Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On the Derailment of the Species

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Having taken plenty of Amtrak train rides plenty of place including across the country, we know the terror of a sudden screech, lurch, tip, and every other slow-motion American passenger rail equivalent of airplane turbulence.

But we don't know the terror of full derailment, which happens way too often with 1950s American train technology, and which has happened again, this time in Philadelphia, killing eight passengers and injuring more than 200 others.

There's plenty to say about this. The accident provides a perfect launching point for a "national conversation" (whoever started that goddamned phrase needs to be tarred and feathered every day for a decade) about the embarrassment that is rail travel in the United States. And about the embarrassment that is Congress, formerly a group of elected leaders put in charge of funding services—like, say, rail travel—for American citizens. And about a president who's been croaking "infrastructure, infrastructure" for seven years with no one listening. And about the number of deaths and injuries yet to come from more rail derailments, bridge collapses, road disintegrations, systems failures.

The Internet, of course, could be a perfect device for conducting such a conversation. That is, if only the Internet were made up of human beings capable of conversing.

But instead, we get this: a former Congressman and military veteran who was on the derailed Philadelphia train, Facebooking a photo of his knee which appears to have a superficial scratch and a tragic amount of leg hair.



To be honest, we had the same response as the first person to comment: You gotta be kidding. Eight people die and you show your scratched knee? And that would have been the end of it, had we been in charge of the Conversation About the Knee Photo.

But we're just bystanders when it comes to civil Internet "discussions" which are never civil nor ever discussions. So we could only watch as the comment thread devolved into this:

Group A: This guy is a Tool who Literally maked me Gag by showing this pitcher of his Knee that is only Scrached.

Group B: You are a Tool who Literally made me Gag by not relizing that He wants to show how lucky he was in camparison to those who went threw much worst, e.g. that they Died.

Group C: You are both Tools because this guy is a Military Vetran and he can show what ever he God damnit wants to show because he Served our Country and survival this train crashed.

Etc. Ad Nauseam. 

The former Congressman posted the pic without a comment, so of course the Facebook community can't be blamed for trying to divine his purpose and intent in posting.  

(a) He's a selfish prick who thinks anyone cares about this scratch.

(b) He's a selfless hero who wants to show how lucky he was to have received only a scratch.

(c) My mother in law makes $800 per week working just two hours a day from home! Ask me for details.

Meanwhile, the eight people who died, and the 200+ injured, and the fucked-beyond-recognition national infrastructure, and the embarrassing, dangerous, deadly 1950s technology, and every other vitally important aspect of the story are all gone.

The Internet has proven one thing: Given an amazing technology that lets us communicate in real time with anyone in the world about everything that matters to all of us, humankind prefers to jump around on its keyboards like retarded chimpanzees instead and fling turds at each other.

We are all passengers on a rickety 1950s train destined to derail and explode. The end will come in a hail of stupid selfies, but at least no one will be able to comment about them before blessed silence arrives and our screens go dark for all time.

We deserve no less for the stupidity of our simian species.

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1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Public transit in this country is beyond horrendous. Amtrak, despite racking up impressive government subsidies, doesn't bother fixing their antiquated infrastructure. And is hideously expensive. Four tiers of fares, the cheapest of which is rarely available. Next cheapest disappears in the middle of booking tickets six months ahead. Leaving two fare options. Take a minute to confer with travel companion…zoom! The cheaper of the two vanishes. We decide to fly because it's cheaper. Bus travel? Not for the faint of heart. In my city, local buses have hit six people in the past year, killing three…one of whom was nine years old. Regional bus service? I've had the unfortunate experience of buying a ticket at a ticket window for a bus which never showed up. When I called Peter Pan Customer Service, I was roundly chastised for not buying my ticket online, where, ostensibly, I would have discovered that the bus I wanted, that was listed on their schedule, actually only ran on Thursdays. No wonder our interstate highways are clogged with hour-long backups.