Minority Report

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For these young women it’s been a nice long afternoon on the beach making sand sculptures. It was a contest; the entry you see here may have won or lost; but the women have their cell phones out to document the results. Or to text their friends, or to take pictures of the empty sea, or the sand, or of each other.

In fact their phones were out during the entire process, constantly in use. In ten years the cell phone has shrunk from a clumsy, expensive device for emergency use into a small, cheap, fashionable and absolutely essential object. Only one Peso per call! A river of Pesos flows away from this beach.

There was a time when people went to a beach or took a walk to be alone, or with a friend, and get away from the world for a while. But that’s not possible any more. With cell phones, everybody is available to everybody else all the time. Of course you can still turn off your phone and isolate yourself from the social noise, but this is increasingly seen as a sign of anger: “I TXTD U 3 TYMS BUT U NVR REPLYD. R U MAD AT ME?? ”

It’s a new and more virulent form of pakikisama. Before, you were only responsible to your local barkadas for what you did and said in your own neighborhood; now this extends to everybody you ever talked to, at any moment, wherever you happen to be.

And now that cell phones can take pictures, everybody can see where you go, and with whom. And everything is documented. And saved. Terabytes of smiling faces, stored in millions of memory chips around the world.

In past ages, only important events were described or pictured.
The few remaining texts from ancient Greece and Rome are kept in museums. Even the black and white photographs from the last century are often treasured objects, studied for clues to the meaning of the past.

But future generations won’t have any trouble finding out about us, with all the millions of pointless pictures and texts we leave behind. They’ll probably be bored to death with us, in fact.

These women here on the beach, taking pictures of water, pictures of sand: Why? What for? But they’re not thinking of future generations. They’re just happy, they’re having a great time with this; they love it all.










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