Wednesday’s Mike Church Show, broadcast on Sirius XM radio, will feature a segment with Stephen Tippins, the author of TAC‘s new cover story, “Anti-Social Network.”
Tippins’s story, which appears in the August issue, takes the reader on a journey through the brave new world of social networking. One night at a bar with friends, he suddenly sees how life online has radically reshaped our social encounters:
Kenny reaches into his front jeans pocket and retrieves his smart phone. Within minutes he has accessed his Facebook account and the table is passing his phone around from one person to another, like kindergartners at show and tell, each taking turns looking at the Facebook page of one Henrik Bjornson, which lives up to all its shallow hype.
I start to roll my eyes, but a thought begins to form, distracting me from tactfully informing my friends that they are idiots:
Henrik is being digitally portrayed before me on a hand-held electronic device. This device, if one desired, could house the equivalent of a library’s worth of information. Looking at his Facebook page, I see his picture, his name, his birthplace, his likes, his dislikes, his peculiarities; I can even observe pictures and comments of his friends, which reveal his tastes in women, his wealth, his social caste. If I wanted to, I could follow his brainless thoughts on Twitter, too. In other words, via this little hand-held gadget, I have the ability to fully debrief myself on the enemy alien race known as the Delicians. And so it occurs to me:
I’m living in a Gene Rodenberry teleplay. Minus the space exploration.
It all makes sense, really. Rodenberry, after all, long ago envisioned iPads, iPhones, and ring tones. That said, he didn’t envision tweeting or tagging. Nor could he have imagined the efficiency with which yesterday’s most outlandish science fiction could become today’s science fact. Sometimes, for instance, it took the Starship Enterprise’s computer a great deal of time to give a reading on a planet’s condition or an enemy’s constitution. I, however, can retrieve Henrik’s vitals instantly.
But it’s Gene Rodenberry’s world, I realize. I’m just living in it.
Looking outside, I see a man walking down the street, holding his car keys out. He is starting his car remotely. Science fiction indeed.
Turning my attention back inside the restaurant, I notice the flat-screen, high-definition television attached to the far wall; it resembles the main screen on the Enterprise’s bridge. A reporter is commenting live from Soldier Field on the week’s upcoming playoff game. The mesmerizing picture makes me feel like I am there, in the snow and wind and Chicago chill. Who needs holodecks?
Most Rodenberry-esque, though, are these women. Oohing and aahing over Henrik, they are about as alien as the Borg and about as soulless. Of course, they are blissfully ignorant of this fact, but that is beside the point—or maybe it reinforces the point… The feminist movement was consummated at least two generations ago, but the aggression continues. Eventually, the post-feminist woman, believing that she epitomizes equality and choice, will assimilate all men into her collective, until we all resemble either the metrosexual Henrik or the spineless runts that these women dominate at home.
The modern man is a perfectly emasculated descendant of his ancestors. In fairness, men are to blame for the defeat—men like Henrik, for example, who think “poking” is some kind of foreplay. Maybe we really are the weaker species; maybe we deserve to be eradicated.