by Fara Greenbaum 12/1/2019
I hate touchscreen technology. Hate is a strong word, yet not strong enough to truly express how I feel. Hate may be a strong word, but it’s a short word. Loathe. Loathe has more letters but still only one syllable. Abhor. Abhor has 2 syllables and abhorrence has 3 but it sounds like an embarrassing gastrointestinal affliction. Okay, I’ve got it. I really have a bee in my bonnet about touchscreens. Who decided it was a good idea we all have to live our lives appeasing finicky little screens that only like to be touched in certain ways with a certain type of pressure from certain angles? Imagine if you had a lover like that…you’d kick them to the curb! You wouldn’t swipe them ever so gently to the curb. But lo and behold everyone’s slavishly going around caressing their darling little screens. Who do I have to fuck to get a mouse and a keyboard around here? I actually have a blackberry (they still make those? you’re asking and probably googling) with actual keys that I love dearly, and If I’d wanted to spend $200 more (and really I should have) I would've gotten one with a teeny tiny little mouse so I’d never have to touch the damn screen for the rest of my life! No EMF’s for me! I’ll be the last cancer free person left on earth! just banging away at my keys to my heart's content! Although I suppose if there’s no one left to text that would be kind of lonely.
For future generations, survival of the fittest will favor those with the skinniest fingertips. Forget about bulging biceps or heaving bosoms, skinny fingertips will be the most highly sought after physical attribute. Fingertip reduction will be plastic surgeries next big boom. Cultures that still practice arranged marriages will prize skinny fingered prospects. The skinny finger craze will definitely result in a brand new genre of fetish porn. (Skinny fingertip porn may already exist, I did not conduct a Google search to find out).
Touchscreen technology is not the only bee buzzing around in my bonnet. This hive of annoyance also includes how technology has turned people into socially awkward dorks. Last time I was in NYC a friend invited me to a night club out on the Hudson river that was an Ibiza import to hear some DJ friend of hers that was apparently all the rage. The place was fairly cavernous and there were probably 300 people there, 298 of whom were standing stock still on the dance floor holding their phones up to film the DJ. The other 2 club goers, myself and an African American gay gentleman who was definitely born before 1980, were dancing our asses off. It’s extremely eerie to be dancing amidst a sea of non-moving non-talking phone holding robots. I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea that someone would prefer to spend their Saturday night out with friends filming a guy who’s also standing pretty much stock still while pushing buttons on a computer, a film they will most likely never watch and neither will anyone else for more than 5 seconds. What happened to dancing? Conversation? Laughter? Flirtation? Spontaneity? All gone apparently, drowned in a sea of stationary dorks.
If I could only liberate myself from this persistent buzzing by untying my bee filled bonnet…I’d fling it at people who constantly take pictures of themselves. I was on a water taxi from Miami Beach to Key Biscayne, sitting up front and looking forward to the sea spray when a group of about 8 male tourists from a foreign land embarked. They spent the entire trip standing in the bow, blocking the view while they took a million pictures of themselves and each other. I don’t think a million is an exaggeration. I wished I could speak their language so I could yell at them over the engine ‘You already got the picture!’ or ‘Just sit down and be in the moment’ or ‘Nobody’s going to fuck you because you’re on a boat!’ With that last outburst I was imagining they were taking all those photos for Facebook or Instagram, with the hopes that some fair maiden back home would see them on a boat, be overcome with desire and tackle them as soon as they deplaned. To me this scenario seems highly unlikely, but then I don’t know the people they know.
The moral of the story is…look up from your phones. Feel the breeze, see the stars, smile at a stranger, savor the moment! You can dick around with your phone when you’re dead.
by Fara Greenbaum 2/10/2020
If I had a time machine, I’d use it to go back in time and prevent certain sounds from ever having been invented. Number one on my sound hit list is the eeee…..eeee….eeee…. alert a truck makes when backing up, which is also the sound of a construction elevator going up and down the outside of a building, so I’d be killing 2 sounds with one trip. Leaf blowers and car alarms would be next. As to the methodology I would employ in order to prevent the invention of offending sounds, I certainly wouldn’t want to cause anyone physical harm. I would either A). prevent the thought of an offensive sound from having been formed in the mind of the inventor or B). prevent the formed thought from manifesting in physical reality. Perhaps I could pull the plug on funding for offensive sound research and development. So many possibilities! I don’t have the time machine yet and am still working out all the kinks.
That eeee….eeee….eeee…. sound is one of the primary reasons I had to leave NYC. I could hear it 24/7 inside my apartment and it was incredibly unsettling. One holiday weekend I couldn’t take it anymore and actually checked in to a hotel one block from my apartment where I knew it would be quieter. The front desk guy looked at the address on my ID and was like ‘really?’. The fact that I lived a mere block away compounded with the fact that this particular hotel was mostly frequented by gay men must’ve struck the front desk clerk as an impenetrable mystery, or at the very least a boring mystery, or, maybe he never gave it another thought. I prefer to imagine he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night, plagued with how none of it made any sense. I myself have been at the mercy of several unsolvable mysteries, one being the conversation I overheard at a newsstand in NYC many years ago where a lady was saying to the man behind the counter “my second favorite metal is titanium”. I have so many unanswered questions in regard to this statement A). What was her first favorite metal? B). Who the heck has a favorite metal? C). How did they get on this topic of conversation? D). Does she just go around town regaling people with tales of her favorite metals? E). Was the man behind the counter an active participant in this conversation or just being polite? F). As a non-native English speaker did he understand what the heck she was talking about?
It’s fairly quiet where I live now, at least at night thank goodness. During the day there’s some annoying lady who lives downstairs and is always yelling at her dogs. Like a really intensely angry crazy lady yelling. I’ve never actually seen her, but I’ve definitely heard her, and have been cursing the day she was born. This lady really needs to stop yelling at these dogs, at least within earshot of me. She needs to either A). Not have dogs. B). Have dogs but not yell at them. C). Take her dogs a few blocks away from the building to yell at them. D). Go to therapy to deal with her anger issues. E). Take Ayahuasca to deal with them faster. F). Fuck off and die.
Perhaps I can combine all my noise reducing efforts. Once the time machine is up and running I could send the crazy yelling lady and her dogs back in time to visit potential inventors of offensive sounds as a kind of aversion therapy. After about 10 minutes of listening to her they will have done a complete 180 and turned to inventing ever more sophisticated types of noise cancelling technology. I will leave the yelling lady and her dogs in the past as a constant reminder that silence is golden. Once I’ve effectively rid the world of all offensive sounds I will take my time machine on a quick trip back to that newsstand to hear about the lady’s first favorite metal. Ah yes! Peace and quiet and peace of mind. Can’t wait.