Part of Life... Not a Way of Life
Down at the Pub One Evening
“Sheeple. Sheeple who need Sheeple, are the luckiest Sheeple in the world.”
So there I was again, at The Corner Pub, minding my own business, as I do. I was simply admiring Christina enthusiastically filling the beer cooler which was directly under the bar where I was sitting. It was a nice view as she was wearing one of those spaghetti strapped, loose fitting tank tops. It was orange. Out of nowhere someone said, “Just look at ‘em, would you?” To which she looked up at me. I seemed to hesitate a little too long before making eye contact with her but when I did she smiled at me, blushing a little. We then turned to where the question was heard.
It came from Gary, a single malt scotch drinker. Sitting with his back against the bar rail with his drink in his hand, he was looking at the fairly crowed bar room. He glanced towards Christina and gave a waving motion with his glass, “Look at ‘em. All of them. Faces glued to those… those… devices.”
Gary is a bit of a conspiracy theorist and every now and then he expounds on his thoughts. Looked like this evening was going to one of those times. We looked around at the crowd. It didn’t look too unusual to me.
Christina finally said, “Gary, are you talking about the laptops, phones and pads?”
“Yes… those devices. They’re ruinin’ our society, ruinin’ our families, ruinin’ our relationships, ruinin’ our lives for Pete’s sake! Aint no good coming out of none of it.”
“We offer free Wi-Fi. It draws in the customers. And there’s no “ruinin’” going around here except for the use of American English and a few livers.”
“So they’ve gotten to you, my dear? Have they?” He said with concerned sadness.
“All they are doing is maybe watching some TV or playing a game or writing mail or even enjoying a movie. What’s wrong with that?”
“I’ll tell you…”
“I knew that you would”, she taunted.
He gave a bit of a fake smile. “I’ll ignore that comment.” He then took in a large sip of the scotch and let it swirl over his tongue and softly inhaled the vapors before gently swallowing, then exhaled soft and smoothly. It was something to watch. Christina and I were mesmerized that the technique he was employing to enjoy his drink. I seemed to be almost a religious deed, a sacrament. In a calmer manner be spoke.
“What’s wrong with that? Think about the reverse. What’s wrong with playing a game with someone in front of you? What’s wrong with sitting in the living room with your family and watching TV? What’s wrong with going to the theatre and seeing a movie – with other people? Actually spending time with another person – face to face – elbow to elbow - hand in hand – what’s wrong with that?”
“Well, nothing…”, Christina started but was interrupted.
“And it’s no wonder the postal system is going under. When was the last time you sat down with paper and pen and wrote a letter, huh? Don’t answer that. I’m sure that is was before the Nixon administration…”
“I’m not that old!” she spouted out.
“Sweetheart, I dated your mother. I have an idea of your age.”
She gave him a sideways glance, and then said, “Continue.” Except it was more like ‘con-Tin-yoooooo’.
He stared at her. I think he had lost his train of thought for a moment. After a moment, he began again. "It seems that the way that society is going is towards isolationism. Or rather, self-isolationism. Sentencing themselves into solitary confinement - willingly!"
"Gary, I think that's a little overboard. Why would people do that to themselves? Willingly."
"My use of the word willingly may be a bit of a misnomer as is your use of the word people. I should have said not knowing any better."
"Yes. Society has transformed the way we see of interpersonal relationships as well as ourselves."
"I see. Before you launch into your expected explanation, instead of people what word should I have used?"
"Sheeple. People who act like sheep. A herd of animals blindly following no apparent leader but still following the flow of the herd with no original thought of their own."
"That's kind of rough, don't you think?"
"Maybe rough... but accurate. It seems that the latest gadget comes out and they all say 'I gotta have it! And I gotta have it now!"
"But it's always been that way. From hula hoops to hair styles to hemlines. They are fads. Changing as the masses have change."
"Aha! Your are right in that aspect. Those were innocent things. Harmless actions that when in retrospect do seen silly, but never harmed anyone. But these things are different." He took a sip off of his scotch, savored it a moment, swallowed and gently exhaled. He looked blindly over the crowd and after a moment, began speaking again. "The hula hoop, hair styles and hemlines, as you mentioned, may have had you look silly, but that was all. These devices get into your head. Into your brain. Into the way you think and the way you perceive the world around you. It alters your reality. Online you can fly the space shuttle, go white water rafting, be the lead singer in a band, have sex, give birth, experience death from the comfort of your couch at home. Online you can meet people, create a relationship, fall in love fast. And if it doesn't work out, simply unplug or unfriend or un-whatever that person as if the relationship never existed and without ever the touch of a hand or the pain of confronting the situation. Online you can build an empire, fight mighty battles and rule a world without any real work at all. Online you can disappear in to cyberspace, leaving reality behind and become someone else, never having to come in contact with another soul.
"Being online takes you away from what is real. Avatars in games depict ideas of what's attractive and sexual without the possibility of ever being a reality to the human form as it is. Being online removes you from the realities of living and places you in a world that may seem dangerous... a place where you can 'die' a thousand times only to come back the one-thousand and first time to try again."
He paused to enjoy another sip. I looked at Christina. She had that expression on her face that meant that her mind was dwelling on something. It was broken only when he continued on.
"Then there are the social effects. Do you realize the those who have been brought up, breast fed and raised online seem to suffer more severely from social anxiety, depression and loneliness? Social skills are out of the window and functioning as a team seems to be totally foreign to them and when these situations arise, they panic - not certain and unknowing what to do. Self-esteem becomes non-existent and laziness and being a slob sets in. Sure the courage to slay thousands of your enemies to win the heart of your love arises and is acted upon. But it is a hollow victory as it results in nothingness.
