by Jim Harris
Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, and they are computers. We are being sucked into a vortex of circuits and switches from which we are unlikely to ever extricate ourselves.
In a recent TV ad for “noise canceling” headphones, the young narrator says, “I wear my headphones all day long. What I hear is up to me.” Or is it? Hmmm. I wonder who is controlling whom here. When everything in our lives is finally experienced by way of headphones and video screens, we will have been completely absorbed into a world over which we have no control.
After that, all of our interactions with the powers that be will take place through digital technology. Our entire government will consist of one giant website, dispensing minuscule amounts of dubious, controlled information while luring us into more and more trivial, addictive, non-threatening pursuits.
All those big buildings in Washington D.C. will be sold for condos. Politicians will no longer have to leave home or even get out of bed to do their “jobs.” Government and business will merge into one enormous online industry, masquerading as meaningful communication. Get ready.
Welcome to Gov.gov.
Please choose from one of the following portals:
• Press one for “Wind”: For all the hottest hot air blowing around Capitol Hill. Hear the latest outrageous partisan rants and insults and the wittiest ghost-written political putdowns that your tax money can buy.
• Press 2 for “Fire”: For high-priority matters only. For example, do you know of someone at whom we should be firing a drone? Is your house on fire? Click here to see our newest instructional video, “Top 10 Ways To Extinguish a Stubborn Blaze,” narrated by a lifelike Dick Clark avatar, with a soundtrack by Kenny G.
• Press 3 for our “Wiretap of the Week”: This week, you can listen in live to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone conversations. Funnier than “Hogan’s Heroes!”
• Press 4 to weigh in on our question of the day, “Would you like to see Texas secede from the union, and if so, should we build a big fence around it?
Feel free to leave messages on our closely monitored and moderated “comments” page, like this delightful one from “Marge” in Cincinnati.
“Thank you so much, Gov.gov! I found a government-inspected, Grade A husband on your dating site and five great Thai restaurants within 20 miles of my home on your ‘What To Do’ page. You guys rock. USA! USA!”
• If you have any questions requiring a response, please read this Frequently Asked Question first to see if the answer is already there:
Q: How do politicians feel about the new Gov.gov website?
A: They love the fact that they don’t have to deal with the public anymore. It’s just so dangerous. Plus, they’re too busy fighting with each other to be bothered by unkempt rabble like yourself.
• If you still have questions and would like to talk to an auto-bot, press 6 and speak into your computer’s microphone.
“Beep. Greetings, you are caller # 3,988,714. While you are waiting your turn, please enjoy a selection of songs by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and his band, ‘The Huckabeats.’”
(17 hours later)
• “Hello. Please speak clearly and state your question.”
“Where can I find affordable health care?”
• “Wealth Share? I’m sorry, we don’t do that in America.”
“No, I said HEALTH CARE!”
• “Elf hair? Is that correct?”
“No, you stupid *&^%; HEALTH CARE!”
• “I’m sorry; I didn’t get that, but I did detect an elevated voice volume level and several ‘red flag’ words. I’m just going to go ahead and put you though to the FBI. Please stay put.”
So that’s just a taste of what things are going to be like in just a few years. As unpleasant as it has been dealing with government bureaucrats who don’t really care about you, it will be even more painful dealing with computers that don’t care about ANYTHING.
Of course, if you wish to give up your American citizenship, the “I Don’t Care Act” gives you the option to do so, but you must agree to move to Texas and kill your own food. As tempting and glamorous as that sounds, I think I’m just going to find myself a cave in the Wissahickon and learn how to grow potatoes.