Every day, there’s an abundance of new writing with the familiar complaint about how technology is turning us into rude and inconsiderate zombies who eschew human contact in lieu of constantly gazing into the backlit depths of our smartphones. One of the main selling points of the Apple Watch is the gadget’s potential to alleviate this problem, and of course there’s been a ton of writing on that, too. This essay argues, for example, that its marketing as a corrective tool for the way technology makes us behave is even ruder than the rudeness former technologies create: it makes those who don’t own it feel like they’re not part of a societal solution. Meanwhile, this short and witty piece about being “too old” for Instagram supports the widely agreed-upon theory that technologic socializing tends to bring out people’s ruder sides. If any of this is disheartening, you should definitely avoid this article illuminating the dangers of data collection through the recent AI-flick Ex Machina. It contains major plot spoilers but the article is still worth the read.
Appreciation of the great outdoors is usually considered the antithesis to our smartphone-obsessed culture, but even this octopus is learning to take pictures with an underwater camera (though the real question is obviously whether it will create a coveted Instagram handle and be called “too cephalopod-y” by embittered people who also wanted it). In the meantime, Toronto-based artist Trevor Wheatley proves that even a retreat to a wooded paradise won’t cut you off from the ubiquity of the online world by placing slang in natural settings. Seeing “Squad” strung up between the trees during your next hike may also prompt you to think about the impermanence of pop-cultural lingo and the way language is constantly evolving and changing — if it doesn’t just make you realize how ridiculous we sound, always. Technology obviously isn’t all bad — the phenomenon of holographic protestors can lead you to realize how technology can transcend barriers in the name of common human interests; also, we wouldn’t be listening to the new Sufjan Stevens track without the Internet. Plus, there are myriad ways even nature can go wrong: just ask this couple who found their house to be inexplicably filled with birds.
Let’s end by celebrating the season premiere of Game of Thrones. If you still aren’t caught up, let Key & Peele take you on a crash course that’s both hilarious and informative. It’s common knowledge now that the series is veering away from the books, even going so far as to kill characters that weren’t killed in the original novels (as if there weren’t enough death already); if this concerns you, check out this piece on what deviating from a written series that is still in progress means for the canon. Or skip the more involved reading and settle for this quiz to test your knowledge of the houses of Westeros.