The year reality collapsed into pixels
What I learned from spending 2020 working, learning, and entertaining on the same screen.
By the time the friendly robot Wall-E makes it to outer space in the Pixar movie that bears his name, the audience is ready to meet the humans. Years earlier, when Earth became overrun with the detritus of overconsumption, those humans absconded on spaceships owned by the giant corporation that sold them all that stuff, leaving little robots like Wall-E behind to clean up the planet. Now Wall-E has found a way onto the ship where the humans are. What will he find? Astronauts? Lord of the flies? An advanced, enlightened iteration of the species?
Nope. Human civilization, left to its own devices on a giant vessel owned by a corporation, has more or less devolved into full-time consumers. Earth’s descendants are effectively blobs — they sit in comfy chairs that cruise around the ship all day, wearing pajama-like outfits that can change colors at the touch of a button, with personalized screens to look at whenever they’re not sleeping. They’ve forgotten how to walk or interact with other people or do anything offscreen at all. In fact, the screens are so engrossing that although these humans are surrounded by other humans on other chairs with other screens, they never actually look at each other. Instead, the screens are portals to their entire reality. They’re where people order food, watch entertainment, talk to one another, and, most importantly, learn about what they should buy next.