place to live. How I would find a grocery store. Imagine their shock when I replied, “I’ll use a map and talk to people.”
That’s how deep we are down the technology rabbit hole. I accept that technology is here to stay, but what of humanity?
My answer is: As long as there are flash mobs, all is not lost.
Dancing and/or singing flash mobs are my lighthouse on the coast of Human Existence. In a matter of minutes, a group of individuals emerge from a crowd to perform a predetermined routine to an unsuspecting audience. Be it at an airport or food court, these flash mobs urge us to put our screens and worries away for a few minutes to look at the faces. We are in this world for only a blink, and if you stare at your screen for too long, you’ll miss it.
Yet I find myself at the intersection of Ironic and Paradox, for, without those screens in the unsuspecting audience, and the screen from which I type, I would have never witnessed the very flash mob that restored my faith in humanity that was already lost in the very screen needed to experience it.
Below are two of my favorite flash mobs. Look at faces and use your screens wisely.