Technological Miracles vs. Everyday Ones

WHAT’S PLAYING: Miley Cyrus “Party in theU.S.A.”

A couple of months ago, I bought a new phone. This sucker has a full keyboard, massive screen, camera, video, and all the latest Android technology. Sleek and shiny, it really is a marvel.

And yet, whenever I have to make a call, I find myself reaching for my trusty old tracfone. Why? I don’t know. Probably out of habit. Or maybe it’s my ever-present fear of change.  

Either way, it’s hard to believe that both these phones evolved from the one Bell invented back in 1876.

 

See what I mean?

I love gadgets. I do. In addition to two cell phones, I have a home weather station that I haven’t set up yet, two iPods (just in case one breaks), a tablet, a couple of DVD players, video game consoles, and various other devices.

When I think about the near miraculous strides humans have made over the past couple of centuries, I’m filled with both awe and humility.

Case in point: here is a link to an article about a robot so lifelike that at first, I thought it was an actor pretending to be a robot. You can find the video here:  http://mashable.com/2011/03/04/lifelike-robot/

(Welcome to Skynet, people.)

My first reaction was, “That is so cool!” Then I realized just how eerily lifelike the android was, even down to simulated breathing. There is a fine line between genius and creepy, and this thing crosses it.

If that isn’t enough real life sci-fi for you, there’s this:  http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/harry-potter-invisibility-cloak-effect-created-real-texas/story?id=14674417

 OK, that is seriously cool. Can a cure for cancer or a recipe for immortality be far behind?

With all these major advances in technology though, I’m left wondering what the future will bring. Already, people spend more time online than they do with friends and family. Then there’s the loss of privacy and common courtesy. Recently, I read a story about a blogger who overheard a couple breaking up in a public restaurant. Instead of ignoring it, he Tweeted the dissolution of their marriage in real-time. Granted, the couple probably should have picked a more private spot to end their relationship, but this guy was out of line.

I’m not a huge fan of social interaction, online or off. In fact, I usually go out of my way to avoid it. Still, when I do manage to crawl out of my shell every now and then, it’s not to update my status on Facebook. There’s more to life than technology and the latest and greatest discovery.

In fact, if you really want to see something cool, just get up early to watch a sunrise. Listen to a child’s laughter, take a walk, or simply ask about your family’s day. You’d be surprised at the everyday miracles this world holds, if you would only stop Tweeting long enough to notice. 

 

  What could possibly be cooler than that?

Advertisements

In Distress — Getting into Your Characters’ Heads

WHAT’S PLAYING: Nicki Minaj and Rihanna “Fly”

Recently, I read an article about two adult siblings who sued their mother for “emotional distress” due to bad parenting.

You can read the full article here:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/adult-children-sue-mom-bad-parent/story?id=14407409

After reading their litany of complaints, my first reaction was “Are you f-ing kidding me?! What a couple of spoiled, entitled douche bags!” When I was a kid, instead of a new toy, my mother would give me a stick and tell me to go play outside. On hot summer days, while other kids were enjoying sno-cones and freeze pops, I had to make do with frozen beef jerky.

After my initial burst of outrage, I tried looking at the situation from a writer’s point of view, unfiltered through the lens of my own experiences. In my ultra-pragmatic mother’s world, a parent’s only responsibility was to provide their children’s basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, and love. (The last item became optional once the kid got past a certain age.) If I wanted something, I had to work for it. It was that simple. Then again, my mother was a blind seamstress raising three kids in one of the poorest states in the country.

The lawsuit siblings grew up in a very different environment, with unique perspectives. Maybe money was the primary way of expressing affection in their family. (Who needs hugs when you can get hundreds?) The point is that, without knowing what went on during their formative years, I was in no position to judge them. At least, not as a writer.

Many times, characters in my stories will act and speak in ways that I wouldn’t. Those are the times I have to become a method actor of sorts, sifting through false memories of parents, friends, childhoods and environments. I have to get inside each character’s head to see what makes them tick. Then, after I’ve assembled a complete dossier, I ask myself if it was really just the abuse that turned this person into a killer/sexual predator/complete asshole. Sometimes people just are who they are, childhood environment notwithstanding.

As a writer, I want to be able to write well about anything and anyone. Whether or not I choose to is beside the point. I want the choice. And so, I think, should you. So, go ahead. Dive deep into your characters’ psyches and see what kind of disturbing images you come up with. Maybe your next great idea will involve a serial killer or a sexual predator.

Or maybe even a couple of spoiled, entitled douche bags.