Be afraid, be very afraid, of your iPad
I have rediscovered the Eden of my youth: The library. I can’t afford my ridiculously expensive Kindle habit, among a lot of other things, as my job grinds to a halt in 60 days. (The expense of my Kindle-downloading habit got to the point where I think being a coke-addict would’ve been cheaper.) And that’s good – austerity has made me creative and far more grateful for what truly matters in this life. Put a roof over my head and feed me and give me a way to take care of my pets, and I need little else…
…well, except for books. I cannot live without books. I not only want books, but I truly need them.
So I have decided in order to afford this need/want, I will never pay for a book again, if I can help it.
Last Friday, I went to the Rochambeau branch of the Providence Community Library system and got a library membership. I was as giddy as a little girl whose daddy just bought her a pony. The minute I walked through the door, the smell hit me: the smell of books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Hey mother ship, thanks for calling me home.
That musty, dusty, papery smell took me back to my childhood, where I would spend hours in the public library, carefully choosing my little jewels, the hardcovers and paperbacks that I would take home and read for hours on end, escaping the battleground that existed outside my bedroom door.
So how many books can I check out at a time? I asked the librarian at the circulation desk.
You can check out 99 books at time, she said.
Really?!? I replied with a gleam in my eye, raising my voice well above the library whisper threshold.
She looked scared. She should be. Because there will be a time when I will damn well check out 99 books at once, even if I have to attach a UHaul to the back of my car to cart them home.
This time, though, I checked out four books and two DVDs. Is it scary that it’s now Tuesday, and I’ve finished reading three of the books? And that I’m headed back to the library after I finish this post for more of the same? No wonder I don’t have a job lined up or a boyfriend…
But I digress.
One of the books I checked out – and devoured – last week was Robopocalypse. Although this is pegged as a science fiction book (I’m not a fan of the genre), I would say it’s a horror story instead. It’s a narrative of the near extinction of humankind following a robot uprising and subsequent war. I won’t tell you who wins, but I will tell you to read this book if you want to enjoy an almost guilt-free good yarn. And do it while your laptop, smartphone, tablet, even car, are TURNED OFF and your lights are TURNED ON. Read it in book form, not on your e-reader. Please, heed my warning.
I’m not a “superuser” of modern technology. I do have a laptop, and I obviously love WordPress. I have an iPhone, which I mostly use to play Plants and Zombies and to find my way when I get lost. But the buck stops there. Whether it’s been technology or dating or figuring my shit out, I’ve always felt like I’m a late bloomer, definitely not an early adopter. If Facebook imploded by ripping off its own face and if Twitter tweeted itself to death, I wouldn’t give a damn and my life would go on. If my 90-year-old TV crapped out, oh well. I doubt I’d buy a new one, since I use it so little. I don’t have a tablet, I don’t announce my every hiccup and latte purchase on Facebook, and you couldn’t find me via Foursquare even if you had Jesus Christ and God helping you.
I used to be somewhat embarrassed by my lack of technological savvy. (I’m pretty sure a guy I dated six years ago broke up with me because I didn’t own an iPod. Really.) But not after reading Robopocalypse. Be afraid, be very afraid. That iPad that never leaves your side? It may just jump up from your nightstand while you’re blissfully slumbering – and slit your throat. That car with all its nifty “smart” features? It may turn on you and any pedestrian or other motorist. Believe me, it ain’t pretty: the Toyota gas accelerator debacle looks like a G-rated Disney movie compared to the beserko car scenes in this book. Your brilliant phone? It’ll track you so that blood- and brain-sucking robots can easily find you, and well, suck all your blood and brains out. Your microwave will turn your kitchen into volcanic ash, and your laptop will shoot laser beams into your eyes, rendering you blind. Then…
…your beloved machines will form a collective, becoming smarter and smarter, eventually creating deadlier, more evolved machines that can more easily hunt and kill humans.
Yeah, not light bedtime reading, but food for thought – perhaps a cautionary tale? – nonetheless. Have we become too dumb for our own good? Glassy-eyed consumers of technology and social networks? And as a result, have we made our technology too smart for us? As I dial back some of my wants and really take stock of what I need, this book has been a blessing in disguise. No, I’m not going to go live off the grid, eschewing all technology. There is some good in our modern inventions, I see that. But you just may see me throwing my TV and microwave out my third-story window sometime soon. And I’m about to walk out to my car and disable my bluetooth. It might save me some money in the short run – and perhaps my much-needed blood and brains in the long run.