Sunday, October 25, 2009

Surrogates? Facebook and SMS

I like watching movies. The larger-than-life screen and detached but captive setting enhance the movies' ability to magnify/ abstract/ simplify and distill  streaming snapshots of  life in past, present and future versions. I especially enjoy the Sherlock Holmes exercise which I can't help but do at the end of the movie during which I second guess what message or "moral" lesson was being conveyed by the ever artistic directors and  imaginative writers. In the past, I have let these flood of thoughts keep me entertained for hours after the movie ends, only to be forever lost in sleep and the wake-up-joe realities of everyday life.

But now there's technology. Blogs. And doggone, its free and simple. So, as a first attempt to try to salvage my sanity and stoke the flickering fire of hopeless writing passion that remains within me, here I go with trying to guess what Surrogates, the movie starring Bruce Willis, was all about. And, no, I haven't gone to the movie website or read any reviews about it. Not yet.

The movie was set in the distant future, a time when technology allowed human beings to use life-like robots, or surrogates to do everything better: go to work, eat, make love and lust, hang out without the risk of death, injury or rejection.  The only thing the human has to do is to sit back in the comforts of his room, attach a device that allows him or her to see, feel, taste and experience everything the surrogate does, that is until the surrogate robot comes home and needs to be charged. The surrogates, which need to have the neurosignature of the human controlling it , can be made to look younger and prettier, jump higher and be stronger than the real thing. The surrogates became so good in fact,  that everyone, including Willis aging wife, no longer felt comfortable going out into the real world to compete against  the other dashing and perfect surrogates.

Surely, this is all fiction and will never happen in our lifetimes. You're right of course until you realize the extent to which technology already allows us to project only our best foot forward. Most facebook pages contain the best photos that we have, never mind if they were taken 10 years and 20 pounds ago.  I doubt whether there is anyone who actually shows all the photos taken from their digital cameras. No, no, no. My best guess from my own guilty experience is that photos are carefully selected and uploaded based on which ones show the good and fun side of us during certain events. In some way, facebook has become our surrogate face. Not in the future. But today.

And SMS or texts? Probably our surrogate language. Why risk saying something wrong when speaking live with another human being. Isn't it supremely better to carefully select our words, erase or modify at will prior to sending it? And of course, put a smiley face or attach a photo to make it personal. No fear. No rejection.

This blog post? My surrogate unpublished book. Email? My surrogate letter. Cable TV and Playstation 3? My children's surrogate babysitters. The internet? My surrogate world. If you are still reading this, then I rest my case. Do you dare think of the day when all these perfect things are taken away?The movie, Surrogate,  proposes that when that moment comes, then we start to live.

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