Simulacrum

IRL Streamer Ice Poseidon, Alias Paul Denino

As I predicted, the heat wave I described a couple of days ago has persisted, despite the lies and blandishments of several so-called weathermen. To escape the heat, I spent time reading and lunching at the Westfield Mall in Culver City, followed by movies at the Cinemark at the nearby Howard Hughes Center. Yesterday, it was Whitney, which I described in yesterday’s post. Today, I saw Ant-Man and the Wasp. (Meh!)

Being in the midst of so many people, I was appalled to see that people escaping the heat at the air-conditioned mall depended on their smart phones for entertainment. I was probably the only one of hundreds of people at the mall who had a book. Two or three old men were reading newspapers. And hoards of others were playing games on their smartphones, checking their social media, and other utterly useless tasks. Children were using electronic devices that emitted the usual treacly bibblety-bobbledy-boop sounds of programs oriented for the young.

In addition to my book, I read an article in the July 9 and 16 issue of The New Yorker Magazine entitled “No More Secrets” by Adrian Chen. It was about an IRL (“In Real Life”) streamer named Paul Denino, who styles himself as Ice Poseidon. Imagine living your life hooked up to video equipment that captures your life from minute to minute. On YouTube, I saw a number of video clips from Ice Poseidon’s oeuvre and was thrown for a loss. Ice Poseidon’s life was not really life, but a series of situations in which the Streamer (or Screamer?) and his retinue got into various boring scrapes and liberally dropped f-bombs along the way. If that were my life, I would set about ending it in some dark corner far from the nearest video camera.

All these video devices were intended to enhance life. Instead, they have created a kind of empty simulacrum of life. I keep thinking of the little boy I saw yesterday staring into space while the video game on his tablet kept emitting nonsensical noises to which no one paid any heed.

Is This a Valuable Talent?

This Makes Zero Sense to Me

This Makes Zero Sense to Me

Among the children of my friends, I am famous for being totally uninterested in computer gaming.Today, while driving home from work, I heard a news story on NPR that almost made me rear-end an Acura. Robert Morris University in Chicago is offering a full athletic scholarship in the video game League of Legends. If your child has wasted hundreds of hours exercising his thumbs (but not his brains) on a fantasy computer game, he is entitled to a scholarship that will pay 50% of tuition and 50% of room and board. (Excuse the pronouns: Women also are eligible for the award.)

What the university is doing is making a computer game equivalent to a sport. Not that I have any particular love of college athletics (I was in the band), but I am wondering why an accredited university should be encouraging an activity that will most likely be considered out of date in about three weeks. At least football, track, and maybe even baseball will continue to exist, I do not expect the same of any computer gaming product now on the market. (Well, maybe chess….)

I see this as opening scholarship chances for skateboarding (that’s been around for half a century), in-line skating, Razor-Scootering, pogo sticks, and other forms of “physical” activity indulged in by youthful slackers. We could make awards based on smart phone handling while crossing a busy intersection or texting and vaping while driving in reverse. The possibilities are limitless.

Now that Robert Morris University got its name in the news media by this stunt, I wonder what could be next.