Welcome to the Machine is a song by Pink Floyd released in 1975. Here’s a link.
It’s odd, but it still resonates with me today, perhaps even more strongly than it did back in the heyday. Why? Well, that’s what I’ll explore in today’s blog.
Humans being incorporated into “the machine” is not new. Let’s go back to the Luddites, who revolted in England in the early 1800s because of the introduction of machinery into the cotton industry, namely, weaving and the like. And the industrial revolution itself, with its introduction of Big Ben and the call to come to work in factories (remember, this was new at the time) at a prescribed time. Rather machine-like, right?
Of course, it continues. Henry Ford and the assembly line. Workers come to work and, like a machine, perform the same function for 8 to 10 hours a day. Like a machine. Remember, we were an agrarian society before this. Today, I believe the family owned farm is nearly extinct. Welcome to the machine.
But this is not the machine to which I refer. We must move forward in time.
Enter the Matrix.
So, in the movie The Matrix, we humans actually are part of a machine. The machines use humans as an energy source, kinda like billions of Energizer Bunnies. Yes, in that movie, humans are really part of the machine. But, the main character, Neo (which translates to “new”) is given a choice to remain a part of the machine or to … basically, reject it and explore what it means to be human. Neo chooses to become human.
Sadly, I believe that choice is being taken away from us. I’m not exactly sure “being taken away” is the right phrase. What’s going on is insidious. I have a personal example which I’ll relay shortly, but first I want to make sure that I’m portraying correctly what is going on.
First of all, in 1975, the internet was yet to be invented. The internet is a tool of the machine, but it is not the machine. The “machine” is what forces us into behaviors that we as humans do not agree with but are forced to agree with because … well, we are all becoming part of a machine. And it’s not a pretty picture. In fact, as a science fiction writer, I can project current trends that this “snowflake” generation, a generation with well-documented deficiencies, is only the beginning of a downward slope that spells doom for humankind. Oh, we’ll all still be alive. It’s not that “we’re all gonna die” kind of gloom. But we’re becoming batteries that provide the energy that fuels the machine. And that is becoming our main and only function.
Now, let’s jump ahead and consider the negative response to these ideas. From where will they originate? From the web. The internet. Of course, newspapers include the same ideas, but let’s face it, news media rely on the internet. If a story says dispose of the internet or screen time, these pundits are not going to be on board. And so these ideas will be criticized harshly. Ah well, welcome to the machine.
Why would the machine do this?
Let me clue you in. This is the new machine. The machine wants you and everyone else to be glued to a screen, or have you plugged into headphones. In one generation, we have gone from talking to our neighbors on the sidewalk and saying “Hi, How are you Mr. Hewitt?” To having zero human interaction. We don’t even have to agree to a radio station in the car! They bicker about this or that, but in the end, you’ll be watching TV or your cell phone or some other screen device. That’s the machine. And by the way, it’s how the machine controls your mind. Look, it’s obvious commercials influence your buying decisions. If they didn’t, the companies wouldn’t spend the millions of dollars to produce those commercials. So if commercials can influence your spending habits, could commercials influence how you feel about certain topics? Doh!
Welcome to the machine.
You’re going to end up with mindless people who can’t make decisions. (Remember how I mentioned snowflakes? That’s just the beginning. We’re raising a generation of batteries.) Let me be the one to name this generation. The Duracell generation. But they’re not plugged in like batteries supplying electrical current. All they have to do is watch screens. And indeed that is what they do.
Frankly, it’s sad to watch. And no one seems to care. Why? Because their incomes all rely on the machine! I do not understand watching all of these groups with causes about saving the local dandelions or whatnot when the children of today’s crop of parents are being raised to be batteries. It really does baffle me. Except, in a way, I do understand. The Matrix is everything. So is screen time.
I’m somewhat of a Luddite. I’ve been on twitter briefly. And I understand the hashtag wars (although, I would point out that they’re all done via screen time), but if I were to come up with a hashtag for this point, in would be #MomsKnowTheirKidsBest.
By the way, I’ve been inundated with commercials for the Adams network of lawyers claiming to represent dads who, allegedly, aren’t getting a fair shake from the court system. Well, listen, if you have a stay-at-home mom and a working dad, the courts should give custody to the mom and have the dad be a weekend-dad. That’s what I did. And I have a son with a PhD in physics, a daughter with a PhD in Education, and another son with a Master’s in Social Work. My children didn’t need me during the week (although I did ferry them to Boy Scouts and sport practices and a zillion other things, but they were with their mom during the week at bedtime), but I sure as heck maximized my time with them on the weekends, and we didn’t watch screens. (Disclaimer: actually, on Saturday mornings, I told them to watch cartoons until I woke up; but then screen time was off and we went skiing or swimming or off to play basketball or whatever, which is how I grew up).
I hope this makes sense. Don’t let your children grow up to be batteries. Fight the indoctrination into the machine. Turn off the screen and go outside and experience life. Let moms make decisions. Don’t let the Adam network of lawyers diminish the role that stay-at-home moms play. The real life is a life that is not portrayed on a screen, and is in fact discouraged by everything that is displayed on screens.
Welcome to the machine.