Monday, June 28, 2004

I didn't bother to update my "reading" tab, but you should know I've been reading Playing the Future, by Douglas Rushkoff (who wrote Cyberia, used as reference material for Lain, used as intellectual masturbation for Leticia). It's a delightful book that talks about how the kids of today are better equipped for surviving in the Brand New Paradigm than us obsolete, outmoded adults. Phooey.

No, really, you know how I always think of teenagers as those "other people?" Well, it's come to bite me in the butt. According to Rushkoff--and you'll believe him after reading his eloquent prose--the chaotic self-similarity of modern teenage entertainment (videogames, Internet communities, giant robot anime) reflects how they are growing up in a world that is maturing into a sentient being. In the olden days, we skied; we went straight down, avoiding all obstacles to get the fastest time. Nowadays, kids snowboard, and thrash every obstacle in sight in an attempt to feel the mountain for themselves. (None of that makes any sense now, but it will, when you read the book, trust me.)

Rushkoff's favorite recurring theme is the fractal, from comlpex mathematics; it's a vizualization of complex math that looks chaotic and incomprehensible at first glance but when you look closer, it's a repetition of the same pattern on many different scales. In classical mathematics, a mountain is just a flat cone; but to the snowboarder, it's a landscape of cascading mountains, smaller and smaller, to be thrashed with his snowboard with abandon.

I was always proud that, when I was little, I did not "channel surf;" I picked a show that looked interesting, watched it, and then turned the TV off. Now, I do not watch TV (except for the Firefly DVDs... Firefly!), and rather prefer not knowing how the corporate media moguls wish to twist my brain to convince me that motorized nosehair trimmers are cool. However, Rushkoff says that's how his (read: old fogy) generation watched TV, by picking a show and watching it and turning the TV off; but these days, kids thrash the media landscape, taking only what they want and leaving the rest. For us, TV was a passive exercize; for them, it's fully interactive as they no longer have to accept programming from their corporate masters. Surreal.

(In addition, there's a whole bunch of interesting stuff about how action figure collection further abstracts our concept of money, but I've stolen enough from his book already so I'll let him go.) The thing is, I've always been told that I have the mind of an adult (aww shucks) and I've always felt like I have the habits and wisdom of an adult; but you see, it's only because I come from an outmoded way of thinking, and pretty soon the all-new Children 98 are going to replace old obsolete Leticia and her passive television watching habits and replace me with a newer model who can chat on IM (I hate IM), watch TV (I hate TV), play a videogame (well I like videogames...), and talk on the phone (I'm shy on the phone) all while filing her nails and listen to her mom lecture on boys.

I'm sure I have _some_ saving grace. For instance, I like Digimon. See? The kids who win in Digimon are the kids who let techology into their lives. It's the fearful adults who always lose. That, and the evil Digimon who wish to keep the human and digital worlds seperate, so as to prevent mogrelization of data. Um, nobody ever said that, but it's a good metaphor; the DigiDestined, fighting for integration, while the old, outdated adults and ruling-class Digimon try to keep the two worlds seperate because they think they are destined to have war. It's the kids who understand that they can have peace.

God dammit, it's always the kids who understand that sort of thing. Rushkoff is right. Let them take over, with their crazy MP3 players and strange videogames. They know what they're doing. ...I hope.

...At least I hope they'll do a better job than we did. I mean, Vietnam and then Iraq look pretty crappy on our generational resume. How can we expect kids to respect us when we tell them to share and not to fight and then decide to bomb other countries out of nothing but personal conviction? We're wimps.
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