Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Life and Death in Dystopia

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A friend remarked on the dystopic nature of our lives as they are affected by the ubiquity and inescapability of computers, whose presence has expanded to fill every cubic centimeter of existence. And how, brother!

Sometimes I wonder if the digitization of day-to-day life creates stresses and psychological disjuncts may be responsible for the madness we see around us — specifically, for the ever-increasing number of shootings by crazies. Life was frustrating back in the day…and scary, too — remember those air-raid drills? Everyone had at least one gun in the house — or at any rate, that was true of the blue-collar class in which I grew up.

But no one went out and shot up public spaces.

The mindset has changed, and I think that has happened because of the deluge of passive stimulation, of violent games and TV and movies and music and “entertainment” and hostile speech accessible 24/7, and because of the constant background demand that you respond to negative stimulation through social media, gaming, and incoming images and narratives. We’re blitzed with constant aural and psychological noise, much of it hostile and violent.

And there’s no viable escape from it. Remember when a little kid could sit outside and watch the clouds float by? Imagine a kid doing that today…right!

I mean…when I was a kid, I hated school. I deeply loathed my classmates, the obnoxious little twits who made my life miserable for years on end. I hated my fifth- & sixth-grade teacher (same bitch….she “passed” into the 6th grade along with us, to my horror!). But forgodsake, it never entered my fevered little brain to kill them. Though I would have been pleased if they’d all been dispatched to the other world, making that a DIY project was not even remotely imaginable.

Now we have the lovely situation in which we find ourselves. Today it not only is imaginable, it’s becoming commonplace. And a nutty, disaffected kid like me can find instruction and encouragement on a machine that brings the world to her bedroom.

Result: an ordinary neighborhood church has an armed security team(!!!) who must leap into action to save the lives of what could have been scores of parishioners. Look at this video of the latest outrage (if you don’t mind having your hair stand on end): the guy had some kind of long gun. You can’t see it clearly in this video, but it looks like it’s probably a semi-automatic.

The most striking thing here is that these guys were prepared. The one who shot the sh!thead was a former FBI agent. It wasn’t that a few parishioners happened to pack heat into church: the church had an organized, armed security team

WTF!! We’re in an era where churches and synagogues need armed security guards. Sorta like schools do. And movie theaters. And nightclubs.

Y’know, I can’t even count how many times I’ve sat in that choir loft and thought how easy it would be for a crazy to get a gun into the sanctuary below us. At this time of year, when it’s cold, everyone is wearing jackets…making it easy to hide a pistol.  There are four entrances to that place, not counting the two stairwells that lead to the organ loft. Anyone could carry in a pistol, take a seat, and bide his time. When he was good and ready, he’d have a large roomful of sitting ducks. If he could get into the choir loft (to which there are two entrances), he could shoot at people from above, though choir members would probably interfere with him. Or he could shoot us all in a matter of seconds.

What a world we live in!

Author: funny

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2 Comments

  1. Since peaking in the early ’90s the violent crime rate in the US has steadily fallen to about half of what it was at the peak (to approximately what it was in the late ’60s and early ’70s). This decline would correspond to the period when consumer use of computers and the internet would be growing. While the overall homicide rate has dropped considerably, we have seen a rise in the number of mass shootings within the US. To lay the cause of these shootings on access to computers/internet seems at best a stretch. Many nations have computers/internet/guns but do not have the mass shooting problem experienced within the US.

    • Yes, you certainly could be right about that. It may not be the stress and influences of digitizing our lives that have led to outbursts of homicidal madness. Yet you have to allow that what we think of as “entertainment” can be extremely violent. I stopped going to movies decades ago, when disturbing levels of violence became so common that almost every film has at least one episode that turns your stomach.

      There certainly is SOME social issue — or combination of social issues — that has led to an atmosphere in which enraged individuals go amok in homicidal frenzies. Possibly it’s that we’ve abandoned the practice of hospitalizing people who are thought to be a danger to themselves and those around them. Or that we seem to have abandoned mental health care in general.