"And there are the health effects. Poor eating and sleeping and sitting for tens of hours at a time being online effects your weight, spine, eyes, joints, muscles, kidneys and heart. With all of these things, the creatures that once were to be functioning human beings become withered shells that mentally, socially and physically can't function as a part of society."
"Those are good points," Christina finally said, "but what about the sharing of ideas and information? Coming together as a collective for a worthy cause via the internet and social media? Research and information distribution? How are those things anti-productive? How do those things not help and increase the ability of people coming together and getting to know each other - especially when they have common interests?"
"No, no, no my dear. Those are champion and excellent uses of the internet and what you call social media. In fact, the young lady that lives across the hall from me was walking out at the same time that I was and informed me that she has over 2,500 friends on Face Book! I asked her how that could be and she said that the fact that she documents everything that she does... everything she thinks and feels... well, this seems to make her so popular that she barely has time to go out and get groceries. No, no... people like her will be of a great benefit to anthropologist and sociologist in the next century."
"Your sarcasm is showing." She was not amused.
"And as far as getting groups of people together for a common cause, well this is a great tool that can be used for the good. But remember, it can also lead to less desirable results."
"The 'Occupy Movement' for one. On Wall Street it was as way of expressing the same opinion of many, yet it seemed to draw some elements that were not as concerned with the 'Civil Disobedience' as the opportunities to become 'sound-bite heroes, thugs, rapists and drug dealers. And in Egypt, the beginning message seemed to had become lost in the end. I'm not saying that using these forms of communications are wrong, but more just tools. And a hammer can build a coffin but it can also put someone in one as well. Just depends on how you use the tool."
Gary took the final sip of his drink, turned around and gently placed the rocks glass on the bar. I couldn't tell if he was savoring the taste or thinking or both. He finally spoke. "There's an old saying - everything in moderation. There is nothing on the surface and intent with being online that is inherently evil. Nothing wrong with playing a game, watching a movie, e-mailing a friend or even broadcasting your personal opinions and views. And these days, it a part of life. But that's the real point, isn't it. It's a part of life - not a way of life."
He stood up and smiled at her. "As always, my dear, you've allowed me to express my opinion and vent my frustrations. I suppose that I could have written an article and posted it on Hub Pages or something. And many people might have read it and agreed or not to what I had to say. And that would have been fine. But it just seems more real when two people or more are in physical proximity of each other hearing the inflections of the voices and the expressions of the faces that seems to make it more real... more personal."
He blew her a kiss and walked out into the evening. Christina was still considering what he had said when her smart phone went off. She looked at it. "Momma sent a text", she said to herself. She read it and started to reply then stopped. She pushed a few keys and put the device to her ear. "Hi, momma... Yes I got your message... no everything is alright. I was wondering if you were going to be up after I close tonight... Why? Well, it's been awhile since we have just sat and talked to each other in the same room... I'd like that... I'll see you abut eleven-thirty or so... Bye then..." She smiled put the phone back into her pocket.
I turned and looked at the crowd. Groups and singles peering into the screens. The light glow bathing their faces. Some smiling and laughing, some in concentration and still some totally expressionless. But all seemingly to be very quiet and absorbed. I thought about what Gary had said. Sheeple he called them. I don't know if that was really fair. But I did agree that these devises are only tools. Nothing more. They are a part of life. Not a way of life.
How to Properly Drink Scotch
Step 1: Choose Your Glass
While this may seem a bit simple, it’s a very important step in tasting your single malt. Looking for a glass that has a large bowl-like opening at the top. This ensures the aromas reach your nose from the surface of the Scotch, and don’t get trapped in the glass. If you really want to be authentic, get your hands on a Glencairn glass. This Scottish company makes glasses for the sole purpose of drinking Scotch, so you know you’re getting a good product. Order them at www.glencairnwhiskyglass.com
Step 2: Sight
Pour some single malt into your preferred glassware. Swirl it around gently. What are you looking for? Legs… They indicate the viscosity, or weightiness, of your Scotch, which will tell you if this spirit is going to be on the lighter or heavier side.
Step 3: Sniff
Now that you’ve determined the weight of your single malt, it’s time to take a whiff, actually a series of sniffs, so listen close. Your first sniff will be a quick one. This is an introduction not only to the single malt, but the alcohol as a whole. You are preparing your olfactory sense to intake a different aroma, and giving it some prep time will make it all the more enjoyable. After this, you’ll take your second sniff. This sniff is slightly longer, in order to take in more of the aromas in the Scotch. Don’t linger too long on this one, or you’ll overpower your olfactory system and have to start all over again. Your third and final sniff is more of a personal covenant; you’ll smell more of the Scotch in this one, and start to appreciate what you’re about to drink
Step 4: Taste
It’s time to take a nice big swig of that Scotch that we’ve been staring at and sniffing on, right? Not exactly. Like the sniffing, you’ll want to break this down into a few steps first before you go into straight sipping and enjoying. Your first sip is a quick sip, straight down the middle of your tongue. This is to prepare your body for the alcohol that you’re about to intake. You’ll feel a nice warmth in your chest after about five seconds or so. Your next sip is less a sip, and more a sizeable gulp. With this gulp you’ll want to swirl the liquid around in your mouth; let it roll on the tongue and underneath it. After you’ve done that for several seconds, you’ll want to swallow very slowly. During this second sip, you’re really taking in all the flavors and feelings of your single malt. Is it smoky? Are there notes of honey, lemon, or caramel? Only your palate will know for sure, so try and focus your senses during this time. Your third sip and every sip hereafter are for pure enjoyment. Sip and relax friends, it’s Scotch time.
Courtesy of www.thedailymeal.com