#25: Big brother
We watch ourselves plenty, maybe too much. We watch how we look, what we eat, when we work, when we play, how we appear to the rest of the Dartmouth world. But we are so caught up in watching ourselves that we don't have time to watch out for each other.
It’s as if I have to pay continuous partial attention so that I don’t miss anything. This pressure means that I, among the masses of my age group, am constantly on my devices. I’ll be on my phone, with my fingers rapidly interacting with the interface with so much automation that the whole process practically precludes conscious awareness. At this point, are my gestures (or even my thoughts) in my own possession anymore?
Bern’s grandfather built the Pennsylvania railroad, but his father squandered the fortune on god knows what, leaving the family impoverished and in Newark, which was problematic for several reasons, though none greater than the fact that in those days being from New Jersey meant that wooing a young and beautiful Upper East Side heiress was a near impossible task.
My dad leaves MSNBC on even when he’s not in the house. I went to a Unitarian Universalist church growing up, where the creed is essentially tolerance for everything. Earlier this summer, I discovered an Obamacare t-shirt lying around the house. We are the smug liberals from Durham, the most tolerant city in the United States. And damn, do we know it.
We don’t know why the library burned, but we all felt the smoke before we could smell it. It pressed down upon us, crushing us in our beds. We silently watched the plume of smoke curl into the sky as the building writhed, melting from form to form in its death throes. It tried to staunch the fire by transforming into a stone castle, but the flames were coming from within.