Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

The End of [the Computer Mouse && other Stupid Things]

Time flies. It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since we first heard of Alex Frank’s DONTCLICK.IT project. Personally, I had hopes that the computer mouse would be gone, by now, but humans are stubborn animals, not readily prone to rapid change and not readily accepting of people, places, or ideas that are foreign to them.

For instance, with the current state of interactive voice response (IVR) and voice recognition technology, I have no idea why my cell phone still needs a key pad. The cell phone key pad is even more anachronistic than the computer mouse. I want my cell phone in my watch and I want it YESTERDAY. There is absolutely no reason in the world that phones don’t come in watches, paired to bluetooth headsets, into which I simply speak any phone number I like. It is beyond trivial to teach a watch how to understand my individual intonations of the ten digits, pound, and star. That’s 12 tiny voice samples to store and recognize. TRIVIAL. Phones have long stored and retrieved voice samples like “call jerry,” so there’s really no excuse for lacking the universal capability to say “dial 18005551212.”

Today’s gonzo speculation is that said watch-phone, and many other such ideas, are perhaps not the case yet, because OLD PEOPLE are stupid, tired, and lazy. WTF does that have to do with anything, thou asketh? As an Old Person myself, who can barely find employment – except among other marginalized Old People – I regularly find the prospect of gaining traction for such ideas a challenge among The Young and In Charge.

The bright, clueful, imaginative, idealistic and oh-so-discrimination-sensitive young people of America STILL marginalize just about anyone 10 years older than themselves, every single day. The exception, of course, are the uber-rich Trumps of the world, the token sages like a Wozniak, perhaps; who although old, gain acceptance among the hip and hyperactive as curious pop-cultural condiments or as walking analogies for other Thing That Apparently Matter.

Ageism is one of the most pernicious and invisible of the malignant ‘-isms’ that we continue to fight, as a society. Actually, I don’t think we’re fighting this particular ‘-ism,’ at all. After all, Old People are overweight, wrinkled, gray, goofy, forgetful, can’t name the top 10 cool songs of the week, and remind us of our own mortality. Besides, how can you sell jeans, high heels, lip gloss, trucks, beer, sneakers, cigarettes, and junk food to the notoriously self-absorbed, spend-thrift 18-34 demographic in a way that is inclusive of retarded old fux? Answer: who cares?

Oh, did I just characterize 18-34’s in a somewhat discriminatory way? So sorry about that. However, just talk to the marketing executives of the world and you’ll find them vastly more flippant in their cynical descriptions of their Target Market than I could tangentially muster in this brief space.

When it comes to employment, there is another universally unspoken and accepted precept that drives company hiring practices everywhere: if an interviewee is not likely to show up for the Friday Foosball Fest, look reasonably “good” (in terms of the aforementioned demographic) or to be the Life of the After-Party; due to say, having a family, grandchildren, or a hobby like sailing, or flying, or any other combination of life-fulfilling and time-consuming extra-curricular activities; then it’s okay to find that candidate “not a good match for our company culture.”

Obviously, it’s true. Such Old People are indeed NOT a good match for the average company culture that practices blatant age discrimination veiled by the self-limiting gossamer excuse, “not a fit at this time.” If I had a penny for every interview that ended this way, and for which my QUALIFICATIONS unambiguously and perfectly suited me for the position, I could have retired and stayed out of sight of The Young and Beautiful “like I was supposed to,” long ago.

If I were black and svelte, an ambitious young immigrant, or a mobility-challenged prodigy, then my words here would be read and recognized as evidence of yet another injustice infesting our otherwise would-be idyllic egalitarian society. But because I am OLD, such words will likely be read as emanating from bitterness or anger or some other negative attribute drawn from the narrowly defined pallet of available attributes ascribed to Old People.

Nevertheless, I’m compelled to state for the record, perhaps to the dismay of my young and brash 18-34 y.o. hip friends, you are not alone in your disillusionment with The Way Things Are. In fact, many other people – even Old People – share your emphatic insistence to do away with Stupid Things.

Unfortunately, on this Easter Sunday, Ageism in Popular and Corporate America has yet to make it onto the hip-hop list of Unjust, Ignorant, Repulsive, and Oppressive Shit that ought to be immediately and irrevocably eradicated, never to be resurrected again. On the other hand, perhaps we shouldn’t rely upon hip-hop to be the vehicle to end such discrimination when professional organizations such as the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) appear to have the matter under control with such condescending and presumptuous programs as “take a frail old idiot to work day.” Well, in fairness, they call it:<blockquote>Hosting a low-cost “Take an Older American to Work Day” (an expansion of Organic’s “Bring Your Parents to Work Day”) may ease some older Americans’ concerns about technology and encourage them to continue in the workforce, even if on a part-time basis. Such an event could show them that their work ethic and skills still have value in today’s knowledge economy.</blockquote>Because, of course, it’s THEIR problem – the Old People’s problem – of forgetting that their work ethic and skills still have value … not a youth-obsessed culture’s problem of discarding and discriminating people as irrelevant and obsolete by failing to provide the opportunity to keep attending college one year out of every ten, or some other mechanism by which EVERYONE could be enabled and empowered to “keep up” with the pace of sociological and technical change. Oh, that’s right, Old People can’t learn because their brains begin deteriorating at about 35 and are pretty much depleted by 55. Of course, there always the occasional freaks of nature … <blockquote>The ages of the student pilots [at North Island Navy Flying Club] range from 18 to 60+ years (the oldest pilot to solo and get the PPL [Private Pilot License, so far] was 61) so age is no limit.</blockquote>… which don’t count, because we all know that our presuppositions wholly and unambiguously outweigh such meager facts.

Still, as with the entire history of discrimination, when in doubt, the strategy of blaming the victim and offering rehabilitation never fails to provide just the right uncritical, myopic, self-righteous healing balm to ease the perpetrator’s untroubled soul. So I suppose I should be all for “take an old moron to work day.” Now, if we could just teach them poor little non-white peoples that it’s just Gawd’s natural order that puts ‘em lower on the evolutionary chain, maybe they too would start bringing their retarded parents to work to rehabilitate them, as well.

Written on April 8, 2007