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Monday, January 2, 2012

3 You Oughta Know By Nows

Traditionally, the turning of the calendar page to a new year inspires forward-looking resolutions which embody the optimism that always surrounds this celestial recurrence.  I, of course, am not immune to these seductions, and have renewed almost all of the resolutions from 2011, which each failed miserably in its own right.  It is in the spirit of this failure which I look over the landscape of the past to see just how far we haven’t come.  In an era where stupidity is celebrated in its own right and we enjoy the benefit of innumerable technical advances which make that all the more surprising, it is not what we understand that merits note, but rather, what we don’t.  We are over a decade into the new millennium, and we appear to have all but wasted it.  Almost every day, I see people handling decade-old developments with all the dexterity of a drunken chimpanzee and only half of the impulse control.  It makes me wonder if the Information Age has inspired a point we never thought we’d get to, a place where our brains are actually full, and if we want to put anything new into them, we’ll have to call in one of those doctors from Hoarders to help us clean out the mental Beanie Baby collections and diaper stacks to make room for it.  And so, in the interests of helping a few folks into this brand new year by teaching them something they should have learned ten years ago, here are 3 things you ought to have figured out by now:

1. Does That Go Any Louder?  In 2012, Smart Phones have become nearly ubiquitous, as marked by the fact that I can be video called by both my father and my niece & nephew - who are, at last count, nearly sixty years apart in age.  So now, when someone says “It seems like everyone has one of these phones”, they don’t sound like as much of an asshole (well, ok, maybe a little bit).  But, more importantly, it marks the time where the generation of technology behind it (the standard cell phone) has become what the home phone was to it - something in literally every household.  As a general rule, anything that you can buy in a 7-Eleven can be considered available to everyone, regardless of your station in life.  And with the omnipresence of cell phones has come the omnipresence of cell phone ringers.  Of course, early in the life of this technology, the projected public cacophony of a ringer in everyone’s pocket led to the development of a silent ringer (the “vibrate” function) which appears to have been the most widely ignored bit of genius since Arrested Development.  I regularly hear someone’s obnoxious ringer go off in an otherwise quiet setting, and not only long enough to remind them to silence it, but repeatedly as though they suspect they’re the only one that can hear it.  If you can’t figure out how to silence your phone, you don’t deserve your opposable thumbs, let alone that device.  If your phone rings audibly more than once without you answering it public, everyone within earshot should be permitted to slap you with a rake.  

2. Easy as 1,2,3.  Long before I was a regular flier, I still took a flight every now and then.  And back then (when flying dollars were tight), I was always searching for discounted fares - and so, I flew Southwest long before I had to be wooed with my bag flying free or online self-booking.  And while Southwest has always had open seating, their current seating procedure has now been around for over four years (which is longer than the current President, and two thirds of the acts on the Billboard Top 100).  This carefully tested process was dubbed “foolproof” by the consultants which implemented it, proving only that they have no idea what kind of fools are flying these days.  For the uninitiated, this unimaginably complex process includes the assignment of an alpha-numeric code to each passenger with the letters A,B & C, and the numbers 1 through 60.  Impossibly enough, the passengers are then queued by letter (boarding group) and number (place in line) and invited to board the plane and select their seat in order.    They truly couldn’t make this any easier if they had written the instructions in crayon - and yet, I see grown men and women look at these letters and numbers as though they are alien glyphs that they can’t possibly decipher.  Seriously, if this confuses you, please stay home - because if we crash on a desert island with no food, we’re eating the dumb people first, and that means you.

3.   It’s Electric.  If you’ve been to a wedding, bar mitzvah, corporate holiday party, country bar or decently-sized birthday celebration in the last thirty years, you have probably heard this song and seen this dance.  It’s the Electric Slide, and is commonly done to the Electric Boogie by Marcia Griffiths.  In fact, the Electric Slide was first choreographed in 1976!  That’s right, this dance is older than you are.  Hell, it’s almost older than I am, and that’s saying something.  And just like your public schooling, it’s only got 18 steps (well, maybe a few more for some of you - but the same step twice doesn’t really count as two, ok?).  But to my point, you probably take more steps than that getting from your bed to your shower, and they’re probably more complicated.  However, despite this dance being older than your creepy uncle, and easier than your drunk aunt, I still see people messing it up like it’s some kind of complex tribal rite.  Notwithstanding what passes for dancing these days (don’t even get me started on that), if you can’t manage the same 18 steps over and over, you really should stay as far from the dance floor as possible.  Seriously, nothing that was cool in 1976 should be even remotely challenging for the modern-day socialite.  And yet, I’ve seen this particular dance butchered more routinely than Journey songs at karaoke.  No matter what your friends have told you, if you can’t do the Electric Slide, you can’t dance - and the place where you need to be if you’re out, is the bar (where you can show off the Electric Lean).

* * *

It’s not that I’m not hopeful for a better world in 2012, because I am.  It feels like we’re waking up from a horrible national (maybe even global) hangover, after spending most of the previous decade partying like nothing could ever go wrong.  And like any hangover, no matter how bad it seems, you ultimately come out of it a little smarter and just as spry as you were before.  I guess I’m just hoping that we all take the opportunity whilst looking forward to take a brief look back and make sure that before we go trying to build our hopes and dreams, that we’ve got a foundation that includes the ability to operate basic consumer electronics, keep from looking foolish in a basic airport queue, and maybe, just maybe, dance a little bit.  After all, what good is being successful if you don’t got the boogie?


Larry said...

First of all, Happy New Year Glenn!
Dude, you friggen' kill me. Seriously, you should help me write the 2 sit-coms I've been sitting on for some time.
Hope all is well in LV. Just found out an old friend of mine lives there. Would love to get out there sometime.
Be well and keep up the awesome writing!

Jen and Tonic said...

I'm so happy 3 Things is back!

I must say that the electric slide portion has me laughing out loud. I can't even tell you how many times I've seen people screw this up at weddings, bars, bar mitzvahs.I think having to turn at the end of each "set" really throws people off. As if facing East now suddenly makes what you did facing North significantly harder.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget your 7 year old nephew can video chat as well. He would be hurt if you left him out. Gotta love technology.

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