Monday, February 21, 2011

The "Screamachine" -- An Allegory

Let’s say I had a seriously malfunctioning portable robotic stereo.

It went off at random moments playing screeching sounds at high volume, and I had very little control over it. Sometimes it wandered off in a random direction regardless of safety or other people. Sometimes I could coax it to be quiet and be still, and sometimes nothing I could do worked and it would go on and on until it went quiet on its own. If I brought this machine into a coffee shop or restaurant or store or library or theater, I might get some dirty looks from all those selfish people who were expecting some quiet time.

“But wait,” I would say, “it’s very important for me to take this with me everywhere. It’s who I am. If you don’t have one of these, you have no idea what it’s like. Show a little sympathy, because your dirty looks are not really helping me, are they? Maybe if you had one you wouldn't have such an empty, meaningless life."

Perhaps I took ownership of my noise machine before I really knew what they were like. Perhaps at one point I was afraid that I would have a big hole in my life without such a machine so I went right out and got one. I could tell you this machine is in fact the future of technology and at some point we will all be dependent on it when we get older. It has some kind of artificial intelligence, theoretically, that will make it function better as it learns more and more over the next two decades. Don’t you care about the future?

“Besides, just about everyone has one, and once you grow up you will want one, too. (Uncle Sam even gives me a little tax break – sort of like green energy credits, only not.) Those days when you could go into these places and not hear these angelic machines are a thing of the past, really. And, what can you do, these things just make those noises. It’s what they do. You should see them when they make really sweet spontaneous noises, or when they sit in sleep mode. I wish I could show you that right now, but the thing keeps screeching. You’ll just have to believe me. Maybe when you get one of your own you can see that it’s all worth it. That’s when you know you’ve grown up and added something to society.”

“It’s just going through a rough few years right now, but over time it will get quieter. It will run around on its own a lot more then and spill things on you, but the screeching will be a little less spontaneous. Sometimes I’ll even be able to shout at it and activate the voice-recognition quiet mode from a distance. That is, unless it’s tired or amped up or bored or frustrated or interfered with by other noise machines.”

Now, I’m thinking if I had such a thing and I did disturb other people, I could rightly be labeled inconsiderate. I should at least minimize the noise that it made or apologize when it was disturbing others or make sure that everyone could see that I was at least trying to deal with the challenge. I should not mind minimizing the effect of my noise machine by staying away from quiet areas or keeping my machine from moving around and screeching in the ears of others.

If I were to impose the sensory effects of my choice on others, I would certainly hope I would not try to induce others to join the  club. I would hope I would be able to respect the fact that others without screamachines may not want the hassles that go with them, or else they would have them. Who knows, maybe the people out in public have machines of their own and just wanted a space outside the home where they could get away from their own machines.

When are you going to get a screamachine of your own?

1 comment:

  1. my man got a vasectomy in march. we are counting down the days until the "sample" he has to give comes back thumbs-up, and he's shooting blanks!
    they should pay him to do it.
    enough of the scream machines.

    i get paid to nurture and influence children.
    they go home when our classes are over.
    and i like kids- some of them.
    luckily, i get many cool ones, and i can't say that much for most of the adults i meet... breeder turds, many.

    i win.