As I watched that video and others like it, I again sat in wonderment of the craziness that overcomes some folks on “Black Friday.” Much of the recent brouhaha seems to be over televisions and other electronic stuff. Teddy Ruxpin and Tickle-Me-Elmo are a distant memory. As I watch, I feel that the Yahoos, human-like creatures, from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1727) while in the Land of the Houyhnhnms, are among us. Gulliver comments, “I also observed myself, ‘that in the fields where the shining stones (televisions and electronic stuff*) abound, the fiercest and most frequent battles are fought, occasioned by perpetual inroads of the neighbouring Yahoos.’” *emphasis added
What is up with people? I think that they are looking for happiness in the weirdest of places, in a screen. Screens in our hands, on our walls and on our laps. Happiness is not in them. It does not come from possessing them.
Here is a little video that might help us understand. Check out the action around 1:30.
There is another character, Mildred, in Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451. She is obsessed with watching screens. At one point she speaks of getting another wall-sized, full color television, “It’s really fun. It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and another wall-TV put in?” Considering that all of the televisions of that time were in black and white and had a very small screen.
What happens when the television is so ubiquitous that we have extras in our house lying around like so many Tupperware lids?
There is not much new under the sun. Especially when fictional works of literature from 1727 and 1953 speak of our human condition today in 2018.
It always serves to remind me that fiction is not fake. It is often more real than reality.
Welcome to the rat race.