The very first cell phones were little more than technological curiosities. Far more distracting than truly useful, they wasted a lot of time and led owners to be remarkably inconsiderate in the presence of other people. They had terrible, unreliable coverage and required you to deal with predatory phone companies that charged far too much for basic functionality. Now you can buy a bunch of apps.
Our society was once unjust. Men laid claim to a higher place in the hierarchy than women, and white men took the top spot among other races. This was simply the way it was, and to voice a complaint was an unspeakable faux pas. Now we are able to speak about injustice freely. In fact, we get to argue for decades about glaringly obvious imbalances before the tiniest step is taken to correct them.
We were once unable to believe that mankind could escape the Earth's atmosphere and venture into outer space. The math proved it was possible. The science backed it up. Now tens of thousands of people believe Jenny McCarthy when she tells them they shouldn't vaccinate their children, and she doesn't even have science on her side.
Long ago we were small and dumb and helpless creatures. Our bodies were stocky, our heads oversized. We had no concept of hunting or gathering or the use of tools. Now we are no longer infants. We are much larger, perhaps five or six times as tall. Many of us carry portable basketball hoops at all times, so that if we encounter a child we can dunk in front of them to prove our superiority. We take every opportunity to lean in close to a baby and tell it, "No baby is taller than I. Not even the biggest baby."
We used to buy magazines that were full of pornographic material. It was the only way to get it. Now our magazines are completely blank. They contain nothing but glossy white pages stapled together. We buy them every week and our local magazine stand owners are barons of unequaled wealth and power.
Cars were once ridiculous things, clunky piles of machinery that consumed gasoline and got into accidents. Now we huddle in the tenuous safety of our buildings, peering out through barricaded windows as the sentient motorvores prowl the streets. Only fools risk the night. Only fools feed the machines with their blood and cries of anguish.
Our sporting events were originally terrible and brutal things to witness. We gathered in stadiums, screaming with delight as large men collided with one another and inflicted traumatic injuries that would linger for their shortened lives. Today our athletes hang themselves in the locker room, and when the stadium announces their passing we applaud politely.
We once gathered by fires, sitting in circles made up of our loved ones. We told stories, sang songs, and enjoyed each other's company at the end of a long and arduous day. This basic human connection was the reward for our struggles. Today we stand in the shower with our clones. We silently rub soap across the nipples of those to our left. This goes on for hours, for it is our work. Our reward is a troubled sleep and the soft embrace of regenerative medical bras.
Thousands of years ago we gave in to senseless bloodlust and clashed on muddy fields of battle, hacking away at one another for no good reason with swords that were little more than dented wedges of metal. Today our swords are formed from Shards Of Blightkeep. With but a gentle tap from a sacred hammer in the precise spot on the legendary crystal formation, a thousand blades fall free. They are slotted into perfectly weighted handles, which have our names written on the sides with magnificent rhinestones.
Long ago we knew nothing of nutrition. We greedily ate up whatever we happened upon, and were glad for it. Now we have a reliable food source. The tentacles emerge from the ground at the same five times every day, finding us no matter where we are and wiggling their puckered tips in our faces with helpful insistence. We suckle and the juice fills us with betterment. It pushes away our own feelings and reminds us of our duty. The torch was taken to crop and cattle alike. This is all that's left for us. Sometimes when we resist and our own thoughts begin to creep back in there is doubt, but doubt over what I cannot say.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.