If you choose to purchase my computer, that was made in 2013, you will find that it can do all sorts of things that, during my lifetime, were considered quite impressive. Of course, by the time you get it, all those things will already be either forgotten or boring. It has things with which we were able to store photographs, to play music, to talk to each other, and to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. We could find out about all the current events, history, gossip and recipes. It was both a blessing and a curse for the people of the early twenty first century to have this device. It distorted communication and relationships, as well as man’s understanding of his surroundings and of reality and life in general, much more than it improved or facilitated them. During the nineteenth century, when photography was first developed, people took pictures only of the rich and famous, of extremely significant milestones,and of the recently deceased. In the twentieth century, as photography became more affordable, people took pictures of special occasions, parties, vacations and other interesting circumstances. In the twenty first century, thanks to the computer, people took pictures of every box of cereal or crayons, and anyone who blew his nose or gargled. Thanks to this oddly interesting object no one seemed capable anymore of doing anything without its being put online. The online world and lifestyle were an environment during which all kinds of deception were inevitably possible exactly because of the very nature of the personal computer. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter helped to revolutionize, in unfortunate ways, mankind’s approach to communication and relationships. Up to a point it was quite a nice way to keep in touch with family and friends, but it was also a Pandora’s box with all kinds of unforeseen, uncontrollable problems.
An anonymous voice from the past
I don’t know if there’s an ideal number of people for a conversation, debate or any other form of interpersonal communication. For me the deciding factor in a perfect conversation is the subject matter. Only a very short time ago I was involved in an exceptionally interesting conversation with my sister and three friends of hers, that involved topics ranging from literature to history. We ended up referring to people like Jane Austen, and presidential assassins Booth, Guiteau, Czolgosz and Oswald. That’s the kind of conversation that can really keep my undivided attention, whether it’s only in a small group, or in a classroom with more than three dozen people. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a very good idea to have an overwhelmingly large group because it would be too difficult to keep track of all that’s going on and to give everyone present a fair chance to participate. As long as all present are interested in the topic or topics of conversation, the number can vary. Of course I quite often enjoy a good interior monologue too. The cast of characters who populate my imagination can keep me company especially well.
I’ve never been able to stand excessive noise. For as far back as I can remember I’ve always had an entirely intense aversion to excessive volume. I come from a world where there was entirely too much yelling. Having always bitterly hated and resented noise, I’ve had quite a difficult time coping with many things that are taken entirely for granted with most people. Everyplace I go, even to church and libraries, there are so many entirely inconsiderate characters constantly talking out loud and allowing their cell phones to make all kinds of noises, without bothering even so much as to attempt to be a little considerate of others. Besides my problem with noise in general I’ve always harbored an equally insatiable hatred of telephones too. My niece and nephews are all still extremely young, so of course they all still go overboard with their favorite music. Whenever I tell them it’s too loud, they inform me that I’m the one with the attitude problem. Unfortunately there simply doesn’t seem to be any interest, among most people these days, in showing respect to others when it comes to noise. It’s a kind of arrogance that is most certainly not restricted to the young. I’ve known of very many people significantly older than I, who live by the assumption that if they choose to yell or to increase the volume on televisions, radios, or other devices as much as possible, it’s somehow other people’s responsibility to learn to deal with it. Many times over the years I’ve referred to the time, when I was working at Citicorp Retail Services in Melville, New York, next to a department where all the people were constantly laughiing and yelling. The incessant noise drove me entirely into all sorts of fits of rage and fury. Of course, as always, I was the bad guy. To my chagrin there are several things in life that seem to be governed by a rule that makes it clear that the most utterly and undeniably inappropriate approach to life will always be specifically classified as the norm. Of course noise isn’t my only pet peeve. I also can’t stand liberals or any other totalitarian control freaks. You know the type, those who chant manipulative dictatorial catch phrases, like “The only thing intolerable is intolerance.” , while simultaneously attempting to control other people’s lives with no questions permitted. That, however, is something I have been known already to refer to under several other circumstances anyway.
I happen to think I have quite a sufficient mastery of punctuation without significantly over-or underdoing anything. Never having felt terribly comfortable with semicolons , I virtually never get any siginficant mileage out of them. I just looked up the definition of semicolon and it’s virtually the same as a period anyway so what’s the point of bothering. It connects two independent clauses. One form of punctuation I flatly refuse to get suckered into is quotation marks. Of course, they’re legitimately mandatory under certain circumstances. My complaint is the stupid “quote/unquote” craze that has so captivated people for the past very many years, even decades, by now. Occasionally while proofreading something I’ve written, I catch a major mistake with commas. That can be very easily remedied. Hyphens can come in quite handy every once in a while but I can’t say I’ve ever gone overboard with them. Since I’m quite happy with simple declarative sentences, and see no need to bother with the superlative case very frequently, exclamation points have never held any especial charm for me. If I have something to say that strikes me as significant enough to emphasize it, I can always resort to either italic or bold faced font. Grammar can be quite a mercilessly nasty taskmaster. Punctuation problems are enough to drive anyone crazy. I take my time and bluff my way through it as well as possible.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, after having picked me to go on a mission to Mars, gave me all the training and education that was required for me to take the trip. Today was the big day. The only catch is that I can never go home. I shall always be lost in space. I’m on my way now, ever since six o’clock this morning. It’s occurred to me over the course of my long journey that there are many things about our third stone from the sun which I shall miss terribly. I have no idea what kind of things they might possibly have on Mars that could take the place of food, air and water. Things of that nature, that seem so droll when they’re always available, are greatly missed when they’e gone permanently. On my home planet, I could go to a restaurant or food store and get any of a wide variety of things to satisfy my hunger and thirst. That was also true of other interests. In space, even on Mars, it must be so annoyingly lonely and boring. In spite of what many people have always claimed, I don’t ever expect to find any intelligent life forms on my new planet. Even if some intelligent life could be found, how could I possibly be expected to communicate with such a creature.
Another thingthat will be lacking in my new environment is a familiar sense of temporal and spatial perception. Gravity is quite a problem too. Everyone knows that things like that operate quite differently in other parts of the universe. Throughout my lifetime I’ve always enjoyed and counted upon familiarity. Now that I’ve left Earth I shall have to start entirely over again in every possible way.
Besides all the practical things that are unavoidably necessary for mere physical survival and mobility, there will also be quite a social problem. Mankind has always been quite an intrinsically social animal. As I said before I shall not have anyone with whom I can communicate. No one could possibly be expected to maintain such a lonely lifestyle forever. It must be quite a very weird feeling without other people around. Mars has no history, culture, politics, philosophy, education or work force. It will be quite a very nasty experience having all those memories of things like that, and not being able to find any practical application whatsoever for them on my new planet. I’ve always liked extreme peace and quiet but this will be entirely too much of it. On Earth there’s such an exceptionally enchanting variety of places, things and experiences. Somehow I don’t expect such a lot of things on Mars that can possibly be expected to pique my interest in any significant way.
Life on Earth may not have been absolutely perfect but at least it had one advantage. I was always so good at it. I knew exactly what to expect. Everything from now on will be so entirely unprecedented and confusing. There’s a fairly seriously significantly good chance I may mess things up a bit.