Saturday, April 30, 2016

Terminal Velocity

There are these things called "Darwin Awards." If you are not familiar, it is a collection of those things that don't necessarily prove the evolution of our species, or any other. Instead, they are a way of tracking just how effectively we can ignore our programming and progress to say and do incredibly stupid things. There are plenty of sub-categories in this wide-open competition, but so many of these individuals who are working so hard to prove that Darwin was wrong were doing so on a dare, or to do something "just like the movies," it's disappointing.
Sure, the argument could be made that a percentage of the folks who find themselves in the running for each year's top prize are doing their idiot best to make their name surge to that pinnacle of Al Gore's Internet fame. Or infamy. Oscar Wilde would have loved the message boards. The opportunity to rise above the general anonymity of the online world may be reward enough for some. To this end, I blame the brain trust behind "America's Funniest Videos," or as I prefer to call it, "America's Funniest Pending Litigation." You can hear the voices ringing out, "It should say on the label: Warning - wading pool not for use as parachute."
And then there's the Mythbusters, who may have been high-minded and careful to remind us at the beginning of each episode that these are trained experts and not to try anything they attempt at home, but the number of seed that were planted in tiny minds is probably impossible to comprehend. Not the least of which would be the cannonball Adam and Jamie sent through a house in Dublin, California. What we do because we didn't fully understand or prepare is the stuff that winds up on television. Or YouTube.
There is a whole corner of the virtual world set aside of massive fails. Video evidence of which makes for thousands, if not millions of views. There have always been crowds of teenage boys willing to sacrifice potential fatherhood for a chance to ride that perfect rail or launch themselves over their parents' house via some hyper-slip-and-slide. And there's always someone hanging just off to the side with a smartphone waiting for their buddy to look up as the dust or canola oil is settling and say, "Didja get that?"
Just below this barely defensible "we wouldn't put it on if there weren't people dumb enough to do it in the first place," there is the "we are making it easier for people to lower their expectations of themselves" response. Then there's this: Snapchat has a filter that shows how fast your phone is moving. It's all a part of the too-much-information world that gives you the opportunity to confound people with posts that say five hundred miles per hour when traveling cross country by jet after weeks of posting five miles an hour when running around the block. The borderline evil part of this is how it immediately turns into "how fast can I make my phone go?" Christal McGee's phone was going one hundred seven miles an hour when the accident occurred. The one in which she struck another car with her Mercedes, causing permanent brain damage in the driver of the other car. Brain damage may be discussed during the pending lawsuit against Snapchat and McGee for creating an environment where going fast wins you prizes. Not real prizes, mind you, but that instant gratification that only emojis can bring.
I suggest a different strategy, if you really want to find out how fast your phone can go, drop it out of a window. You can decide if you need to follow it.

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