      If crime rates have dropped, you couldn’t prove it by me. When I was a 12-year-old in San Francisco, we used to play outside for hours, ranging around for miles. I rode public buses and streetcars on my own, every day. My friends and I fished off the bridge at Lake Merced, which we reached on foot. We snuck in the back of the Olympic Club and frolicked around the forested grounds. In Southern California, which was hardly a garden spot, I walked to and from school along busy, dangerous main drags. Not one incident ever occurred. We lived in apartments — some of them in less than halcyon buildings — and nothing untoward ever happened.

      Today, no responsible parent would allow a kid to do those things. Children are watched every moment — for good reason. No one ever heard of a demented sex maniac, high on drugs, attempting to harm a child.

      But… Nowadays, here in Phoenix newspapers are no longer delivered by “newspaper boys” — the Republic started hiring a company for the job after a 13-year-old was nabbed from our neighborhood paper route. They found his body several years later in the desert. Since my marriage in 1967, I have enjoyed two home invasions, an attempted rape, two attempted attacks by men who were off their gourd, an attempted carjacking by two guys who were fleeing the police, miscellaneous petty thefts of tools and other items from my yard and garage, two alarming episodes in grocery-store parking lots. The police chased a perp to ground in my ex-husband’s backyard, beating the hell out of the guy as DX and his wife watched through the windows. A guy jumped the back fence of a neighbor’s home and was messing with her three-year-old when the four-year-old came inside to tell her a nice man was showing them the family jewels. Another guy, watching a home here in the ‘hood, saw adults leaving and attempted to break into the home even though he could see the kids in the front bedroom (or maybe because he could see them?). My German shepherd chased a mentally ill man all the way back to the guy’s house when he attempted to enter my yard while I was entertaining a friend. A father was sentenced to prison because he killed a transient who entered a women’s room at the nearby Circle K and attempted to molest the father’s teenaged girl — Dad no doubt would have escaped prison if he hadn’t been black. A man was shot and killed by a passerby in a car outside the neighborhood Albertson’s as he stood at the corner waiting for the light to change. One of the neighbors was shot by a purse-snatcher outside a sewing store in the corner strip mall. In front of the local Target, another neighbor had a to fight off a drugged-out mentally ill woman who attempted to steal her baby out of the infant’s car seat. Our kids go to schools that look like penitentiaries because they are locked down and fortified just like prisons. When I was a kid, the police weren’t even allowed to come on the campus; now every school has parking spaces reserved for them.

      NOTHING EVEN VAGUELY LIKE these things happened in the 1950s and 60s, when my family and I lived in big cities — San Francisco, Long Beach (which is hardly a little bit of heaven). This stuff picked up speed as computers spread into every home, school, and workplace. Possibly this is a coincidence…but I’ll bet not.

      So what is the difference? You could argue that the main differences are a) widespread use of drugs and b) lack of adequate mental health care. But…we had a drug back in the Dark Ages: it was called alcohol. San Francisco in particular was overrun by alcoholic transients. And as for mental health care: no one knew then, any more than they know now, how to treat severe mental illness effectively and humanely, In those days the treatment was to lock up victims in mental hospitals. Today our mental hospitals have been replaced by prisons.

      So what’s different? IMHO we see two key differences:

      a) Along about the 1970s, it became acceptable to depict extreme violence and hostility in movies, TV shows, games, and popular music.

      b) The presence of a computer in every home — and now in every pocket — has made it possible to spread violent imagery and hate-filled language (which once was unacceptable even in less-than-polite society). You can pickle your brain in hate and violence and no one bats an eye.

      I’m sorry to sound like a creature from the 19th century, but that has GOT to have an effect. The effect it has on people with normal mental health cannot be good, but the effect it has on those suffering mental illness, bullying in schools, or various other stresses rises to the level of dangerous.

      Another demographic measure that’s dropping is birth rates. And with good reason: who in their right mind would bring a child into a world where both parents have to work 8 to 10 hours a day, the schools look like jails, and you can’t let your kids play outside without an adult hanging over their shoulder every moment?

      Something’s wrong. Whether it’s ubiquitous computers or changes in moral standards or neglect of mental health (the narcotics problem is part of that) or socioeconomic changes that have forced women willy-nilly into the workplace or an attack of brain waves from orbiting space aliens, it ain’t right.

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